Supporting Your Child's Literacy Skills Development
- Read 15-20 minutes each night with your child right up until at least the end of Grade 4
- Have your child help you read signs, notices, etc. in your daily life
- For children who are not reading fluently yet: play pre-reading skill games, memory games, and math games while shopping, or in the car, or while you make supper.
- Practice English sight words with your children.
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- Show your child the flashcard. They need to say the word immediately.
- If the child hesitates or starts sounding it out, say the word yourself and immediately move on to the next flashcard.
- Keep working at them and reviewing them until your child can say the word right when you hold up the card.
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Activities for Parents to Help Children Develop Literacy Skills
Activities that foster phonological awareness
- Sing songs, recite nursery rhymes and poems, engage in language and rhyming games that draw attention to language and sounds.
- Draw attention to letter sounds – use everyday activities to talk about letters and their sounds. (Milk begins with the letter m. M makes the mmmmm sound)
- Read books that focus on sounds and rhymes (e.g. In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming).
- Lay out groupings of pictures that feature similar sounding words (e.g. house and mouse, ball and bell) and, in a quiet place, encourage children to find the picture of one of the items (Can you find the bell?).
Activities that foster vocabulary and language development
- Have regular (more than once a week), detailed, informative conversations with children. For example, during bath time ask, “What do you think happens to water when it goes down the drain?” Ask other exploratory questions in the car, while eating or reading.
- Teach children new words on a regular basis.
- Use labelling games with infants and toddlers – “Where are your ears?” or “The cat is on the couch.”
- Comment on children’s surroundings, particularly when in a new environment. Talk about children’s experiences before, during and after a new activity.
- Encourage children to talk about their favourite books – get them to “read” it to you, or have them comment on their favourite part.
- Respond back to encourage continued conversation.
Activities that foster understanding of narrative structure
- Read to children frequently and in different situations – bedtime, on the bus, in the bookstore, waiting in line at the bank, as a break during clean-up.
- Encourage children to pretend to read (e.g. give them a picture book and have them tell you the story) and encourage turn-taking with books children are familiar with.
- Take time for oral storytelling and pretend storytelling using puppets or dolls.
Activities that foster book awareness and interest
- Provide access to a variety of high-quality books, including alphabet books, picture books and books with rhyming; ensure books are age-appropriate (e.g. board or cloth books for babies).
- Make regular visits to a library or bookstore (at least once every two months). Expose children to different kinds of books – storybooks, non-fiction books (e.g. about trucks, nature, dinosaurs), and poetry.
- Read to your child frequently (at least four times per week) and create a warm storytime or reading environment. Let children initiate shared reading times, encourage children to take turns reading, allow time for questions.
- Connect visual experiences to books – if a child takes an avid interest in a television program, extend their knowledge by obtaining books on the same or similar topics.
- Allow children to see adults in the home reading every day (books, magazines, online articles).
Activities that foster understanding of print concepts and functions, as well as letter and word recognition
Understanding that print gives us meaningful information, can amuse, comfort and entertain. Understanding that print follows certain conventions, such as spaces between words, is read left to right, top to bottom. Understanding that words are made up of letters.
- Allow children to help with daily activities involving print – write a shopping list, write an appointment in a calendar, choose items from a take-out menu. Explain the purpose of these activities.
- Explain and show how print works – read the title and author of a book before reading, follow the print with your fingers as you read.
- Point out conventions of print when reading (e.g. if a child interrupts while reading, explain that you will answer when you finish the sentence and point to the period when you get there. Say what it means, then allow time to answer the original question).
- Provide access to games that encourage alphabet knowledge and reading, such as magnetized alphabet, computer reading games (Reader Rabbit);
- Encourage children to learn the first letter of their name and help them find it in printed materials they encounter (signs, mail, etc.).
- Teach children alphabet songs.
- Write a child’s name often – include it on their art work, label the door to their room, or their favourite toy.
- As they get older, write labels for common words and place them on the item.
Activities that foster comprehension
- Ask questions during shared activities such as reading, watching television or playing computer games that help children think about vocabulary, plot, or character.
- Tell a story or listen to an audio recording of a book, then ask children to draw a picture of their favourite part of the story and have a conversation about it.
Activities for Parents to Help Children with Math
Helping young children with math
- Sing number rhymes and songs such as:
- 'One, two, buckle my shoe'
- 'One two three four five, once I caught a fish alive'
- 'Ten green bottles'
- 'There were 10 in the bed'
- Talk about:
- How many knives and forks you will need to set the table
- How many people are in the queue at the supermarket check-out
- Which glass will hold the most orange juice
- Play games like Snakes and Ladders that involve taking turns and using a dice and counters to move around a board
- Look for numbers in books, on posters, in comics, on buses, cars and road signs
- Talk about the shapes of things
- Do jigsaws
Helping older children with math
- Talk about any math work that they bring home from school
- Ask them to help you when you are doing things with money, or measuring or weighing
- Help them to learn their multiplication tables:
- 7 year olds should know the 2 and 10 times table
- 8 year olds should know the 5 times table
- 9 year olds should know all their tables to 10 x 10
- Tell the time
- Use magazines to find out when a TV program is on and set the video recorder
- Look at the price of things in catalogues and work out if you can afford them
- Weigh ingredients when you are cooking
- Put pattern pieces together when making clothes
- Measure floors for carpets, walls for wallpaper and paint
Helpful Websites for Parents