Families play a critical role in helping promote early-literacy—which is the ability to both read and write. Rich and frequent early-literacy experiences at home set young children on a positive trajectory towards becoming fluent readers—after all, literacy is the foundation for academic success and is vital for a child’s overall development. 

There are a host of early-literacy activities that families can promote at home to develop young children into fluent readers, and such activities can be seamlessly woven into a child’s day to promote their literacy development. Bath time, mealtime, and while running errands are moments to capitalize on in only a few minutes a day. Most importantly, it’s never too early to engage children in early-literacy activities—even babies enjoy songs and rhyme! 

Activities like singing, reading, storytelling, talking, drawing, and writing help to develop a child’s literacy skills. Looking for words in the environment [on billboards, signs and supermarket items, for instance], and encouraging school-aged children to attempt to write words supports early-literacy development. For our youngest children, nursery rhymes, sound games, playing “I Spy,” and books containing rhythm, repetition and rhyme provide rich early-literacy experiences that are vital for language development.

One doesn’t need to devote a lot of time to literacy activities to make a difference in a child’s development. Reading a few minutes each day develops their vocabulary, helps builds receptive and expressive language, and enhances a child’s ability to connect sounds with words—not to mention helping them learn about the world around them.

When reading together, encourage your child to turn the pages and to talk about what they see in the illustrations—successfully interpreting illustrations and photos is important and further develops their critical thinking, and language acquisition. 

Using your finger to guide a child’s eyes from left to right as they track the print and pointing out certain words or target vocabulary words and their definitions helps build a robust vocabulary. There is a strong correlation between a child’s comprehension and the number of words they know; therefore, building a robust vocabulary is vitally important.

Lastly, follow your child’s lead with reading. Lovingly and gently encourage their bookworm habits—experimenting with various genres to determine their reading preferences—and just have fun! After all, you’re building memories together that will last a lifetime.

By Chloe Ball, M.Ed, K-3 Reading Specialist