Learning to read and write doesn't start and stop at school. It is important for parents to foster and encourage reading and writing to ensure your child continues to develop her literary skills as she grows. The two go hand in hand, as it is the key to building reading skills, according to Scholastic.com contributor Susan Neuman, Ph.D., a professor specializing in early literacy development. Support your child's growing literacy skills by engaging her in fun reading and writing activities at home.
1. Storytime Fun
Turn reading time with your child into an exciting activity she looks forward to. Instead of simply reading to your child, you could really get into the characters, changing your voice and acting out what they are doing, according to childhood educator Lenora McWhorter. Encourage your child to join in if she can read. You could also have mini story time parties where you and your child can dress up in outfits or costumes relating to the story you'll be reading. After reading the story, you can work on simple crafts related to the story. Another idea is to have your child predict the story ahead of time based on the title or the cover of the book and then after reading it, discuss how close she was.
2. Reading Vocabulary Practice
Help your emerging reader learn letter shapes and words by labeling things around your house, and have her help you make lists. This exposure to letters and words helps your child learn to recognize letter shapes, according to Reading Rockets, the U.S. Department of Education's multimedia literacy initiative. If your child has already started to read, you can help grow her vocabulary by saying and writing down the names of things she asks about. You can also take her grocery shopping and have her practice saying the names of food items. Bring along paper for you to write the name of each item. Other ways to improve vocabulary at home include helping to read recipes and forming letter shapes with craft dough, as recommended by Page Ahead, a children's literacy program.
3. Writing Activities
Encourage your child to learn writing by working on a story together. Using a blank picture book, the two of you can write the family story, such as about mommy and daddy and what they do, and about siblings and the family pet. Have your child draw a picture on each page relating to the sentence written on that page. Another idea, from Reading Rockets, is to tell your child a family story related to her, such as when you brought her home from the hospital or her first birthday, then have her write the story in her own words. You can also encourage older children with stronger writing skills to keep a journal about their day, writing in it at least once daily.
4. Writing Games
Motivate your child to write more with writing-themed games. For one activity, you and your child can take turns writing sentences to come up with a story. Neither of you can speak so you don't give each other ideas. Just see how silly and funny the story will turn out to be with two different writers. Another word game, suggested by Scholastic, is to have your child cut out pictures of people or scenes, then challenge him to look for words in the magazine that would best describe each picture. You can also play a continuous post office game, by decorating a cardboard box to look like a mailbox. Get the whole family involved in writing letters to each other, addressing them properly and putting them in the pretend mailbox. You can also send each other bills, invitations and grocery coupons.
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