Easy Ways to Foster Early Literacy At Home
One of the most frequent questions I am asked here at My Little Poppies has to do with reading development in young children. Readers are often curious about whether I taught our children to read. The answer is no, I did not use any reading program to teach our children; however, there are many things we do at home to promote literacy.
Basically, what you want to do is to read to your children often, talk to them all the time, and expose them to a wide variety of print. It’s most helpful if both parents genuinely love to read- let your children see you reading!
This is my favorite parenting book. I’ve gushed about it countless times on this site. I truly believe that it should be required reading for every parent and educator. Read aloud early, read often, read well past when they can read independently. You’ll be making memories, building knowledge, and encouraging a lifelong love of reading.
We LOVE audiobooks over here! Over the years, I’ve amassed quite a collection by making my own and buying through the Scholastic sales at our preschool. I have three book-obsessed children and while I read to them often throughout the day, it’s impossible for me to read to them as much as they’d like me to! Audiobooks are a wonderful solution. They are also great for road trips and quiet time. Audiobooks are also a fantastic way to introduce poetry and music appreciation. Don’t forget to check out my review of SKYBRARY by Reading Rainbow, in case you want to add audiobooks into your routine but do not have any, or do not have enough space. I predict that this program will be a game-changer for lots of kids.
When I worked in schools, it was common practice to label everything. Why? Because exposure to print is so important! As a result, I have oodles of labels at home. Let me tell you, initially I received some teasing about this from family members but I felt redeemed when a letter came home from Leo’s kindergarten teacher suggesting that students label items at home.
Labeling items at home can actually be a fun game for children. Simply go around, and ask children to name items and write the words down for them. Later, cut the words out and laminate them so that they last. Hand the labels to your child one at a time and have them find the item and tape the label on to it. That activity alone is a great way to promote literacy!
In addition to labels, I also have visual schedules around the house. In the kids’ bathroom, I have our nightly schedule posted on the bathroom door, and I have How to Shower posted in the shower. Each child has their drawers labeled with words and visuals so that putting laundry away is easier while also boosting those reading skills!
Our family doesn’t watch much television. We can go days, weeks even, without turning it on. That said, when my children watch a movie I will turn on closed captioning. They have never once complained about it and the closed captioning provides print exposure. It’s a simple way to make screen time more educational.
Talk, talk, talk, and talk! Have conversations with your children, answer their questions, make up stories! When you read a book aloud to your child, talk about the cover, the title, the illustrator, the author. Make predictions about the story, discuss your favorite characters, and come up with alternative endings! Do not underestimate the power of the spoken word when it comes to reading development!
As a board game lover, I honestly believe that any board game boosts early literacy, however, there are a plethora of wonderful games out there for pre-readers and early readers, including;
EXPOSURE TO A VARIETY OF PRINT
It is so important to expose your children to a variety of print. In addition to various books of different genres, be sure to provide your children access to magazines, newspapers, audiobooks, and even ebooks. All you need is a library card to accomplish this, folks!
SONGS AND RHYMES
Don’t underestimate the importance of music and rhyme when it comes to reading! Many see rhyming as a necessary first step toward reading development. Expose your kids to a variety of music- not just kids’ music. Sing those songs loudly and dance in your kitchen– you’ll be boosting those language skills while making memories!
ACCESS TO WRITING MATERIALS
All three of my children were interested in writing before they started reading. Leo used to write book after book after book, and when I wasn’t available to spell words for him, he’d copy one of his favorite books. Writing and reading are two important and intertwined skills. Make sure your children have plenty of opportunities to write and draw. Provide easy access to a variety of paper, notebooks, journals, crayons, markers, pencils, gel pens.
Each of my children have an “office” in their bedroom closet. They go in there to “work” and they will often write letters to each other or draw pictures. Recently, as part of our Brave Writer curriculum, the children made their own mailboxes and placed them outside their bedroom doors. They love to send and receive mail! Also, a couple of years ago, I placed marker boards with dry-erase markers on each child’s door. What kid doesn’t love to write with dry erase markers? This is an easy way to encourage writing at home.
LET THEM STAY UP…
One way that we encourage reading in our home is to have a set bedtime but allow for post-bedtime reading. My kids think they are all big and bad because they stay up late, while my husband and I smile knowing that we are growing readers.
Each member of the family has one of these fantastic reading lights. I’ve had mine for almost eight years and it’s still going strong and –believe me- it takes a beating!
Now, it’s your turn. How do you foster early literacy at home? Share here! I love hearing from you all!
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and GeekMom. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram