Literacy at UMCHS


Head Start has long recognized the importance of supporting parent’s efforts to attain family self-sufficiency and to be their child’s first and most important teacher. Adult literacy levels limits the economic self-sufficiency of many Head Start families, therefore Head Start incorporates a family approach to promoting the literacy development of the families it serves. The agency supports the concept of emergent literacy and provides training to staff and parents in the following areas:

  • Learning to read and write begins very early in life.
  • Reading and writing develop concurrently and interrelatedly in young children.
  • Literacy develops from real life situations in which reading and writing are used to get things done.
  • Children learn literacy through active engagement.
  • Being read to plays a special role in the literacy development of the young child. Learning to read and write is a developmental process. Children pass through the stages in a variety of ways and at different ages.

Materials and Activities

Supporting emerging literacy and numeracy development through materials and activities according to the developmental level of each child. Strategies used for promoting reading and writing with preschool children are building on the foundation set in infancy. Reading and writing related activities are infused in each interest area and throughout the curriculum. For example, equipping the block corner with a basket containing markers, index cards or poster board, and masking tape, children can make signs for their buildings. Displaying books with pictures of buildings, bridges, and construction sites will enable children to learn that they can get ideas from books. By making literacy development a part of all Head Start activities, children can make discoveries about letters, the sound and symbols of language, and the purpose of reading and writing all day long in everything they do. Having sign-in sheets so children can write their names when they arrive, writing thank-you notes to classroom visitors or people visited on a trip, or pointing out street signs can show children that print is an important means of communication.
Reading books to and with children occurs daily in the classroom. Children who have enjoyable experiences with books want to be readers themselves and are more likely to become life-long enthusiastic readers. Books should reflect the cultural backgrounds of the children and be relevant to their experiences. Parents and community volunteers will be encouraged to participate in the UMCHS, INC. programs.


Classrooms will have a print rich environment. A print rich environment is one in which signs and labels that have a function are visible at children’s eye level throughout the room. Reading and writing materials are available to children at all learning centers and encouraged by staff. The alphabet is available to manipulate and explore. Literacy should not be contained in one area but woven throughout the classroom.


Family members are encouraged to talk with their children and share books with them. Reading and talking about books is the single, most effective way for families to promote literacy. Parents and older siblings are encouraged to visit the classroom and read to children.


Home visitors can take books provided by UMCHS Inc., on home visits for families to check out on regular basis, and provide assistance for reading opportunities. Parents are encouraged to use the public library and to obtain a library card. Regular visits help cultivate a familiarity and comfort with library facilities. The program provides books to enrolled children three times during the program year through the RIF (Reading is Fundamental) Program. Reach Out and Read program provides literacy development through books and literacy education.

Literacy Goals

Home visitors involve the whole family in the Family Partnership Agreement by identifying literacy desires, goals, needs, and strengths. The information provided assists the program and community agencies in determining which resources and referrals would best respond to the family’s literacy goals. With needs identified, the Home visitor and the family develop and implement a planned system of referral for appropriate services to meet the interests and goals of the family/individual.

Related Links

  • Reading is Fundamental
  • Reach out and Read
  • Literacy Web Links