Parents, caregivers and family members can begin this process of developing literacy and creating children that are interested in reading, writing and language as soon as the child first comes home from the hospital. Surrounding a child in a language rich environment with lots of attention, interaction and lots of things to see and do in their space also is essential to literacy development.
- Spend Time Reading to Your Child
Reading to a child is perhaps the greatest gift that parents and family members can give to a child. Allowing the child to see, touch and play with books while you are reading creates an interest and a true emotional connection between reading, language and the feelings of being comforted and supported.
Kids should be encouraged to try to read along, say memorized parts of favorite books, point to the pictures and ask questions. Discussions and “what if” questions about the pictures and the story as kids get older springboards into creative thinking activities.
- Model Reading
As children get older they watch what Mom and Dad choose to spend their time doing. Reading a book for 15 or 20 minutes as a family is a very positive experience for children. As kids get older the entire family may choose to set a “reading break” and then they can discuss the books they are reading with each other.
It is important for parents to set aside their distractions, stay off the phone, no texting and no doing something else, just sit back, relax, and read a great book with the family.
- Tell Stories and Encourage Imagination
Even before children can read they love to tell stories. This should be encouraged by parents without any demands on structure of the story, just let the children explore their imagination out loud.
You may also want to ask the child if you can scribe their story and have the child do the artwork to illustrate the story. This allows you to keep a record of their stories and also provides children with something to share when others come to visit.