Literacy is it part of your home routine?

Betty - posted on 09/09/2010 ( 7 moms have responded )

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MILFORD — Going through public school in the 1960s and 1970, in the small South Shore town where I grew up, was pretty uneventful. What I do remember about my schooling is that I learned to read with "Dick & Jane."

I grew up in a household of seven children, one of the oldest. None of us went to dance class, played team sports, or stayed after school for extra curricula activities. We were a team of seven - we played kick ball, roller skated, and tormented each other until my mother called us for supper.

Rainy days were a different story, though. We stayed inside and I got to be Miss Pattie, the kindergarten teacher. I had six students, two of which were always in the playpen sleeping. I remember the bottom drawer in the china cabinet full of crayons, markers, paper, pencils and all the school supplies a classroom needed. There were myriad Little Golden Books in the drawer, some had pages ripped out or torn, others were scribbled in by siblings who were attempting their first writing, and many of them had jelly or other food stains on them. I do not remember my parents reading to me, but I do remember my parents reading. My mother read the local newspaper and "Time" and "Look" magazines, and my father immersed himself in historical fiction novels. I am not sure they understood the significance of modeling good reading habits at the time, but I attribute my love of reading and my chosen vocation to my early home literacy experiences.

I begin this article sharing my childhood literacy experiences because the importance of developing a literate home environment cannot be overstated. Literacy development is a continuous process that begins in the home when infants are first introduced to language through stories, books, songs, and rhymes. Families can support language and literacy learning by creating a home atmosphere in which reading, writing, talking, and listening are a natural part of daily life. Parents should have frequent conversations with each child in the family and encourage everyone in the family to express their ideas, opinions, and feelings. Family time should consist of playing games that reinforce language and literacy skills. Scrabble, Concentration, Bingo, Candyland, I Spy, and puzzles are examples of games and activities that will motivate children to speak, think, and listen while having fun with the family.

Research shows that books are the key ingredient to creating a literacy-rich home environment. The amount of free reading done outside of school has consistently been found to relate to growth in vocabulary, reading comprehension, verbal fluency, and critical thinking. Students who read independently become better readers, score higher on achievement tests in all subject areas, and have greater content knowledge than those who do not (Krashen 1993; Cunningham and Stanovich 1991).

Parents of our English language learners, who are not proficient in English, can support their children's literacy and language development by reading to them in their native language. A great website for ELL parents that offers suggestions for developing a literate home environment is www.colorincolorado.org/families.

If you are wondering if your home environment promotes literacy development, you can access a home literacy environment checklist at www.getreadytoread.org.

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Yes the studies show that reading to your children makes a difference. We go to bed most night with a story, and my oldest children read independently. They will read a book a day. We have a small library in the house. It expands their knowledge base, vocabulary, etc.. Education is the answer. My friend is a reading specialist and just received her Dr degree and I have seen the studies showing the difference.

Desiree - posted on 09/11/2010

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i read to my toddler s every night before bed. my oldest- 9- reads all the time. he's into the junie b jones series and goosebumps. we take special trips to barnes and noble once every couplemonths to get new books- i take him to the library every 3 weeks to get books. i usually read him a chapter of whichever series we're into before his bedtime. i read alot myself and recently got the kindle, which has been my best friend. i think because he sees me reading and reading to his brothers (not to mention, it's mandatory for 20 min a day from his school as homework- though i think he exceeds that every day) he's learned to like reading on his own- before school made it mandatory- i'd let him read whenever he wanted to- i never really pressed it- and now he has such a love of it :)

Jennifer - posted on 09/11/2010

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I completely agree with all of that! As a preschool teacher I am amazed at how little some of the children I see are read to. We read every night, even to my 9 year old who is reading at a sixth grade level and does not need me to! Story time is a something we all look forward to every night and as a reward for good behavior sometimes we add more stories! I would love to find something I could get involved in that promotes literacy for children.

[deleted account]

We love to read, and we read a lot. We actually have a little library in our tiny little home--the spare bedroom has been fitted with wall to wall shelving across 3 walls, and houses our collection of just under 1000 books. Roughly 200 are children's books for our son. I love having a big book collection, but we use our local library a lot too.

We do not have cable, and have only one TV, a rarity this day in age, but it forces us to look to other sources for entertainment. We love to play board games--my son has been able to beat me in Backgammon & Mancala since he was 3yrs old. I think that conversation and cooperation are just as important in learning to read as letter recognition and phonics, thus I think that board games, even those that do not require reading, such as Chess, Backgammon, and Mancala, are very helpful in getting the mind ready for reading.

It has to be FUN, and kids have to actually see why it is beneficial for them to be able to read, not just hear why.

Dara - posted on 09/10/2010

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I love reading to my kids! I am an English teacher, and I love reading aloud, so my kids get read to whether they want to or not (they always want to). My five year old has been able to sound out words since before kindergarten just because she has been read to so often and picked up the familiar words. My baby loves to look at the pictures and mimics the sounds I make when I read to her. I would advise any parent to read to their kids. It is such a great experience for both parent and child, and when they are old enough, the child can read to the parent to develop those literacy skills.

Erin - posted on 09/10/2010

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I have my nose stuck in a book all the time, therefore my oldest seems to as well. She's 7 and often comes to try and read over my shoulder even! I have to shoo her away though because it's usually not appropriate material for her lol.
I read more to her when she was littler, just because I knew the importance of it. I don't really like reading aloud too much though, so now that she can read on her own, I like to listen to her.
We keep a big bookshelf in her room just for her books, and go "book shopping" often. Books are one thing I will always buy, more so than any toys or treats. And since it is one of my favorite hobbies, it's something she and I can enjoy together, one more excuse to spend time with one another.
I think it's very important for parents to realize the importance of reading. A book can take you anywhere, teach you things, expand your horizons, and just make a well rounded individual in general.

Sherri - posted on 09/09/2010

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I disagree I am an avid reader. However, I have never read to my children. Once in a blue moon I did. Honestly I hate it. My oldest two children although they were never read to don't ever put down a book. They actually get in trouble for it often at school because they are constantly reading instead of doing what they are supposed to be doing.

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