Your child’s first experiences with literacy happen long before they start school (Morrow, 2009). Young children mimic their parents’ reading and writing practices by pretending to read books, or newspapers, or by writing letters or making grocery lists. They begin exploring the world of reading and writing based on the reading and writing they see you do. As students grow older and start to receive more formal reading and writing instruction at school, they continue to benefit from observing the reading and writing habits of their parents. Both parents and teachers can incorporate personal reading and writing experiences into literacy lessons for children. If we, as teachers and parents are aware and reflective of our own reading and writing habits and attitudes, we can encourage our students to seek out that same reflectiveness. Here are a few ways you can use your literacy experiences to help encourage your child’s learning:
- Schedule times throughout the week when the family can sit down and write about anything- journals, stories, or other ideas that interest the writer. Then, designate a time for writers to share something that they’ve written.
- Compose stories, letters, or articles together as a family (Fletcher, 2001).
- Reflect on your own writing with your child. Point out things that you thought were good, as well as areas within the writing that could be improved. Encourage them to do the same with their writing.
- Read and discuss books together. Write letters to the characters or to the author. Brainstorm and write alternative endings for stories that you have read.
Regardless of the kind of writing and reading you choose to share with your child, remember to take time to reflect. Think about what was read or written, but also reflect on your own habits and attitudes toward reading and writing. Encouraging your child to be reflective empowers children to become better readers and writers (Fountas & Pinnell, 2001).