Every wonder how you can help your child build the necessary literacy skills without reinventing the wheel? Many parents rack their brains on ways to help their children develop in becoming a good reader. But a lot of the existing tools are right before them. With the increase of dual working parents, home literacy environments provide children with additional self-access to literacy in their natural home environment.
Here are a list of ways in which you, as a parent, can develop your child’s home literacy environment.
TIP 1: Interests ONLY!
Evaluate which part of your home you would like designate as your “literacy center” and supply this area with developmentally appropriate materials and books your child can access independently at their leisure or with your adult guidance. You may want to think about special interests your child may have. If he or she loves Dora and Daniel Tiger, then definitely try and integrate books on topics your child couldn’t be more passionate about.
TIP 2: Get out that label maker.
Your home literacy environment should foster early reading skills by being “print rich” in order to foster a connection to letter recognition, words, and letter word-association skills. Areas and objects in the home can be labeled to encourage organic conversations about letters and words. Consider labeling objects your child uses on a daily basis such as a chair or toy. Also, in the play room you can label baskets with different types of toys such as legos, dolls, etc.
TIP 3: Organization is Key.
When creating a home literacy environment, it is highly encouraged to ensure that the area is clearly organized to avoid overstimulation. It may be helpful to use containers to categorize literacy materials according to their purpose, such as placing children’s books in one container, and magnetic letters in another container, and so forth. The organization is two-fold, since it helps teach children words, but also reinforces organization skills children can use now and hopefully later down the road.
TIP 4: Reading is not just about books. WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!
A large part of literacy is not simply reading books but also the correlation between print and writing. It is paramount to provide a variety of interchangeable writing materials like markers, highlighters, pens, and pencils to help you child maintain and develop their fine motor control. “Read the Room” is a great activity for children to explore environmental print around the home by writing the words they see or even by drawing pictures! By using a clipboard with the “Read the Room” activity, a kinesthetic-based learning component will help keep little ones “on the move”.
TIP 5: Real Life Applications.
Contextually-based activities can also be easily integrated into your home literacy environment. You and your child could write a grocery list together to facilitate letter/word knowledge, improve fine motor skills, all while enhancing vocabulary development. Not to mention, children feel empowered when they are given a role typically given to adults. Our goal as parents should be to make our children feel autonomous in the world around them!
TIP 6: Talk about the Letters and Words You See at Home
Not only is reading and writing important, oral language is also an important component of early literacy development. Take opportunities to talk about environmental print in the home. It could be anything from a cereal box to a newspaper or magazine. Children enjoy dictating information for an adult to write after they have drawn a picture or read a book with an adult. Children are more curious about words and letters that you may think.
TIP 7: Monkey See, Monkey Do!
Model reading for pleasure to your children, this will help them see that learning and literacy is a part of our everyday lives. Strive to model to your children that we are lifelong learners!
Elizabeth Fraley, M.Ed. is the CEO/Founder of Kinder Ready™