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Literacy is an amazing thing. It helps us read the instructions on a shampoo bottle (wet, lather, rinse, repeat) and make sense of the latest e-mail “good luck” chain (send this to 10 people, or else). As I have discussed in previous posts, oral language, reading and writing all come together in this idea of literacy. As your child’s first and most important teacher, you can do a lot to support literacy development.
For young children, adults should focus on two primary literacy goals. The first is to help them fall in love with the amazing world of stories and words. The first post in this series provided ideas on how families can support children’s oral language development. Families also support this goal by reading or telling stories with children. Even 10 minutes of reading aloud a day has a remarkable impact on children’s views of literature and future literacy attainment. Some of my best memories of my children’s childhood are of us curled up together reading stories. From Taxi Dog to the tales of Narnia, all of our lives were enriched in so many ways by our nightly literary adventures.
The second goal is to help them build a foundational understanding of literacy. For parents of young children, there are six ways they can incorporate literacy in real ways into their homes.
Once children develop the foundational understanding of literacy, the other stuff (identifying letters, matching sounds and letters, putting letters together to make words) comes more easily. For young children, we want literacy to be fun and engaging. We want them to aspire to the day when they can read stories on their own or write their own messages to friends, to reap the fruits of being fully literate human beings.