Great news: you play a critical role in your child’s emerging literacy starting in infant through school-age years!
You do this by:
- Reading with your child
- Creating opportunities for verbal interactions by playing patty cake together or encouraging a deep conversation about why a character in a book did something
- Placing important value on literacy in your home
- Providing fun and meaningful experiences with books, magazines and newspapers
These kinds of literacy opportunities not only develop listening, oral language, writing and reading skills, but also cultivate social-emotional growth. When you read a book to your child about emotions or that demonstrate interactions between characters that result in feelings being expressed, you are supporting your child’s social-emotional growth. Your facial expressions and intonation create a visual and auditory connection to the emotions being represented in the story.
Here are three ways to have fun encouraging your child’s learning while doing day-to-day activities:
- Around a Meal Time
Whether you are making a meal, eating one or cleaning up after one, these are great times to foster literacy skills and social-emotional development. For example, read a recipe and make a meal with your child. As your child turns the pages or helps mix ingredients in a bowl, talk about taking turns and following directions.
- Lessons While Doing Chores or Running Errands
Whether you are walking, riding on the bus or train, or riding together in a car, sing songs, tell stories, read a book or listen to an audio recording of a book. Make up stories about people, animals, signs, symbols or any other objects you see along your journey. Ask questions like, “How do you think the people walking will feel if it starts snowing/raining/hailing hamburgers?” or “Let’s make up a story about where the people on the train are going today.”
- Make a Family Book Together
Young children love to hear stories about you as a child, or about what happened the day they were born, or about other relatives. Get together to make a photo album, scrapbook, or book about any family event. Infants can watch you create, and listen to your stories. What a fun way for older children to build memories and develop family connections. As a bonus, they’ll also be practicing sorting, measuring, and oral language skills such as asking questions using memory and critical thinking skills.