In the first years of life, developmental trajectories change rapidly, creating dramatic opportunities for children to learn new things and grow. This window of growth is an important time because research indicates parents, educators and other adults are the primary influencers in child level success. Within these first five years, language development is included in this window, as children are listening and learning new vocabulary within every interaction with their caregivers.
In the early 2000’s, legislative shifts and new educational paradigms started to shift attention to Pre-Kindergarten outcomes. A new focus on academic readiness was born, with the aim of better preparing students for Kindergarten. With laws and initiatives like Early Reading First and No Child Left Behind, we began to direct our attention on the early predictors for academic success. One of these predictors, early literacy, gained much attention as researchers went to work to define what it is and how it contributes to educational success.
Early literacy and early numeracy are two important skill areas that develop during the early childhood period. Not only are these skills critical in and of themselves in terms of early school success, they are also necessary building blocks for knowledge in other areas (e.g., Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998) and they appear to be related to one another. For example, young children with delays in literacy skill development are often delayed in early math skills as well (Krajewski & Schneider, 2009). There is also growing evidence that both early literacy AND early numeracy skills are strong predictors of long-term achievement (e.g., Duncan et al., 2007).