Literacy Bits

Talk with Your Child
Talking with your child and encouraging him or her to talk with you is extremely important. Listening and speaking are a child‟s introduction to language and literacy. Activities such as talking and singing will teach your child the sounds and structures of language, making it easier for him or her to learn to read and write.
Here are some things you can do to help your child build an appreciation for words and language. Tell family stories about yourself, your child‟s grandparents, and other relatives. Encourage your child to tell you about his or her day – about activities, sports, and games. Ask lots of questions so that your child knows you are interested in what he or she is thinking about. Talk with your child as much as possible about things you are doing and thinking. Encourage your child to tell you what he or she thinks and feels. Don‟t interrupt! Let your child find the words he or she wants to use. Sing songs, such as the alphabet song, and recite nursery rhymes, encouraging your child to join in. Play rhyming and riddle games.
(Source: The Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat)

Make Reading and Writing Fun
Reading aloud to your child is the best way to get him or her interested in reading. Not only is it fun for the whole family, but it will also help your child to learn what reading is about. Encourage your child to write also.
Here are some things you can do to help make reading and writing fun for your child. Read all kinds of materials – stories, poems, informational books, magazines, newspaper articles, and comics. Read stories aloud with drama and excitement! Use different voices for different characters in the story. Use your child‟s name instead of a character‟s name. Make puppets and use them to act out the story.

Re-read your child‟s favorite stories as many times as your child wants to hear them, and choose books and authors that your child enjoys. Read stories that have repetitive parts, and encourage your child to join in. Discuss the themes of a story, and ask questions about the characters. Ask questions that make your child think about what might happen next or what he or she might do in the same situation. Discuss the ideas in an informational piece, such as a newspaper article. Encourage your child to write lists and to write cards or send e-mail messages to friends and relatives.

Read Every Day
Children respond well to routine, and reading is something that you and your child can look forward to every day. By taking the time to read and to talk with your child, you are showing that this is important and fun to do.
Try to read with your child as often as possible. It is the most important thing you can do to help him or her learn at school. It will also allow you to spend high-quality time together and to develop a strong and healthy relationship that is built on sharing of ideas.
Here are some ideas: Set aside a special time each day when you can give your full attention to reading with your child. Choose a comfortable spot to read, where you can be close to your child. Create a “reading area” there together. Choose many different books. If your child‟s first language is not English, choose books both in English and in your child‟s first language. A strong basis in a child‟s first language makes it easier for him or her to learn a second or third language. Vary the length of reading time depending on your child‟s age, interests, and grade. For young children, shorter sessions may be better than one long session. Even after your child has learned how to read, keep reading to him or her. By reading stories that will interest your child but are above his or her reading level, you can stretch your child‟s understanding and keep alive the magic of sharing books together.

Talk About Books
Talking about the books you read is just as important as reading them! Talking with your child about a story or other book helps your child understand it and connect it to his or her own experience of life. It also helps enrich your child‟s vocabulary with new words and phrases.
Encourage your child to read informational materials, such as children‟s science magazines or websites. Talk about the materials with your child and ask plenty of questions.
Here are some ways to help your child learn the skills needed for comprehension, reasoning, and critical thinking: Ask your child what he or she would like to read about Read and talk about your own favorite books from childhood. Look at the cover and the title of a storybook with your child, and ask your child what he or she thinks might happen in the story. Encourage your child to ask questions and to make comments on the pictures and the story before, during, and after reading it. Encourage your child to think critically about all books. Does he or she agree or disagree with the author? Why? Is the information accurate or not? Think out loud about a book as you read, and encourage your child to do the same. For example, ask “Does this make sense? Why or why not?” Give your child time to think about the book, and then talk about it with him or her again a few days later.

Listen to Your Child Read
As your child learns to read, it is very important to listen to him or her read aloud. Reading to you will give your child a chance to improve his or her reading skills with practice. By doing this, he or she will build confidence.
As you listen to your child, remember that your reactions are very important. Above all, listen without interrupting. Be enthusiastic and praise your child as often as you can. If possible, be specific with your praise so that your child will know what he or she is doing well. Finally, don‟t forget to encourage your child to read on his or her own.

