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Supporting your child’s reading and writing development at home

Supporting your child’s reading and writing development at home

With the big push for literacy learning in the elementary school years, parents are often looking for fun and impactful ways to support their child’s reading and writing development. As I mentioned in my article on Home Learning in the previous GMLS newsletter, reading at home is the most powerful way to increase your child’s academic success in the long-term. Now, here are twenty practical ideas for enriching literacy learning at home that are easy and fun for the whole family:

1. Let your children see you read for pleasure. Share vocabulary, quotes, characters, and the story with them. Compare similarities and differences between your book and the books your children are reading.

2. Send letters to relatives or friends. Let everyone in the family contribute a part of the writing or an illustration.

3. When you’re riding in the car, tell your children a story about when you were little or tell them a story about something that happened at work that day. Leave off the ending and let them make up the ending.

4. Have your children select three things they want to include in a story. Then, make up a story that includes those three things. For example, the selections might be a princess, a race car, and an ice cream cone. The children will love helping you find clever ways to include three things in the story.

5. Try different environments for reading a story aloud or storytelling. If it’s a scary story, tell it in the dark or read it with flashlights. If it’s a story about when your child was little, bring out an old toy and hold it as you tell the story.

6. Make a family book that is a collection of stories: favorite stories retold generation after generation or stories of family events (first visit by the tooth fairy). Younger children can dictate their stories to an older family member.

7. Help your child find a place in your home that is his/her favorite reading spot – a place where he/she can read comfortably with little distraction. Put a basket of books near the spot. Include pens, crayons, pencils, erasers and paper in the basket to encourage writing too. Every now and then, put a “literacy gift” in their basket to discover and explore.

8. Read aloud daily to your child. Talk about the pictures. Make predictions about a story and see if they come true. Read aloud a chapter-book before bed. Even older students benefit from read-alouds.

9. Help your child notice people reading and the writing all around them. Watch other people read. Count all the people on a bus, in a library or café who are reading. Read signs posted all around you.

10. Visit bookstores and libraries with your child. Window shop as you pass a bookstore, look at the books and imagine the storylines inside them. Then go in and see if your predictions came true.

11. Take books on trips with you. Read to your child on vacation or during a long wait at the doctor’s office. Encourage the people you are visiting to read to your child too.

12. Leave notes for your child in his lunch box or school bag. Leave notes for him/her around the house. Ask your child to leave notes for you. Have your child create a to-do list. Have him/her turn it into a checklist to encourage self-monitoring.

13. Encourage friends and relatives to give books to your child as gifts. Markers, colored pencils, pads of paper make excellent birthday or holiday gifts too.

14. Subscribe to a children’s magazine and have the magazine sent directly to your child. Show interest when it arrives. “Show me your favorite article.” “I love that picture of ______.”

15. Play word games such as Scrabble Junior, Boggle, ABC Bingo, Word Concentration, etc. Tell jokes, riddles and limericks. See how many words rhyme with _________.

16. Encourage your child to read aloud to younger siblings, cousins, neighbors, even stuffed animals.

17. Talk about your own childhood memories. Share your own favorite children’s books and authors. Share your successes and struggles in school.

18. Listen to your child’s retellings and expand them. Encourage them to add more detail. Say, “That would make an amazing story.” Then, imagine the story together.” Say, “You should write about that.” Say, “The way you said that sounds like a poem.” Then, encourage him/her to write it down as a poem.

19. Look back over your child’s writings with them. Notice and praise the growth your child is making as a writer.

20. Encourage your child to bring a journal whenever they go on family outings. Whether it’s to grandma’s house, a soccer game or restaurant, there will be plenty to notice, wonder and write about.

Adapted from: Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, Columbia University

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