We’ve had a long year, with many (if not most) of us doing some amount of schooling from home. We’ve been more involved than ever in our kids’ education. Sometimes, that just meant trying to keep them busy enough with fun, educational activities so that we can keep up with work, too.
Now summer is here, and though our kids’ learning won’t be as structured, we still need to do our part to help keep up their literacy. Let’s talk about why family involvement is an essential component of children’s literacy development – not just right now, but always.
The importance of parental involvement in education
Family involvement is one of the most important factors for a student’s academic success. One study found that family involvement improves child literacy, regardless of family situation, income, and parents’ level of education. It allows students to keep up with their classmates instead of falling behind, which tends to be a problem for children from underserved communities. It also increases children’s positive feelings about literacy. In short, parents or caregivers who show an interest in their child’s learning success effectively set them up for it.
Unfortunately, there are many barriers to parents’ engagement in a child’s schooling. One of these is lack of time. More and more families require the incomes of two parents to get by. There are also increasing numbers of single parents raising children – and often, they need to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. While many parents want to participate in their child’s learning process, they simply don’t have the time to.
Other barriers can be cultural, a lack of support or resources, or even parents simply not knowing what to do or how to help their kids. While we can’t solve all of these problems at once, we can offer a few tips to help boost your child’s literacy.
Read together every day
Most of us have heard this one. But it may not always go without saying, so just in case, let’s review why this is so important. Setting aside time every day to read with your child can inspire a love of reading in them. Many families choose to do this with a nightly bedtime story.
You can take a few approaches to make this reading time together even more effective at helping your child understand language and eventually learn to read.
Before beginning a book, read the title, look at the pictures, and ask your child to make some predictions on what this story might be about. What do they think will happen? You might even take a “picture walk” through the pages before reading to try and guess what events will unfold in this book. As you read, you could also ask them to make predictions about what will happen next.
Point to the words
This is a key way to help your child make the connection that those symbols on the page are the words you’re speaking. Eventually, they might start to recognize certain letters or words you come across.
Build comprehension by asking questions
After reading, ask your child questions about what happened. Help them find ways to apply the story to their life, such as “Have you ever felt that way before?” or “Have you ever experienced something like the character in this book did?”
Write for your child
Before your child learns to write, they need to grasp the concept of what writing is. We don’t just read words from a book – we can also create our own story with our words! Help them create a story by having them dictate to you as you write it down.
There are plenty of ways to make writing fun for your child. You could go all out and put together a book out of your child’s writings. Have them color the pictures, you write the words, and then staple it all together. They will be thrilled to have their own “published” work to show off to people.
Review alphabet letters AND sounds
Most parents have sung the ABCs with their kids hundreds, if not thousands, of times. But be sure you’re not just covering the names of the letters, but the sounds they make, too. This is a critical building block for reading. It helps children learn that all these sounds come together to make words. Eventually, they’ll learn to sound out the words themselves.
Stay engaged in your child’s education. It truly will set them up for academic success. Before you know it, you’ll be helping them apply for scholarships and prepare for college and career. So cherish this time now when you can be so involved in their learning process. You’ll be glad you did.
AUTHOR BIO: Tiffany Park is an education, health, and communications writer for InfoBloom with a passion for improving educational experiences for herself and others. Having studied communications and early childhood education, she loves sharing ideas to help students, parents, and families thrive. She enjoys learning new things, seeing different perspectives, and seeking fun adventures with her husband and toddling daughter.