Here are some tips: Show your child that you are enjoying the book by showing interest and asking some questions. Be patient. Allow your child time to figure out tricky words. After about three seconds, you can help with the word. Show your child how he or she can learn from mistakes. Noticing and correcting mistakes is part of learning to read. Pick a time for reading when there will not be any interruptions. Make sure that your child selects books that aren‟t too difficult. Don‟t worry if your child chooses books that are a little easier than the ones he or she reads at school. On the other hand, if your child chooses a book that is slightly above his or her grade level, praise your child for choosing it and be prepared to help where necessary. Encourage your child to “listen” to his or her own reading. Listening will help him or her to hear mistakes and try to fix them. After reading, talk about the story to make sure that your child understood it.

Set an Example for Your Child
As a parent, you are your child‟s most important role model. Take the time to your child that reading and writing are used in many ways every day. Make sure your child sees you reading and writing for your own purposes. Also, as you do reading and writing activities with your child, introduce new words and phrases to him or her.
Here are some reading and writing activities that you can do with your child: Read recipes, food labels, schedules, maps, instructions, advertisements, flyers, and brochures. Read traffic, store and restaurant signs. Read novels, newspapers, and/pr magazines for enjoyment. Look up information in phone books, cookbooks, manuals, atlases and dictionaries. Write shopping lists, telephone messages, reminder notes, and labels. Write the date and time of appointments and activities on a family calendar. Read and write greeting cards, letters, and e-mail messages.

How Can I Help My Child?
As a parent, you can support your child‟s learning both at home and at school in many ways. Here are some things you can do with your child: Establish with your child a consistent routine for completing homework, including a regular study time and location, and encourage your child to maintain the routine.
Keep in mind that children who read well usually come from homes where parents: Show an interest in reading; Read to their children; Talk with their children about what they are reading, thinking, and doing.

How to Help Your Child Understand What He or She Reads
It is important that your child not only read the words in a text but also understand the meaning of what he or she is reading. You can help your child read with understanding by giving him or her assistance in using various comprehension strategies.
Asking questions: Ask questions such as “Why is this happening?”, “What might happen next?”, or “Does this make sense?” Such questions help children make connection among various parts of a story.
Reading “between the lines”: Your child needs to learn to use information in the story, and from his or her own knowledge and experience, in order to make inferences – that is, to discover meaning that is not stated outright. This strategy of reading “between the lines” involves gathering clues and using them to “create” meaning.
Synthesizing and summarizing: Your child needs to learn to take all the information from his or her reading, summarize the important points, and then put it all together like the pieces of a puzzle.
Using strategies for figuring out difficult words: There are various strategies that your child can use to figure out a word he or she doesn‟t know or a difficult word. Encourage your child to: Divide the word into smaller parts; Make connections between words by letters, sounds, or spelling patterns;

Use known words to solve new words; Reread the words before and after the difficult word; Talk about what he or she has read so far to check understanding

Talk with Your Child
Research shows that listening and speaking to others are the foundation for developing reading and writing skills. Children often need to talk about their ideas before they can put them down on paper effectively.
Here are some ways of encouraging your child to talk with you: Talk with your child frequently about what he or she is reading and writing. Have your child retell the main parts of the text. Ask questions to encourage him or her to provide detail and help organize thoughts. Talk with your child about such things as movies, television programs, songs, and plays. Encourage him or her to express and justify opinions. Be positive and encourage your child to share his or her opinions or feelings.

Make Reading Enjoyable
You can help your child enjoy reading by helping him or her find interesting things to read. If your child enjoys reading, he or she is likely to read a lot and become a proficient reader.
Here are some suggestions for encouraging your child to read: Read with your child. Talk about what you are reading together – for example, compare characters in the story with people you both know. Make sure that you have books, magazines, and other reading materials on hand for long car rides. Encourage your child to look at the graphic features in reading materials, such as photos, illustrations, and charts. Help your child understand how they are used and what their purposes are.

