Dear Bacon Families,
I would like to introduce myself, I am the literacy specialist at Bacon. The amazing Debbie Doner and I provide literacy intervention in small groups to complement classroom instruction. I have a passion for literacy and completed my M. Ed in Literacy many years ago. I taught first grade for eight years and third grade for nine years. I’m thrilled about my role as an interventionist at Bacon for the last three years.
When I tell people I’m a literacy interventionist, I tend to get asked, “What can I do to help my child be a better reader?” Well, the answer can be as complex as the process of reading but there are some EASY things you can do to promote literacy skills with your child.
1. Read to your kids.
I know everyone says this, but it really is a good idea. I’ve heard this referred to as the “chicken soup” of reading education. We prescribe it for everything. Reading to kids exposes them to richer vocabulary than they usually hear from the adults who speak to them, and can have positive impacts on their language development, intelligence, and literacy achievement.
2. Have them tell you a “story.”
One great way to introduce kids to literacy is to take their dictation. Have them recount an experience or make up a story. A typical first story may be something like, “I like hamburgers. I like my brother. I like playing with Connor.” Write it as it is being told, and then read it aloud. Point at the words when you read them, or point at them when your child is trying to read the story. Over time, with lots of rereading, don’t be surprised if your child starts to recognize words such as “I” or “like.” For more advanced students, make up oral stories while driving in the car. After you’ve told one, allow your child a turn.
3. Teach phonemic awareness.
Young children don’t hear the sounds within words. They hear “dog,” but not the “duh”-“aw”- “guh.” To become readers, they have to learn to hear these sounds (or phonemes). Play language games with your child. For instance, say a word, perhaps her name, and then change it by one phoneme: Jen-Pen, Jen-Hen, Jen-Men. Or, just break a word apart: chair… chch-ch-air. Games are a great way to get children learning.
4. Listen to your child read.
When your child has new books from school whether online or in print, have her read to you. If it doesn’t sound good (mistakes, choppy reading), have her read it again. Or better yet, instead of your child struggling through the book, read it to her. Then have her try to read it herself. Take it a page or a sentence at a time; you read it first, then she reads it right after. Studies show that this kind of repeated oral reading makes students better readers, even when it is done at home.
In closing, make reading a part of your daily life and kids will learn to love it. When I was eight years old, my mom had my brother and I stay at the table for twenty minutes after dinner to read. She would grab her book and read next to us. She also took me to the library to get books about every other week. These activities made me a lifelong reader. Set aside a little time this weekend when everyone turns off the TV and technology and does nothing but read. Above all, MAKE IT FUN! When you finish reading a book that has been made into a movie, make some popcorn and watch the movie together. The point is to make reading a regular enjoyable part of your family routine.