Early Literacy Tips for Families
Here are some tips for parents to help children build their literacy skills and love of reading, shared by the volunteers of Twice Upon a Time:
- Learning to read begins at birth.
- Parents and caregivers are a child’s first and best teachers.
- Talk to your child. Children learn words, and narrative (story), because they listen to you talk and learn to join in the conversation. Tell your baby the story of what you are going to do today. Tell your toddler the story of your trip to the park or the library.
- Sing to your child. Singing is a fun way to develop language skills. Sing slowly so that children can recognize the words and patterns, such as rhyming and repeating.
- Play with your child. Use playtime to help your child put thoughts into words and talk about what they are doing when they are playing.
- Encourage your child to recognize letters and print in your daily life. Make it a game. Look for letters on signs, in the grocery store, and in the park. Connect different letters to different shapes. Which letters look like triangles? Which ones look like circles?
- Read to your child. Reading together develops vocabulary and comprehension. It also helps children understand the book as a physical object or tool. How does it open? How do we turn the pages? Where do we find the name of the author? Which languages are read left to right and which are read right to left? Most of all, reading together motivates children to want to learn to read!
- Ask questions when you are reading. What do you think happens next? Where is the fox going? Why is the girl hiding in this picture? Give children time to respond and then praise them. Point out shapes, words, or pictures, or link the story to your daily life.
- Children like to hear the same stories repeated. Reading the same story is good for children, even if it is boring for adults! Every time you read the same story, children get something new out of it. Repetition helps children reinforce their learning, recognize words, and understand narrative.
- It is okay to read only a few pages of a book if you are busy. Focus on building literacy skills in the time you have.
- It is okay to stop reading if your child gets distracted. Pay attention to how your child reacts and take your cues from them. Read when your child is most receptive rather than trying to impose a reading time.
- Make sure your child sees you reading. All reading is good — books, comics, magazines, articles, or newspapers. Boys often fall behind girls in reading skills, so it is very important for them to see men reading.
- If you do not speak French or English at home, use these tips in your own language. It is important for children to be able to speak to their family members in their own language. It is also important to learn a language from a native speaker. Learning more than one language has many benefits — academic, economic, emotional, and more!
- Your child will learn English and French at school so do not worry about teaching them before they start school. The most important thing for early literacy is encouraging a love of reading and learning, and you can do that in any language!