“Whether or not students’ families are involved at schools in traditional ways, they remain influential and often innovative teachers in many facets of their children’s lives.” ( Waldbart, Meyers, and Meyers 2006, p. 774)
Many routines that you as families follow at home involve literacy-related activities. Below are examples of day-to-day activities where children could have incidental experiences that support literacy development.
- Travelling in the car or using public transport
The environments through which the family travels when using cars or public transport are filled with opportunities for children to learn about print. For instance you can draw your children’s attention to traffic signs, street signs, signs at the bus stop, signs on the bus, billboards and signs on buildings along the street.
During car trips, you can also keep children amused by singing songs and chanting rhymes.
- Watching Television
You can draw your children’s attention to the print that appears on the screen during programmes. Watching children’s programmes with your child will also provide you with opportunities to talk about the characters in the programme.
Young children can produce a variety of written forms- like greeting cards, birthday cards, short notes and stories – which are usually a combination of letter forms and drawings. You can encourage your children to read what they have written and then, you can record the story in conventional print.
- Creating family alphabet books
Family photographs can be used to make an alphabet book. Together with your children choose photos that correspond to alphabet letters (If your child’s first language is Maltese make sure that his/her alphabet book is in Maltese. Then as the child acquires English you can introduce an alphabet book in English). For instance pictures of individual family members can be put on the page showing the initial letter in that person’s name -Example: R- Romina; P-Papa’
- Exposing children to their own names
The most important word to your children is their own first name. Research has shown that children are generally able to write and spell their own names before other words (Levin, Both-de Vries, Aram, & Bus, 2005), and they often show a preference for including (often erroneously ) letters from their own name when writing other words (Bloodgood, 1999; Both-de Vries & Bus, 2008; Treiman, Kessler, & Bourassa, 2001).
There are lots of ways in which you can use your children’s names to get them interested in reading and writing:
-Write your children’s names everywhere (on stationery; satchels; bibs, T-shirts, scarves and key-chains);
-Make a name card for your childrenʼs bedroom door;
-Sing songs and play games that include children’s names.
-Plan activities that incorporate names, such as making letters with play dough, blocks and painting letter shapes.
- Sharing books and talking to children
Children like to communicate. They are born sociable and come into the world with a willingness to communicate and learn. The experiences that they are exposed to in their early years shape their communication and learning skills.
Storytelling and the reading of books are an easy and fun way to have regular, additional talking time with your child.
Storytelling introduces structure and language patterns that help form the building blocks for reading and writing skills. Reading aloud combines the benefits of talking, listening and storytelling within a single activity and gets you talking regularly to young children. Reading to your children on a daily basis gives them the best start in life. It is never too early to start reading to your child.