12 Literacy Skill-Builders for Elementary and Middle School Students

  • Strong reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills are essential to both academic and workplace success. In fact, studies show that strong communication skills are one of the most important attributes that students will carry into college studies and the work world. So, consider these level-appropriate strategies you can use at home to nurture and grow your child’s literacy seeds into a bumper crop of knowledge…

    Skill-Builders for Grades K–2…

    1. Reading together regularly helps children learn that print contains a message.
    2. For new readers, point to each word to reinforce the left-to-right pattern and connect the words in print with words heard.
    3. Ask your child to make predictions and puzzle out new words, using picture clues.
    4. Choose books that rhyme, repeat phrases, or have predictable stories.
    5. Writing opportunities include simple thank-you notes and personal dictionaries. (Help your child create an A-to-Z “book” of new words, complete with drawings or magazine photos and sentences.)

    Skill-Builders for Grades 3–5…

    1. Help your child read for meaning through book talks. Ask about details, such as characters and setting.
    2. At least once a week, have your child read aloud. If your child reads very fast or ignores punctuation, ask him to reread the section and stop when there is a period, use expression when there is an exclamation point, and change his voice with each question mark. If you notice your child reading each word slowly or word-by-word, the book may be too difficult.
    3. Ask for help writing a to-do list or list of chores.
    4. Encourage your child to start a journal.

    Skill-Builders for Grades 6–8…

    1. Variety adds spice to reading! Encourage your middle schooler to expand her reading tastes and explore new genres. Recommended book lists from school are a great place to start.
    2. Help your child engage with text and boost his information recall by “thinking along” with the text. Check comprehension by asking him to summarize main ideas from the section read. Sticky notes are a great tool for your child to flag key information or a passage that is interesting, surprising, or prompted questions.
    3. Poetry and journal writing are great creative outlets and writing exercises.