Raising a Truly Literate Reader: Tips for Parents and Teachers
by Erin Klein, Guest Columnist
If you search online for the definition of the word literacy, you will find many different variations. Some sources define literacy as the ability to use basic sources of reading, such as street signs and warning labels. Other sources define it as the simple ability to read and write.
These are very loose definitions. I find it very difficult to qualify a reader as literate if they are merely able to avoid crashing a car or drinking poison. There is a large burden placed on schools to bring our young readers along, but the most important person in the relationship between a child and reading is the parent. As parents, we influence all decisions that our little ones make, and it is very important to recognize our role in the minds of a young reader.
The first thing we have to do is recognize that our children are sponges. Think about it, we run them around to dance and soccer practice at young ages, and they learn skills. Take them to a swimming class at a young age and you’ll find the first thing they do is toss them in the water and make them kick and blow bubbles. There isn’t an instruction manual for it.
Has anybody every watched a child play a video game? They learn very quickly. But somehow as parents, we make reading more difficult than it is. Helping a child learn to read is actually much easier than it sounds. There are many things you can do in order to help a reader. The best thing about it is… there is no real structure. You don’t have to keep a practice schedule like soccer. You don’t need to get in a car during the dead of winter and drive to dance. You can do it at home. You can do it right now.
A few small steps and you will have provided an environment in which your children are engaged and interested in reading.
These are just a few tips that I use in my home. There are a million out there. But the most important tip of all is you as the parent have to be engaged and attack reading. Don’t sit back and wait for your school to teach your child to read.
The best way you’re going to get your little one to get ahead in this world is to get in the driver’s seat early. If your 3rd grader is reading at a first grade level, of course they will receive more help in reading, but that could take away time from other subjects. The real advancing comes from the reading done at home.
The more you practice, the better you get; you are your child’s first coach.
About the Author
Erin Klein is a second grade teacher in Michigan and author of the award winning edu tech blog, Kleinspiration. She is also a certified SMART Board Trainer and SMART Exemplary Educator. Erin serves as the Michigan Reading Association’s co-technology chairperson and is a member of The National Writing Project.