Providing a Literacy-Rich Home Environment
Literacy development is a continuous process that begins in infancy when babies are first exposed to language, books, and stories. Its roots are in the home, with branches extending to other environments.
Books are the key ingredient to creating a literacy-rich home environment. Families can support language and literacy learning by creating a home atmosphere in which reading, writing, talking, and listening are a natural part of daily life.
Literacy-rich homes and families:
- Establish a regular time and place for daily read-aloud sessions, such as before bed or during bath time.
- Keep on hand a variety of reading materials: picture books, chapter books, atlases, dictionaries, magazines, and newspapers. Then also get library cards for everyone and use them often.
- Share their love of books and reading. Parents may say to children, "This was my favorite book when I was your age" or "I can't wait to start my new book."
- Talk about what they read and encourage children to think, solve problems, and make predictions. Parents may discuss the books a child is reading, then ask questions such as, "Did you ever...?" or "How would you feel if that happened to you?"
- Have plenty of paper and writing tools.
- Store books and writing materials in places children can reach.
- Have frequent conversations with each child, as well as with the family as a whole. Parents should encourage everyone to express their ideas, opinions, and feelings.
- Reinforce language and literacy skills by doing puzzles and playing games that reinforce literacy, such as Lotto, Candy Land, Old Maid, Concentration, Scrabble, and Trivial Pursuit.
- Model reading and writing for pleasure and for specific uses, such as making a shopping list.
- Respond positively to children's reading and writing efforts.
- Set aside plenty of time for reading by balancing time devoted to sports, television, and other activities.
These strategies tell children that reading and writing are important lifelong activities that are fun and useful. Families can also show children how much they value reading and writing by building partnerships with child development programs and schools.
Source: RIF Exchange Show #103.