Many children like to read such materials as these:

Stories that reflect their image of themselves Materials that are amusing, such as jokes or funny stories Fiction that focuses on action or plot Books in a series that allow the reader to connect with the characters
Encourage Your Child to Write
Your child needs plenty of practice in writing for a variety of purposes. Here are some things you can do to encourage your child to write on a regular basis: Make sure that your child sees you reading and writing – for example, rereading a letter as you write, preparing a grocery list, or keeping a journal while travelling. Look for opportunities for purposeful writing at home, and encourage your child to read and write letters, lists, messages, postcards, thank-you notes, and so on. Encourage your child to keep a scrapbook of family holidays and to write captions or brief descriptions underneath the photographs Provide interesting stationery, journals, pens, and sticker to encourage writing. Play various word games Encourage your child to enter writing contests in local newspapers or to write “letters to the editor” on issues he or she feels strongly about Encourage your child to write letters to obtain free materials that are linked to his or her interests. Make writing an enjoyable, positive experience for your child.

Bring Literacy to Life Through the Arts
Research studies in arts education point to important links between learning in the arts and language development. Drama, dance, music, and visual arts experiences can motivate and engage students since they allow for self-expression and imagination. People from all walks of life use the arts to explore and convey ideas and to enhance understanding.
Here are some ideas for helping your child experience the arts:

Develop your child‟s ability to visualize stories by encouraging him or her to draw or paint characters and scenarios. Discuss the idea that every picture tells a story. Encourage your child to try out ideas through drawing or drama before writing them down

Be a Positive Role Model
As their children‟s first teachers and role models, parents strive to provide consistent, positive examples for their children. Your involvement and support as a parent can influence your child‟s attitudes and his or her interest and achievement in reading and writing.
Here are some suggestions of ways in which you can actively demonstrate your own interest in reading and writing: Talk regularly with your child about things you have read in newspapers, magazines, and books. Ask your child what he or she has been reading. Show that you read for a variety of purposes. Read newspaper articles to keep informed about world issues. Read advertisements to compare different brands. Check movie listing to decide on the weekend‟s entertainment. Look at hockey standings to track the performance of your favorite teams. Read comics for enjoyment.
Show that you use writing for a variety of purposes. Write grocery lists with your child. Write notes with your child when comparing items in different stores – for example, notes on measurements and colors of bicycles. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper on a topic you feel strongly about, or a letter of complaint to a manufacturer whose product is unsatisfactory.

Bring “Critical Literacy” Into Your Home
Critical literacy is the practice of examining and discussing the underlying messages in print or in other media in order to better understand the world in which we live. Critical literacy shows us ways of looking at written, visual, spoken, and multimedia materials to understand, question, and challenge the attitudes, values, and beliefs that lie beneath the surface.
Here are some ways you can help your child develop his or her capability in critical literacy: Talk about the purpose of a book or article and the author‟s reasons for writing it Help your child understand that materials in print or other media convey a particular viewpoint or perspective. Check for social and cultural fairness, and look for any misleading effects of missing information. Share your point of view about a story or an article. Discuss ways in which language is used for persuasion. For example, discuss the powerful effects of language in advertising and in methods used to persuade viewers to watch a television show. Explore different interpretations of an event that are expressed by other readers – for example, in letters to the editor of a newspaper. Respect your child‟s ideas, opinions, and feelings.

Vocabulary Building
Introduce a new word and ask them to guess which definition is right? Is HALIBUT a fish, a game or a President? They‟ll want to learn more when they‟re having fun!
Pick a new word every day and teach it to your child. Use it so they hear it in context. Encourage them to use it, and use it yourself. Even over-using it will be fun. Pick a word like „outstanding‟ and use it whenever something is „good.‟
Look for words with several meanings, and imagine stories that use them all. Can you watch a watch? Do elephants travel with trunks? How do flies fly? What makes pop pop? What can a cook cook?

