Create a Literacy Rich Home–1


(5/19/09 Note: This is a first draft of what I hope will be a longer article.)

In a literacy-rich household, both WORDS and the big WORLD itself are enjoyed by everyone.

Grown-ups and kids in a literacy-rich home know that life is about learning, thinking, sharing, and expanding their skills and interests. For the truth is, literacy is about books AND a whole lot more.

Here are five things to emphasize if you want to create that kind of home-life:
1)    Talking and listening
2)    Reading and watching
3)    Writing and drawing
4)    Creating and investigating
5)    Enjoying and appreciating

This blog entry is about #1.

TALKING and LISTENING—Here’s my best advice:

Talk to kids from birth on. Chatter up a storm.  (For example, even with a tiny baby, you can endlessly say things like, “You are a beautiful and healthy baby. I’m really enjoying watching you grow, and change, and learn!”)

Talk about processes, the order in which to do something, and how things work. (For example, for an infant, you can say, “Your body is working just the way it is supposed to. We take food in—you drink your bottle—and then our bodies take what they need to help us grow—and what’s not needed is pushed out as poop! Good work, body!”)

Name the feelings. When an emotion comes up, say the word for it. (Again, even with a very young child, try, “You sound like you’re angry that something’s hurting inside. I’m going to see what I can do to help you feel more comfortable.”)

Share your observations, even of the little things. (For example, “I just noticed what beautiful colors that rose has. It’s got bright yellow, then gold, and a little bit of white.”)

Use big words (and provide simple explanations if you get a “Huh?”).

Express positive attitudes, like these:
We can learn from every experience, especially mistakes. I love you regardless. Let’s say what we’re grateful for. Let’s use our time wisely. Let’s plan ahead. It’s important to take good care of yourself.

Answer questions. They mean your child is learning to learn. What a great thing to support, even if it takes a little extra time. If you don’t know an answer, that’s fine. See if you and the child together can get an answer.

Play with words and sounds.
Make up rhymes and raps. Say tongue twisters.

Tell stories. About your childhood. About your day. Great stories from books. About animals.

Listen with interest: (“I want to hear what you have to say.” “Tell me more…”)

Listen with questions: (“Why do you think…” is a good one to ask.)

Listen with follow-up:
(“I was thinking about what you said yesterday…”)

Listen and check if you understood:
(“What I heard you say was… Is that what you meant?”

Listen with an open heart: (Sometimes kids don’t need an answer, they just want to state what’s true for them. You don’t have to agree or advise. Just listen.)

Dear reader, what other advice would you add to this list?

Categories : Inside the House

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