For better or worse the foundations for learning have always been in the home and with the family. Everyday activities and outings provide rich and authentic context for learning and reinforcing important literacy skills.
This article is list easy ways that you can enhance your child's literacy skills without going out of your way. Without even trying you can help your child to read, write, speak and listen by involving them in simple activities such as reading rhymes, singing songs, storytelling and drawing.
Enhance imagination by providing a dress up box and junk creation box for imaginative play. Even just playing with favourite toys and creating characters with puppets can extend childrens' language. Create stories from these materials and write down the stories to read back.
Other everyday family activities such as cooking, sorting family photos, making shopping lists, writing greeting cards, reading maps, emails, text messages, signs, number plates, websites and visiting the library can all be part of improving children's literacy. Discuss TV shows and DVDs with children.
One of the most important things you can do is to read to your child at every opportunity, for example, catalogues, magazines, picture storybooks and non-fiction books. Reading a child's favourite stories over and over again will help consolidate the rhyme and rhythm of language. As children begin to remember their favourite stories they may wish to read them to you. Every attempt is one that you can reward, encouraging more reading, speaking and listening.
Daily reading should be fun and can involve predictions before you start the book or turn the page. Encourage and respond to children's questions. Ask questions that require more than just recalling the storyline, for example, 'Why do you think the character did that'?
Give children the language to talk about books. For example, teach them the name of the writers (author) the illustrator and about parts the book, for example, the front cover, the contents, the title and the spine.
Other great family activities that involve reading and writing include writing or blogging family holiday experiences, doing crosswords, playing card games, quizzes, brainteasers and reading instructions for new household purchases.
In addition, social networking and ICT are becoming increasingly popular for children with opportunities to improve reading and writing. There are many educational apps available.
Most importantly improving reading, writing, speaking and listening skills can be easily integrated into everyday family events. Learning can and should be fun. Click here for free educational iPad apps.