Techniques for Improving Your Child's Literacy Skills
In this article, we will point out, in bullet-point format, what you, as a parent or guardian, can do to help facilitate literacy skills.
6-12 Months: With book in hand,
- Hold child comfortably with face-to-face gaze
- Follow baby's cues for "more" and "stop"
- Point and name pictures
12 – 18 months
- Respond to child's prompting to read
- Let child control the book
- Be comfortable with the toddler's attention span
- Ask "where's the…?" and let child point
Some enjoyable books for this age are: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown; The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats; Moon Bear by Frank Asch; Corduroy by Don Freeman; Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt; Clap Hands by Helen Oxenbury; The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carles.
18 – 24 months
- Relate books to children's experience
- Use books as part of a routine
- Ask simple 'wh' questions
- Have child complete your sentences when reading
Some good books for this age are: The Little Red Hen by Bryon Barton; Wait Till The Moon is Full by Margaret Wise Brown; Clifford The Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell; All the books above, as well.
24 – 36 months
- Keep using books in routines
- Read at bedtime
- Be willing to read the same story over and over
- Ask "what's that?"
- Relate books to child's experiences
- Provide crayons and paper
Good books for this age are: Curious George by H.A. Rey; Stellaluna by Jannell Cannon; The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Suess; Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag; All Fall Down by Helen Oxenbury; Big Fat Hen by Keith Baker.
3 – 4 year olds
- Ask "What's Happening?"
- Encourage writing and drawing
- Let the child tell the story
- Read daily
- Engage in activities that expand your child's vocabulary
- Point out important features of book
- Point to words as you read
Some good books for this age include: Previous books discussed in greater detail; When Sophie Gets Angry, Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang; Where Does the Brown Bear Go? by Nicki Weiss; Where's Spot by Eric Hill; The Everything Book by Denis Fleming; Over in the Meadow by Ezra Jack Keats; Arthur's Birthday (and other "Arthur" books) by Marc Brown;
- Let your child see you reading for fun
- Let your child experience reading and writing by listening to good stories
- Read predictable books with pictures
- Encourage your child to experiment with writing
- Talk about words in the story
- Talk about sounds in words
- Weave language and literacy into every day activities
Good books for this age: Nate the Great by Marjorie Sharmat Danny and the Dinosaur by Sid Hoff Arthur's Reading Race by Marc Brown Berenstain Bears Go to School (and other Berenstain Bears books) - by Stan and Jan Berenstain; Red Light Green Light by Margaret Wise Brown.
How to help your first grader
- Continue to expose your child to shared and guided reading
- Model, teach, and practice strategies
- Play games and engage in activities to:
- Match voices and print
- Build sight word vocabulary
- Build phonemic awareness
- Encourage your child to write
- Discuss and retell stories aloud
First and Second Grade Books: Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish; Freight Train by Donald Crews; The Very Hungry Caterpillar (and other Very... books) by Eric Carle; Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel; There's An Alligator Under My Bed by Mercer Mayer; Freckle Juice by Judy Blume; Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business by Barbara Park; Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus; Mrs. Brice's Mice by Syd Hoff;
Second and Third graders benefit from
- Continued opportunity to read and discuss a variety of increasingly challenging and meaningful texts
- Continued practice reading for meaning using various strategies
- Exposure to and practice with more aspects of word analysis
- Practice building accuracy, fluency, and expression
- Practice reading silently
- Guidance and practice with specific comprehension strategies
- Encouragement to continue writing, using revisions, and correct spelling
- Hearing and discussing a variety of literature read aloud
Second and Third Grade Books: Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald J. Robert; There's A Boy in the Girl's Bathroom by Louis Sachar; Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor by Joanna Cole; Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder; Knight at Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne; Henry and Beezus by Beverly Cleary; Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume; The Hungry Thing - by Jan Slepian & Ann Seidler.
How you can help your child in the upper elementary grades
- Have family time to talk about books
- Take turns reading out loud
- Regular visits to the library
- Talk to child's teacher for input
- Use computer resources
- Make a regular time and quiet place for homework
- Ask questions about schoolwork and activities and share daily experiences
- Ask and help your child to write notes and letters
First to 5th Grade — ask clear, focused questions to help facilitate comprehension, such as:
- What did you notice about the side of the beanstalk?
- Tell me what you remember about the giant?
- In what ways are a flower and a tree alike?
- What differences to do you find between a flower and a tree?
- What would you call these (while pointing to an illustration in a book)?
- What else belongs in this group (while pointing to an illustration in a book)?
- What happened after Jill came in after playing in the snow?
- Why do you think "this" happened?
- What do you think will happen next?
Of course, keep it playful, and allow your child to ask you questions too!Activities to facilitate phonological awareness (K – 1)
- Play rhyming games-ex: finish the rhyme - to smell a rose, you use your____.
- Tell me the first sound you hear in this word. For example "What's the first sound in sssssun?
- Take a word and change one sound. For example, start with the word "big" and say "Change the middle sound to make another word for 'insect'."
- Clapping to syllables: Let's clap for each beat we hear in "open": o(clap)…pen(clap)"
- Tapping to syllables: Tap for each sound we hear in "hop": /h/ (tap) /a/ (tap) /p/(tap).
- Do these words rhyme? "pin-pen?" How about "ten-pen?"
- What's the first sound in the word "boy"- what's another word that begins with that sound?
- When reading, talk about word meanings (k-5th grade)
- Do fill-ins-ex: "You eat soup with a ___ (k-2nd grade)
- Play guessing games, giving descriptive clues (k-3rd grade)
- Categorize - "A monkey is an animal. Can you tell me three more?" (k – 3rd grade)
- Opposites - "A rabbit is fast, a turtle is ______" (k-3rd grade)
- Word Webs 2nd – 5th Draw a circle (or any shape) in the middle of a page. Then draw lines coming out of that middle word and ask your child to fill in the circles (or squares, whatever) with words that are associated with that word. This helps increase word knowledge and awareness. Here is a sample of one:
In addition to working on vocabulary:
- Read to your child with lots of feeling - from pre-k on
- Take turns doing this with your child - k to 4th grade
- Check in while reading: is child understanding text? - any age when you have a concern that your child may not be understanding text
- Retell all or part of the story - pre-k to 3rd grade
- Act out the story - pre-k to 4th grade
- Talk about context - 2nd to 4th grade
- Make up stories together-write them down and read them together. Practice rate and expression - 1st to 4th grade
- Talk about homonyms. Make up sentences with them - 1st grade and up
- Talk about multiple meanings (Examples: "The bat flew into the cave." "He hit the ball with his bat." "The elephant picked up the tree trunk with his trunk and put it in the trunk of the car.") - 3rd grade and up
- Drill words on a regular basis-especially error words
- Word of the day
- Put new words on screen-saver
- Put words on the floor or table-call out word and have child find the word and use it in a sentence
- Word hunt-find the word in print
- Card games such as Go Fish or Bingo using target sight words
- The National Reading Panel
- Reach Out and Read Early Developmental Milestones and Activities
- The Source For Reading Fluency, by Nancy B. Swigert
- Florida Reading Association
- SPELL-Links to Reading and Writing, by Jan Wasowicz, Kenn Apel, Julie Masterson, Anne Whitney