It’s almost a certainty that you’ve heard about the importance of reading aloud to your children. It’s likely that a teacher has required that you read to your child at least 20 minutes every day. Thae importance of Storytime cannot be overstated when it comes to preparing children for success in school (or further learning). Reasons abound for the success of this one literacy activity, but an often-overlooked reason – an important one – is how parents set the tone for literacy learning that cannot be duplicated in schools.
Think about how parents read to their children. You might be in bed together or snuggling up on the couch. Perhaps you’re reading on the floor laughing and playing together as they flip through the pages. In the nurturing, cozy environment that parents create, children form positive associations with books and reading. Importantly, this is not a contrived activity. Parents know how to snuggle up with their child and settle in to read a book or two. That families can create natural and enjoyable literacy experience for their children is an unmatched strength. While schools are hyper-focused on skills, parents can support an authentic outcome of the joy of life-long reading. Similarly, families have the gift to create writers, talkers, and listeners too. Specifically, parents can and do create natural, enjoyable, and loving conditions for rich literacy learning as part of family life.
Because you are aware of the importance of reading aloud to your child, you probably have that covered. But let’s also bring this nurturing and loving tenor to all literacy learning in the home. Happily, these conditions can be duplicated to create positive associations with writing, listening, and speaking too. One sure-fire way to creating nurturing conditions for literacy learning at home is to make learning part of your everyday routine. In short: you do you. Remember, this is your gift. Live your life the way you do with an enhanced focus on literacy learning. To get started, remember to . . .
- Use what you have.
- Accentuate what you love. If you like to cook, write and read recipes together.
- Make materials accessible.
- Be a model as a literate person who uses language in all its forms.
Here are a few tips and strategies for enhancing your gift of creating the most loving, nurturing literacy learning at home and in your family:
- Gather writing supplies including pencils, pens, markers, crayons, and a variety of papers (unlined, lined, notebook, copy, postcards, envelopes, old book pages, anything you can think of can be a canvas for writing and art) for a go-to writing kit.
- Use post-it notes to write “love” notes and other kinds of messages to place around the house.
- Assemble a collection of old scrabble tiles, magnetic alphabet letters, and puzzle pieces for literacy play.
- Create a collection of functional print such as coupons, receipts, greeting cards, print ads, for imaginative play.
- Call attention to print in the neighborhood such as signs on buildings and streets and logos on cars and restaurants.
- Practice the art of telling jokes.
- Create a family library (a few books in a box will do) in several areas of the house for easy access.
- Use (or get and then use) a library card.
- Encourage older children to read to younger siblings and younger children to read to the dog or a stuffed animal.
- Communicate using your “regular” vocabulary. Children will learn the words you use.
- Have fun! Play, play, play!
Remember: creating loving environments to raise literate humans is YOUR gift. You got this.