Literacy Theories: Types & Characteristics

Literacy Theories: Types & Characteristics
Coming up next: Using the Schema-Theoretic Approach to Reading Instruction

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 Literacy Theory
  • 0:38 Maturationist Theory
  • 1:24 Emergent Literacy Theory
  • 2:11 Social Constructivist Theory
  • 3:08 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

The maturationist, emergent, and social constructivist literacy theories have different perspectives on how children acquire literacy. In this lesson, we will discuss the main characteristics of each theory.

Literacy Theory

Education professionals agree that a balanced approach to literacy is the most effective way to teach children how to read and write. A balanced approach that varies teaching methods, nurtures a love for reading, and integrates different reading materials developed because of several independent literacy theories coming together. Literacy theory developed over the last hundred years from in-depth scientific and social research. In this lesson, we will explore three theories that are popular in the field of education: social constructivist, maturationist, and emergent literacy theory.

Maturationist Theory

Maturationist theory, led by Arnold Gesell in the early twentieth century, claims that children learn how to read when they have acquired all of the necessary cognitive skills. Under this assumption, cognitive maturity supersedes physical maturity. Parents and educators cannot do much in terms of reading readiness to speed the process up for a child.

The main characteristic of maturationist theory is that a child's reading readiness can be evaluated through a series of tests. Furthermore, it is understood that all children develop through a similar, predictable sequence of events at a pace determined by internal and external factors. Internal factors include genetics, learning styles, and personality. External factors include living situation, parenting styles, cultural backgrounds, and social experiences.

Emergent Literacy Theory

Emergent literacy theory was developed by New Zealand educator Marie Clay and changed educators' understandings of literacy acquisition. Clay's research showed that children do not go through a set sequence of skills prior to learning how to read and that reading readiness was an inaccurate term. Instead, her findings demonstrated that children entered literacy through the simultaneous development of reading, writing, and speaking skills.

The backbone of emergent literacy is an active engagement between adults and children in activities that foster literacy skills. For example, children exposed to reading and writing at an early age use those experiences to become literate themselves. They learn the conventions of different forms of literacy, and then independently apply those skills to reading and writing.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support