Tips for Helping your Child with Literacy
With kids learning more from a younger age, we look at some ways you can help young children with literacy.
Reading and writing are integral for everything we do on a day-to-day basis. Helping your child to succeed and learn to love literacy is easier and a lot more fun than you may think.
The first things your child will be taught in school are reading and writing. The early years goal is to ingrain students with a strong understanding of language, both spoken and written. The importance of literature is also emphasised with the hope of instilling a life-long love of reading.
Even at nursery level, many schools are starting to teach the fundamentals of reading. As your kids will be starting from a young age, we've put together some helpful tips on how to get your little ones loving literacy.
Reading from an early age
It may feel silly, but even reading to your baby in the womb is a good way to start them off. It will help them get to know you and the voices of other important people in your life. Once they are born, just talking to them will help to plant the seeds of understanding. Reading to your baby is relaxing and enjoyable for you both, and it's a great part of a bedtime routine - even in the early days.
Children seem to be learning faster and earlier. Don't be surprised to see nursery and reception-aged children coming home with books to read - even if, in the beginning, there are very few or no words.
Speak with your child's room leader or teacher so that you can develop an understanding of what is going on at school and what you can do to help at home.
Many children today are learning to read through phonics. Each letter is given the sound it makes, for example, the letter "A" is pronounced "ah" not "ay". Children break down each word into their individual sounds and then blend the sounds to make words. So "dog" would be broken down to the "d" "o" and "g" sounds then strung together to make the word. When they are first learning you will hear your child pronounce each letter before they finally produce the full word.
Keep in mind some words don't follow the phonics rule. These may be given to your child as a list of 'tricky' words. Use these words, even spelling them out, whenever you can. Sometimes pointing out the context of the word in the sentence may help them to decipher the meaning and thus the word itself. You'll see in most cases the child will sound it out phonetically and then say the 'right' word as soon as they figure out what it is.
Don’t worry Biff and Chip does come to an end eventually!
Love of books
It's important to create the opportunity for your children to learn to love reading, not just do it. Fortunately, it's not that difficult as there are so many fun ways to enjoy a book. Make it a cold weekend treat to cuddle under the covers with a cup of hot chocolate. Talk about your favourite childhood books and stories and read them to your children. Encourage them to plop down on their bed or a comfy chair with a good book and enter an exciting story - one where dogs do ballet, or dinosaurs talk.
Whatever they are excited about right now, there will be a children's book about it.
What you can do:
- Learn the phonics alphabet with them
- Sound out and say words when you're out and about
- There are plenty of fun computer games and apps to help with learning to read
- While reading to them you can ask them to start sounding out and saying easy words
- If they are struggling, help them by pointing to the appropriate visuals
- Don't compare your child's reading level to other children either in their class or external friendship groups
- Visit your local library
- Try not to pressure your child
- The most important thing is to help children enjoy reading, if they are tired or cranky, stop.