At Home Literacy Tips for Learning
Often parents wonder about the best time to start teaching their children reading and writing. The average child learns very basic writing skills around 3-4 years of age and knows how to read simple, age-appropriate books between 5-7. To get here, experts also say that the sooner parents start reading with their children, the better!
STOCK YOUR HOUSE WITH BABY BOOKS
Parents who want their children to enjoy reading should stock their house with baby books from infancy. Engage the senses of infants and toddlers by getting soft cloth books, interactive books with crinkly pages and textures, and books with a lot of pictures in them.
Parents should also remember to read to their babies from books, even if they can’t necessarily understand the language yet. Infant and baby books help with language development, so they will eventually pick up on the simple words and plots in these books.
MAKE STORY TIME A HABIT
Habits aren’t just for adults. Simple habits, like teeth brushing and bedtimes, are good for child development. A Storytime habit introduced early on helps children understand that reading is a normal part of everyday life.
Reading shouldn’t just be part of a bedtime routine, either. Cementing reading as something that anyone can do for pleasure makes it more likely that children will read outside of necessity. Reading to children at nighttime is a wonderful way to connect with them during a low-energy part of the day. But parents should also set aside time during the day to encourage their children to interact with books and read alongside them rather than to them.
PRACTICE NAME WRITING
As children get older and develop fine motor skills, you can introduce them to their name! The average child learns to write their name around 3-6 years of age, but that doesn’t mean parents have to wait until then to teach them.
Start by writing their name out for them, then hold their hand and guide them as they write their name, praising them as they make progress. Encourage them to continue practicing tracing their name and copying their name and trying to draw it from memory. Always use positive reinforcement as they learn, and don’t be discouraged or critique them if they don’t pick it up immediately.
WANT YOUR CHILD TO READ? BE A READER.
Something simple parents can do to encourage their child’s literacy is to read their books in front of them. Very young children learn from their parents by copying their actions. Early on in their learning process, this might look like a child imitating the act of looking at a book (even picking up their parents’ book) and flipping through the pages. Or they might want to “fill in” a crossword puzzle or pretend to write when their parents write.
Encourage their interest in books, reading, and writing by letting them imagine reading and writing on their terms as a very young child. As mentioned earlier, even reading from a book to an infant can start them on the road to success.
BE SURE TO PRAISE WHEN THEY MAKE PROGRESS
Studies on positive reinforcement are clear – the more we reward good behavior, especially at a young age, the more likely a child is to repeat that behavior independently. Not being able to read isn’t a bad thing, and parents should never punish their children for making a reading or writing mistake as that won’t help them in their reading journey. However, praising strides in their literacy is encouraging to children. Positive reinforcement can be used for almost any teaching moment, especially reading and writing.
After all, reading and writing is learning a new language. Although adults may not remember what it was like to learn to read, many of us recall how hard it was to learn another language in school and how good it felt when we finally got it. Clap when they sound out a word. Tell them how much their letter writing has improved. Encourage their creativity by letting them make up a story based on the pictures they see rather than reading the story to them. The more fun, exciting, and mentally rewarding it is for them, the more they’ll like doing it.
Integrating literacy into everyday life with children is one of the easiest (and most enjoyable) ways to help them celebrate language and love reading for life.