Original Research

Move to literacy: fanning emergent literacy in early childhood education in a

Lorayne Excell
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 1, No 2 | a83 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v1i2.83 | © 2011 Lorayne Excell | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 May 2014 | Published: 31 December 2011

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Lorayne Excell, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

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A literate child is one who is able to read, write, speak and listen. Literacy begins at birth, and continues steadily as children develop. The explicit processes that form emergent literacy are for example, phonemic awareness, letter and word recognition,
vocabulary enrichment and structural analysis. These literacy practices are well documented and articulated. But how these practices and the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values (KSAVs) that underpin them are best acquired by young children
is contested. This paper argues that an early childhood education (ECE) approach, which fans literacy, should follow a quality play-based approach that embraces a pedagogy of play that foregrounds how children learn through play, and how teachers teach through play. In combining two constructs ‘pedagogy’ and ‘play’, we propose an approach that is underpinned by movement and other appropriate learning activities, which support the development of perceptual-motor behaviours and sensorimotor integration in a pedagogy of play. We argue that perceptual-motor behaviours and sensorimotor integration are the ‘invisible’ pathways to literacy. They provide young children with many and varied, incidental, implicit and explicit learning opportunities. A more informal, play-based approach towards teaching and learning appears to be a successful way of nurturing literacy processes.


pedagogy of play; sensorimotor integration; perceptual motor development;


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