By Wendy Zachrisen, Wendy Z’s Hands on Learning
Published: August 11, 2009
The Children’s Book Review presents a guest post by Wendy Zachrisen (aka WendyZ). She wears many hats—teacher, education trainer, and mom! She is an advocate for multisensory learning methods. Her blog posts, training workshops, and consulting services focus on practical, hands-on teaching and learning for elementary and preschool children. Wendy is currently an education specialist at Learning Resources, a manufacturer of award-winning classroom materials and educational toys.
Did you know researches have linked early literacy with high school graduation rates? Here are 10 simple ways to invest in your child’s future by jump-starting their literacy potential:
1. Consider pretend play your child’s job! Role play fosters language development, a precursor to becoming a successful reader. Encourage kids to play house, school, store, dolls, cars, or doctor. Their imagination is the only limit!
2. Talk, talk, talk, and listen. Silence is NOT golden! Help your kids develop key language skills by getting them to describe objects, their feelings, and more. Show you’re interested in what they have to say to build their confidence and model how to focus attention and be a good listener.
3. Give baby talk the boot. Don’t “dumb down” things when you talk to your kids. They can handle tough vocabulary. Case in point: when kids talk about dinosaurs, they have no problem using terms such as tyrannosaurus rex, brontosaurus or triceratops!
4. Sing a ling, and chime a rhyme together. Belt out your favorite songs, chant nursery rhymes, or make silly animal sounds. Create goofy lyrics, smooth jazz scats, or cool hip hop tunes. Add fun dance moves to boost the learning—seriously, research supports a connection between movement and cognition!
5. Show ‘em you read. Let your child see you read on your own frequently, and it really doesn’t matter what you read—magazines, newspapers, online articles, or even the TV Guide!
6. Decorate your house with words! Hang posters in your child’s room, frame a poem for the hall, place a wooden cutout of the word family on the mantle—whatever. Exposing kids to lots of print in their environment is beneficial.
7. Let ’em scribble. Pretend writing develops fine motor skills and helps kids understand a basic concept—that they can convey messages with written marks. If scribbling is a struggle, have kids use their fingers to practice “writing” in sand or finger paint. Teach them to recognize letter shapes by name; show your child a page with only a few words and have her point out a specific letter.
8. Teach every letter individually. Learning the alphabet isn’t just singing the Alphabet Song. While that song’s great, kids should start learning the sound(s) each letter makes, too. Chant the vowel sounds together, or pick a letter of the day and go around the house naming objects that start with that one letter.
9. Read to your child regularly. Remember that you don’t have to only read books. You can even read aloud everyday non-fiction like postcards, catalogs, cookbooks, and cereal boxes.
10. Do some Q & A. Before reading aloud, peak through the book with your child and talk about the pictures. Have him try to predict what will happen. While reading, stop and ask your child questions about the story. At the end, ask about his favorite part, why he liked the book, and how he’d describe it to a friend. Predicting and summarizing are critical thinking skills!
Looking for great educational toys and classroom materials to help improve children’s literacy? Visit www.LearningResources.com