Everyday Literacy Experiences: Talking, Listening, Reading and Writing

    The people we encounter, the places we go, the things we do and the experiences we have — all impact our lives. Children’s lives need to be filled with literacy experiences if they are to become successful readers and writers.

    The more words children hear, the more words they recognize and understand as they read. Learning vocabulary helps children become better readers. Talk to your child — anytime, anywhere, during any activity. Have conversations during mealtimes and throughout the day. Talk about something you did today and ask your child to tell you something about her day.

    Learning to listen helps children listen to learn — an important skill for school success.

    Ask your child to close his eyes and identify the sounds he hears as you open and close a window, put food in the cat’s dish, or dial a number on the telephone. Sit in the park or at the playground with your child. Make a list of the sounds you hear and compare them. Did you each hear different things?

    Creating a special reading place in your home shows children that you value reading. Find a quiet well lit spot and make it comfortable with pillows and chairs or sofas just right for cuddling. Your child might want to create her own space with stuffed animals, favorite books and toys. This may be a corner in your family room or a special area in her bedroom where she can go and read.

    Books should be easy to reach and include a wide variety of types and topics. It’s nice for children to own a few of their favorite books for reading again and again, but you can bring home armfuls of books of all kinds from the library. Read with your child every day.

    Introduce your child to a variety of printed material — books, magazines, newspapers, recipes, letters and notes, advertisements, and church bulletins. This helps children understand there are many purposes for reading.

    To become better readers, children also need opportunities to write. And practicing their writing actually helps them become better readers. Keep plenty of writing materials — pens, pencils, markers and materials on which to write — available. Give your children a reason to write. “Let’s thank Grandma for your birthday present. What are some things you would like to tell her?” “Let’s send Tommy a birthday card. You can pick it out, write ‘Happy Birthday’ and sign your name.” “Would you write Dad a note telling him we have gone to the store and will be right back?”

    Manipulating sounds in words — listening to and creating rhymes, making up nonsense words and playing word games — improves children’s reading, comprehension, spelling and writing. Invent some rhymes. "Cows say moo, ghosts say boo, I love you and your brother, too." Talk about what makes words rhyme — the ending "parts" of the words sound the same.

    Talking, listening, reading, writing and playing with language are easy skills to practice with your child. And it’s fun, so your child won’t even know he’s practicing!

    Written by the National Center for Family