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Did you know having conversations with children on a regular basis and using rich vocabulary predicts the oral skills they’ll have by 1st and 2nd grade? A child’s level of literacy in 1st grade is a very strong indicator of what their level will be in 4th grade -----and beyond.

What does this mean?

It means that you have simple tools at your fingertips to increase your child’s language skills, which directly influences their literacy.

And it’s fun!

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See below for fun ways to increase a child's literacy!

Conversations at Mealtimes
Songs
Reading or Storytelling
Visit Your Local Library

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 Conversation at Mealtimes:

“Mealtime is often a young child's best opportunity to engage in
interesting conversations with adults.”

Catherine Snow, professor at Harvard's Graduate School of Education.

During breakfast, lunch or dinner encourage your child to talk about their day.
You can start by sharing first. If you talk about your work day, they’ll learn the unique vocabulary words associated with your job. If you are preparing dinner, talk about the process of cooking while you are preparing. They’ll learn new words like grater or sifter!

Children who talk about their day also get a chance to ‘narrate’ their adventures in interesting ways. Not only is this entertaining, but research shows a strong connection between early reading success and children who are able to have conversations beyond the ‘here and now.’ That is, they talk vividly about other times and places, such as talking about their trip to the zoo. (Snow, Dickinson 1987).

Mealtime conversations are special because they are with family or friends,
thus more meaningful and personal. Children share and absorb much more
during these moments.

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Songs

Songs are a fun way for young children to learn new words and language skills…
the rhythm and music will hone these skills with a tune!

Try making up a song about something you see while you are driving or doing an everyday activity. Ask your child to make one up too! Put in funny sounds that make
it silly and keep their attention. You can use a familiar tune and just change the words:

 

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Twinkle, twinkle little star,

It’s so much fun to drive our car (honk honk!).

Up above I see a light, it is red and what a sight!”

You can also play a CD or podcast of favorite children’s songs (with words) and encourage your child to sing along. Or, a grandparent can teach them a special song.

 

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Reading or Storytelling


“It’s not just reading the words, but having interesting conversations about the book that helps children build stronger oral-language skills."
Patton Tabors, research coordinator. Language-Rich Home and School Environments Are Key to Reading Success

We all know reading to children increases their reading skills. But did you know that it is just as important to talk about the book or story afterwards?

If you are reading to a child, create a warm, personal experience by having them sit on your lap or sit next to them in a comfy chair. Perhaps have a ritual item they wear when it’s story time, like their favorite fuzzy slippers. Invite them into the world of the story by reading with a rich tone or dramatic flair. You can use different voices for the characters… or they can chime in and try it!

Storytelling without a book can also be very effective. Share a folktale or a story of one of your parents or ancestors. Put your child in the tale! Have an older sibling or grandparent tell them a story, passing down the history and oral traditions of your family.

 

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After the story spend a few minutes talking about the story.
Ask open ended questions that encourage thought and conversation, such as:

"Why do you think the unicorn wanted to be like the other animals?"

You can create a craft or have your child draw pictures about the story. Kids will remember and enjoy stories more if they can connect to them personally!

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Visit Your Local Library

Besides finding wonderful children’s books, libraries are great places to find quality
family programs and events for free
Many libraries have story times or guest storytellers that can peak your child’s interest in stories and books.  After attending a program, ask your child how they enjoyed the experience or to tell the story they heard.
This increases their speaking skills, imagination and social confidence.
And of course the enjoyment of re-telling a tale!

Call your local library or visit their website to find out about their special story or literacy events.  If transportation or time is a factor, try carpooling or taking turns attending them with your friends who also have kids.

At the library, you just might find a book or two that you like too!

 

 

Parents: Remember… YOU are a key to your child’s literacy!

 

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