ERIC Identifier: ED365979
Publication Date: 1994-00-00
Author: Macfarlane, Eleanor C.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse
on Reading English and Communication Bloomington IN.
Children's Literacy Development: Suggestions for Parent
Involvement. ERIC Digest.
Parents are a child's first and most influential teachers! But how do you as
a parent go about finding the information you need to do a good job at such an
important task? Which organizations will be the most helpful? What resources are
available to help you fulfill this important responsibility? Here is a quick
digest of ideas and resources to get you started.
VISIT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY
First of all, your local public
library is one of your best--and least expensive--resources. Libraries, even
small ones, have shelves of books for parents and children. Consult a librarian
if you do not find the materials you're looking for, or aren't sure what's
available. The librarian may be willing to order some of the resources listed in
this Digest or tell you how to obtain them through inter-library loan. Your
school library and nearby college library are other possible sources of
READING ALOUD AND MODELING READING
Reading aloud to your
children, and letting them see you reading, are two of the best ways to help
them on the road to literacy. It's never too early to start! Two particularly
useful books, which have been popular for many years and are probably available
in your local library, are "The New Read-Aloud Handbook," by Jim Trelease (2nd
rev. ed., 1989, Penguin Books) and "A Parent's Guide to Children's Reading," by
Nancy Larrick (5th ed., 1982, Bantam Books).
As Barbara Bush wrote recently, "Above all, children love to be read to. It
is a special time for them to be close to the grown-ups who care for them, and a
wonderful way to feel loved." (Bush, 1993)
Many books for both children and adults are available in a "read-along"
format using audio cassettes. These are often available in your public library
and may be especially useful in the car or when you and your child would like to
listen together to a tape while following along in the book.
PLAYING WITH YOUR CHILDREN
Small children generally learn
best while playing, rather than by being "instructed." Knowing this, you can
involve your child in lots of day-to-day activities and conversations that will
help develop her/his literacy. You can talk to the child while playing, about
whatever is of interest to you both. Nursery rhymes and songs are fun to learn
and say or sing together.
Ordinary daily activities can also be an occasion for learning. For example,
recognizing commercial signs and logos while out walking or driving is one of
the first steps in learning to read. A simple trip to the grocery store is more
fun if you talk with your child about the things you're seeing and doing when
he's little, about colors and shapes; later on, about the many places from which
grocery items come; when he's older, about box sizes and unit costs and the
nutritional value of items in the store.
LISTENING TO YOUR CHILDREN READ
Once a child learns to
read, she needs lots of practice. The more the better! The old saying about "practice makes perfect" applies to reading as well as to most other activities.
If a child has frequent opportunities to read aloud to a willing listener--often
a parent or grand-parent or a sibling--she is more likely to become a fluent
reader. Most children enjoy reading every other page with an adult--you read the
first page, she reads the second, and so forth. With an older child, you might
each read a chapter.
You may want to help your child get "over the hump" of starting a new book by
offering to read the first few chapters aloud at bedtime (or alternate pages
with your child). When you finish, you may hear, "Do you mind if I read the next
chapter by myself before I go to sleep?" and you will know you have succeeded in
HAVING BOOK CONVERSATIONS WITH YOUR CHILD
Sharing may take
place in many ways--book conversations, journals, drawing, and improvisational
drama. Participants in the Parents Sharing Books program developed by the Family
Literacy Center at Indiana University program have found that the amount of
reading by children in the program increases markedly. They also report, as an
added benefit, a dramatic improvement in family communication. Parents may be
interested in a book describing this program. The book is called "Connect! How
to Get Your Kids to Talk to You." It is available from the Family Literacy
Center for $14.95.
HELPING YOUR CHILDREN WRITE
With a little encouragement,
your children's reading and writing development will proceed on parallel tracks.
Even a very young child who sees the adults in her life writing letters and
grocery lists and telephone messages will want to try writing also (Baghban,
1989). At first, to an adult, the efforts look like scribbles, but before long
your child will be trying to communicate with pictures and words. Encourage her
efforts. Before long, sending letters and stories to grandparents or to some
other relative can be a reason for writing.
MATERIALS FOR PARENTS--A SAMPLING
Starting Your Child on a Lifetime of Learning. The First Five Years," 1992. 21
pp. National Association of Elementary School Principals, Alexandria, VA.
Booklet for new parents, with separate sections focusing on specific activities
that contribute to early childhood development and well-being at various stages
in the child's life. Available from: World Book Educational Products, Station
14/Digest, 101 Northwest Point Boulevard, Elk Grove Village, IL 60007-1019.
(Single copy free with self-addressed, stamped business-size envelope or call
1-800-621-8202 and mention this Digest.)
"The Little Things Make a Big Difference: How to Help Your Children Succeed
in School," 1991. 19 pp. National Association of Elementary School Principals,
Alexandria, VA. Booklet for parents of school-aged children with tips for
supporting their children's learning and development and for undertaking family
activities that can help children succeed in school. Available from: World Book
Educational Products, Station 14/Digest, 101 Northwest Point Boulevard, Elk
Grove Village, IL 60007-1019. (Single copy free with self-addressed, stamped
business-size envelope) or call 1-800-621-8202 and mention this Digest.) A
companion videotape is available from NAESP (1615 Duke St., Alexandria, VA
22314-3483) $19.95 + $2.50 shipping.)
"Let's Educate Together." The Road to Literacy Series: Book One for African
American Parents with Children. "A Black Parent's Guide to Laying the Foundation
for their Children's Educational Success," by Sheila Venson, 1990. 31 pp.
Alternative School Network, Chicago, IL. This booklet provides suggestions to
African-American parents who want to provide their children with a firm
foundation for educational success. Available from the ERIC Document
Reproduction Service, MF01/PC02 plus postage. Call 1-800-443-ERIC to order. [ED
"Queridos Padres: En Los Estados Unidos...La Escuela es Nuestra Tambien," by
Siobhan Nicolau and Carmen Lydia Ramos, 1990. 25 pp. [English version: "Dear
Parents: In the United States...It's Our School Too," 1990, 25pp.] Available
from: Hispanic Policy Development Project, Inc., New York, NY, $ .25/copy. Ask
for a list of other publications in Spanish and English.
The Family Literacy Center and the ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, English,
and Communication, both located at Indiana University, 2805 E. 10th Street,
suite 150, Bloomington, IN 47408 (1-800-759-4723) can provide more information
about free and inexpensive materials for parents. You may also wish to contact
the ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education, University
of Illinois, 805 West Pennsylvania Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801-4897
Baghban, Marcia (1989). "You Can Help Your Child
with Writing." Newark, DE: International Reading Association ($1.75 a copy).
Also available from the ERIC/REC Clearinghouse. [ED 302 846]
Baghban, Marcia (1990). "Ayude a Su Nino con la Escritura." Newark, DE:
International Reading Association ($1.75 a copy). [ED 318 019]
Bush, Barbara (1993). In "USA Today" (Opinion USA page), November 9, 1993.
Paulu, Nancy and Greene, Wilma P., Eds. (1992). "Helping Your Child Get Ready
for School, with Activities for Children from Birth through Age 5." Washington,
D.C.: Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of
Education. ($3.25 a copy.) [ED 352 158]