More Ideas for Supporting Your Child's Literacy

  • Reading is making meaning from print. Sometimes as parents, we focus too much on the print instead of the meaning conveyed by the print. Instead, it’s important for the parent to begin with what is meaningful for the child and then use print to reinforce the meaning. For a young child or new reader, support understanding of the meaning of print by making a book that includes pictures of the child’s favorite foods or activities. The child can make up a story to go with the pictures and the parent and child collaboratively can write the print that goes with each picture. This works with older children, too. Say, your teenager wants to purchase some music equipment. The parent and student can search on the Internet for prices, types of equipment, warranties, etc. The student can put together the information into a meaningful format that he can use for shopping and as a reference. Here are some more ideas for supporting literacy…

    Reading to your child for just 10 to 15 minutes each day reinforces the joy of reading, continues to give children good reading models, and builds your child’s attention span. Even your middle-schooler may enjoy a family read-aloud each evening, especially if it means a little extra attention from you.

    Take turns reading with your child. You read a page or chapter, then your child reads a page or chapter.

    Expose children to reading material that will capture their interests, including high-interest magazines, crosswords and other puzzles, newspapers, etc. Your public library has all of these available for checkout.

    Keep high-interest books and reading materials on hand everywhere you go— in the car, on the bus, when waiting for an appointment, etc. Books on tape also can be good in the car or at home. These also are available at your public library.

    Create homemade books with pictures of your child, family members, favorite places, pets, and activities. Work together to compose a story to go with each picture. Make a book after the family vacation or trip to Grandma’s house. Old magazines also can be used for making books.

    Have your child make his or her own books with illustrations and stories.

    Build reading and writing into daily activities such as making and reading lists of things to buy, things to do, items to pack, directions to follow, etc.

    Tell your children family stories. Children need to hear stories, in order to tell them or to write stories themselves.

    Post current vocabulary on note cards and place them in strategic places at home. Keep a set handy for reviewing in the car, at doctor’s appointments, etc.

    Label items in the home with notecards. Add adjectives to the labels. For instance, post a card that says “door,” add “wooden,” and then “white.” Ask your child to help you come up with adjectives to describe the familiar items around the house… from the tall shelf to the full laundry basket!

    Ask your child’s teacher to send home appropriately leveled books for your child to practice reading each night for 10 to15 minutes. Rereading the same books over and over can improve comprehension and fluency.

    Follow a recipe and cook something together with your children.

    Put notes of encouragement in your child’s bookbag and lunch/snack bag. Use a combination of simple words and pictures for your new reader.

    Turn on the captioning while your child is watching TV.

    Keep a family or parent-child journal. One day you write to your child and the next day your child writes to you. Include drawings, too. You will end up with a family treasure.

    Use a small white board in your child’s bedroom for notes, reminders, vocabulary words, planning long-term projects, or to use in brainstorming ideas before starting a writing assignment.

    The more your child reads or interacts with print, the more automatic reading will become. Keep in mind that ANY reading and writing is better than no reading or writing.