We parents all want to help our kids grow as readers and writers because we know it’s one of the best ways to help them experience success in school and in life. But life is busy for kids and parents. Most of us only have a few hours each evening with our elementary-aged kids, and during that time there is dinner to eat, practice to rush off to, homework to do and teeth to brush. And what about a little relaxation and playtime?
So when do you fit in extra time to reinforce literacy learning at home? It can be done. Here’s how…
1. Create literacy routines. Pick some times during your weekly schedule to devote to literacy. If you make it part of your routine, like teeth brushing, it’s more likely to happen.
2. Choose activities wisely. There is a lot to do and very little time. I’ve learned that I need to pick activities to do at home that reinforce the big literacy ideas: Print awareness, letter knowledge, phonological awareness, phonics, irregular word reading and writing, multisyllabic word reading and writing, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
3. Choose activities wisely. Did I already mention that? Yes. Well, choosing the right activities also means choosing the right activities for YOUR particular child. For it to work, home literacy practice should be motivating for the person practicing, so choosing activities related to your child’s interests and needs is absolutely the key to success. The best home literacy activities lay a foundation for future literacy success, and involve real-life, authentic literacy practice to help kids see how literacy connects to their own lives now and in the future.
4. Choose activities wisely. Oh, one more thing… The activities you pick must be manageable for YOU. The internet is full of awesome, crafty literacy fun. I appreciate those ideas, I pin them like crazy, and I plan to do them “sometime,” but realistically, if an activity involves tons of prep work ahead of time, it’s probably not going to happen in the fifteen minutes between dinner and soccer practice.
5. Keep it short. As I’ve mentioned, time is precious. If you’re focused on your goal, you can do more good in a five-minute chat about your child’s book than in an hour of workbook time.
6. Or don’t keep it short, but make it quality family time. Lots of literacy games are super fun and perfect for family game night; and nightly read-aloud time is one of the best ways to reconnect and recharge as a family at the end of a long day.
Here, you’ll find a growing catalog of ideas to help you find the best ways to reinforce literacy at home. If you want to assist your child with a particular skill, search the skill categories above to find a quick way to reinforce those skills during your family literacy times. Most of the activities are short and require basic materials, or none at all. Many ideas are really just literacy conversations. (Perfect for dinner time or driving time.) Some activities are more detailed and involve some preparation, but I’ve included them because I think they’re worth the extra effort.