Promote reading early and often

Kellie Bishop
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by Kellie Bishop

As everyone adjusts to being back in school, we are reminded of the importance of education. Your children likely just started the new school year in a new classroom with teachers who will spend the next several months teaching them as much as they can about many different subjects. While the teachers are there to guide your child’s education and promote their academic development, they get limited time with your child. Education begins at home and requires work by parents and teachers alike. One of the most important things we can do as parents is to encourage and foster early literacy, or the ability to read and write. If your child develops literacy skills early, he or she is more likely to enjoy and perform well in school. Whether your child is school age or still in the baby and preschool phase, there are ways you can promote literacy at home and set the tone for their educational experience at school.  

You can begin promoting early literacy for your child during infancy. Reading to your newborn or infant helps develop their language skills, and they become attuned to your voice and the various tones of voice as you speak. Board books with pictures of common things, such as faces, animals, and common objects, but with few words allow your baby to identify common things around them without being lost in all the words they do not yet understand. You can turn reading a simple board book into an interactive experience by describing the sound the animal makes or talking about the colors of various objects pictured in the book. As your child grows into a toddler and preschool aged child, they will enjoy more complex books with rhyming language and longer stories. You can also encourage interaction while reading these books by asking what they think will happen next or encouraging them to make their own ending to the story. Reading to your child regularly from a young age helps support language development and reading comprehension.

As your children get older and are able to read themselves, you can take them to a local library to pick out books that they want to read. You can also encourage your child to tell you about what they have read or write their own stories. Many families use meal times as an opportunity to encourage their children to talk about their day or tell stories, which encourages creativity and language development. You can also include older children in common activities at home that require literacy skills, such as making shopping lists or writing in cards. If you are making a shopping list, completing Christmas cards, or addressing envelopes, include your child and ask them to help you with these tasks as it will help develop their literacy and promote independence. Finally, for adolescent aged children, you can make literacy a game. Adolescents love competition and like to feel as if they are in control, so encouraging literacy through a book challenge is a great way to keep them engaged in reading and writing. You can develop incentives for reading more books or writing short stories, which will promote their education while also allowing them to exert independence and feel accomplished. 

Education begins at home and you have the ability to promote healthy educational habits for your children by encouraging early literacy through talking and reading to your child regularly. Using these tips and developing your own activities for reading and writing from a young age will allow your child to develop literacy skills early, making their educational journey through all subjects in school more enjoyable and successful.