3 Back to School Routines to Build Your Child’s Literacy Skills

3 Back to School Routines to Build Your Child's Literacy Skills

Early elementary school literacy instruction is focused on instilling a love of learning and supporting children as they learn to read and write. Although you might not have a background in education, it’s important to remember that you truly are your child’s first teacher and there are many ways you can support your child’s learning at home. Parents play a vital role in their child’s literacy development: Through their actions and words, they show children that literacy is a valuable and worthwhile endeavor.
Here are 3 simple routines you can use to promote literacy at home:

Create a Cozy Reading Corner

Inspire your child to love reading by setting up a cozy reading corner. Include a bean bag chair, soft lighting, stuffed animals, and a basket with their favorite books (for inspiration, Pinterest has some fun ideas). You can support your child in reading by encouraging them to draw pictures or write about their favorite characters from the stories they read, and display their creative work using a piece of twine and clothespins. You can make it a fun ritual to set up a time each evening for your child to spend time in their cozy reading corner. If possible, find a comfortable spot and dive into a new book yourself!

Begin a Word-of-the-Week Practice

This is a fun way to increase your child’s vocabulary. Write down an interesting, wacky, or difficult word, such as “magnificent” or “humongous.” Next, look up the meaning online or in a dictionary, or provide your child with a kid-friendly definition of the word. Encourage your child to act out the word or draw a picture of the word’s meaning. Challenge the whole family to use the word of the week in daily conversations. Keep a tally of how many times each family member uses the word, or even better, write down the sentences you hear them say. Allow older children to help choose the word of the week.

Start a Family Book Club

Involve the whole family in reading by starting a family book club. Books can vary from simple and short picture books to longer chapter books that you can read aloud to your child.
Here is a fun project for the whole family. You’ll need:

  • One medium-sized mason jar, tin can, or bucket
  • Small pieces of paper or craft sticks
  • Pencils
  • Notebooks for each family member
  • Coloring materials
  • Sticky notes
  • Stickers and other creative supplies
  • A cheap basket or bin

What to do:

  1. Gather your family in a common area and brainstorm all the books you’d like to read together. Need inspiration? Find ideas by visiting your local library, online bookseller, or find recommendations from other educators or parents online.
  2. Write your book ideas on the small pieces of paper or craft sticks. Encourage your child to help you.
  3. When you are finished, put all of the slips or sticks in your bucket.
  4. Take turns shaking up the jar and choosing one of the books. Next, set aside time to request the book from the library, or find an online version instead.
  5. Read the book together as a family. Some books may take longer than one week to read.
  6. Name your book club. Deciding on a fun, catchy name will foster even more togetherness and get your kids excited about reading.
  7. Buy notebooks for each family member participating in the book club. Explain that these will be your reading journals. Decorate the journals with colorful patterns and stickers. Tell your child that they will use their reading journals to record their ideas, thoughts, pictures, and questions.
  8. Encourage deep thinking while you are reading with your child by prompting them to think about questions like:
    • What is the story about?
    • Who is the main character in the story? What are they trying to do?
    • What is your favorite part of the book?
    • How did this story make you feel?
    • What new facts did you learn about this topic?
    • What questions do you have after reading?
  9. Purchase a cheap basket or bin to organize your family book club supplies. Keep markers, pencils, erasers, and other creative supplies in your bin.

For more tips on how to support your child’s literacy development at home, check out Education.com’s Parent’s Guide for your child’s grade level.

By April Brown (M.Ed), writer and education consultant based in Austin, TX.

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