Last week was the start to our latest 10-week session of Learn Together, Grow Together. The program is for parents and caregivers and their children ages 3 to 6 years old. While the adults learn about their children’s early learning, and how to support literacy development and success in school, it is also a good opportunity for the parents to brush up on their own literacy skills and connect with other parents of preschool children.
We begin each session with stories and singing, followed by gym time. Afterwards, we split the children and parents into separate learning groups, and finally, we bring them back together for fun parent-child learning activities.
During parent time for the next few weeks, we will explore “emergent literacy.” Emergent literacy is “the knowledge children have about reading and writing before they can actually read and write.”(http://www.kidsability.ca/en/LiteracyHandouts) We will encourage parents in their role as emergent literacy teachers for their own children.
How does a child gain this knowledge about reading and writing? What are some strategies parents can use to foster emergent literacy in their child?
Here are a few ideas to try together with your family:
- Talk with your child. Your child will learn so much from positive language interactions with you.
- Talk about what you see in a picture book, while at the grocery store, at the park, etc.
- Explain to your child what you are doing, while you are doing it. For example, if you make cookies, talk about the different ingredients and what steps you have to take, or if you are paying bills, use the time to talk to your child about money and numbers.
- Play card and board games together. Turn off the electronic devices and have fun playing a game where there is opportunity to speak with each other.
- Sing and rhyme with your child. Sing songs and rhymes together as they provide opportunities to bond with your child as well as expand their vocabulary. You can always make up your own songs and rhymes too – your child will enjoy hearing your voice either way.
- Visit your local library and take advantage of their book lending services.
- Follow you child’s lead in their interests. For example, if they have an interest in animals, share books about animals, sing songs and rhymes about animals, and play games about animals. If you can, take a trip to a pet store, a farm, or a zoo; take the time to talk about everything you see and experience together.
- Model positive literacy behaviours to your child. If your child sees your enjoyment of reading the newspaper, writing a shopping list, talking about the road signs you see, etc., they will think of these literacy activities as positive experiences.
Parents have such an important role in cultivating the knowledge of reading and writing in their child, even before they are actually about to read and write. There are so many opportunities to promote emergent literacy in a small child, simply by intentionally interacting with them and involving them in what you are already doing!