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03 / 23 / 2022

How To Enhance Your Child’s Literacy Skills

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Being involved in your child’s literacy is about more than buying your child books and witnessing him develop the ability to read.  It is about building the skills to accurately comprehend what is read and to have verbal and written conversations about the content. 

 

 

Your role as a parent is to set a positive example for your child in all aspects of life, including reading and education.  Presenting the activity of reading as an enjoyable one rather than as a chore can make a world of difference in your child’s literacy and attitude towards opening a book.

 

 

Here is how you can play a part in your child’s development of literacy skills, at various stages.

 

 

Beginning readers

 

If you have a young child in the early stages of learning to read, be sure to spend time reading aloud with him.  As he becomes immersed with the words he is seeing and hearing, literacy begins to take shape.  Encourage him to try sounding out words and to read small chunks of text aloud.  Show him pictures and objects that relate to the words on the page.  Have him write words that are a struggle, which will also work on the fine motor skill of handwriting.  These activities will provide him with an even deeper connection to what he is reading and to make sense of the world around him.  You can even ask him basic recall questions about what he just read, such as the characters’ names and where the story takes place.

 

 

Competent readers

 

For an older child who has a solid foundation in phonics, go beyond the literal action of reading and focus on enforcing comprehension abilities.  Before reading, have your child look at the cover of the book.  Ask her to make predictions about the text based solely on its title and the image on the cover.  She can even write down some questions she hopes to have answered by reading the book.  This exercise of preparing self-generated questions will have her invested in what she is reading, further aiding in the development of literacy.  Keep in mind that these same pre-reading activities can be applied to other types of text, such as an article in a children’s magazine or a chapter in a textbook.  

 

 

While reading, check in with your child to be sure she understands what she has read.  There is a difference between being able to properly pronounce words and being able to accurately comprehend the meanings of the words in context.  You might ask her questions about the characters’ personalities or about the story’s events, and you can encourage your child to make an educated prediction about what may happen next.  Give her the opportunity to ask for clarification at any point, before continuing with the story. 

 

 

After reading, have your child demonstrate what she has comprehended by summarizing the main events and conflicts of the story and sharing details about how the characters felt during those main events.  If the text she read was something informative, such as a magazine article, ask her to name three interesting facts she learned.  Have her elaborate by explaining why those facts intrigued her. Regardless of reading a fiction text or a nonfiction text, you can also ask your child to relate what she just read to another book or article, a movie or television show, or an event she experienced.  This literacy exercise encourages your child to think beyond the words on the page to make meaningful connections.

 


Proficient readers

 

To enhance literacy in a teenager, continue to build on the skills fostered in your child’s early years.  Although there is no longer a necessity to read aloud together, reading time can still be a joint activity.  Ask your teen what he is reading in school; this can include fiction and nonfiction works.  Encourage him to share details about the text and to explain the value of the content he is learning about in his classes.  This conversation causes your teen to go beyond the basic understanding level of literacy to the analyzation level of what he is learning. 

 

 

Set aside time with your teen each day or each week to read something of interest.  Even though you and your teen may be reading different texts, you can still discuss the content with one another to continue strengthening the literacy elements of comprehension and analysis.  This also allows for the continued building of communication skills.  All the while, this collaborative activity reinforces reading as something enjoyable while building on the existing skill sets. 

 

 

For both the older children and the teenagers, another important part of literacy growth is the development of a strong vocabulary.  When your child or teen comes across words that are unfamiliar or have multiple meanings, encourage him to use a dictionary to find those definitions.  You can be part of this learning process by taking turns creating sentences using these new words.  This activity will expand his vocabulary, hence further strengthening his ability to read and to comprehend content.

 


Support your reader at every stage

 

Be sure to play an active role at every stage in your child’s reading journey.  Your involvement as a positive role model can have a significant impact on her literacy development and can turn her into a lifelong learner with the foundation needed for success.

 

 

 

References:

National Center on Improving Literacy. “Supporting Your Child’s Literacy Development at Home”. 2021. Retrieved 26 October 2021. https:// improvingliteracy.org/brief/supporting-your-childs-literacy-development-home 

 

Dunst, C., Valentine, A., Raab, M., and Hamby, D. (2013). Relationship between child participation in everyday activities and early literacy and language development. CELL Reviews, 6(1), Center for Early Literacy Learning, Morganton, NC: Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute.

Guernsey, L., Levine, M., Chiong, C., and Severns, M. (2012). Pioneering literacy in the digital wild west: Empowering parents and educators. Washington, DC: Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

National Urban League. (2008). Parent/Guardian engagement in adolescent literacy. New York: Author.