Use the dictionary to look up new words that have come up in conversation, on the radio or in stories they‟ve heard. Show them how to spell the word, and how it‟s arranged alphabetically. Show them that phone books are the same way.
Keep a notebook where your child can draw pictures to go with words. Not everyone can draw, so keep it simple: A – apple, B – ball, C – cat, D – dog, E – egg, etc. soon your child will have made their very own dictionary

Make Up Stories
Write down WHO, WHAT, WHEN, Where, Why on a piece of paper, and add answers to these questions as you try to create the plot for a story, which you can then make up together.
Make up stories about the people you see around you – passing by in cars, walking in the street, waiting at the bus stop. Are they secret agents? Super-heroes?
Think of something you all use every day, and make up a story where it doesn‟t exist. What if there was no electricity? Or worse, no candy?
Take turns making up sentences with another player by saying just one word each. Think about what the next person might say, and help them keep the story going as it bounces between you.
Print out a whole bunch of pictures from a magazine. Pick six pictures at random, and tell a story.
Take turns to make up stories. Everyone playing must add a sentence to continue the same story.

Turn kids’ chores into fun with Reading and Writing
Help them write a To Do list of things they have to get done. Write a Ta Da list of things they did get done. Ta da!!
If they have special or one-time chores to do, take some time to make a Special Helper certificate on colored paper. Write their name, what they did, and make it look like a fancy certificate.
Combine kids‟ duties with a literary reward. If they clean their room, read them an extra story at bedtime.
Use a list format to spark their imaginations. What ten things would monsters do on a weekend? What ten things would pilgrims buy to take back home if they time-traveled to today? What ten things would change if you were the Prime Minister of Canada?
Read books about kids doing chores. Curious George, Madeline, Toot and Puddle, George and Martha, and the Berenstain Bears all have chores to do and errands to run in their adventures.
Write grocery lists together, and then look for the matching words on labels and receipts when you‟re out shopping.

Play Games While Waiting in Line
Play “I Spy.” Here‟s how: Look for objects around you and give the other players its first letter. “I spy with my little eye, something beginning with…T!” They have to guess, and the one who gets it right goes next.
Imagine you had to travel around collecting things with different letters. What would you collect if you had to get one thing beginning with A, then B, etc?
(Source: PBS Parents)

Environmental Print
Look for signs and labels, especially ones in your neighborhood, to show that reading for meaning is important. Talk about “environmental print” (the words around you) whenever you travel with your kids.
Get your child used to reading signs around them. One game to play is to look for store signs with “king” or “queen,” or stores with people‟s first names in the title. Make up silly or rhyming last names for them.
Read all of the signs around you, especially ones that are just symbols. What do the symbols mean? What would be a way to make symbols for other things, like “No Running!”?

Ask your child to look at the cover and name any objects and characters they know. Read the title and the author‟s name. See if the cover and title remind you of any other books you‟ve read together.
Flip through the pages and note other objects and characters in the pictures. (This is called “previewing” the book.) Ask your kid to guess what the story might be about.
After reading, sum up the story line (plot). Talk about the beginning, middle, and end of the book. Connect the story line to reallife events. Did something like this ever happen to you or your child? Do the characters remind you of anyone you know?
Point out details in the pictures. Ask about some of the details each time you reread this book. Try to expand on your child‟s answers to help the sentences grow. The best questions often begin with „why‟ or „what do you think?‟
Show your child the cover and the title page. Announce the name of the author and illustrator. This is to let them know that real people wrote this story. It might inspire them to make a book of their own. It will also help them find more books by the same writer.
Talk about how the story could be changed. If the stepsisters were nice to Cinderella, the fairy godmother would never have shown up! If the pigs had fifty more brothers, could the wolf have blown down fifty-three houses?

Talk about the themes in the books you read. How do they relate to your real-life experience as a family?
Be a role model. Let your child see you reading at home or at the library. Make reading fun. When something is fun, kids love to do it. Set aside a special read aloud time for the whole family. Show them you‟re getting books from the library too.
Keep a list of questions your child asks you. Take it with you to the library. Let your child check out what interests them, not just what you think they should read. Make a special place for their books at home, where they can be easily reached.
Make a special place at home for reading and writing. Spend regular time with your child in the reading space.
Make a mosaic out of pictures and words, based on a specific theme. Cut out pictures that match a theme, like clothes, and then make a shirt-shaped picture by sticking them together in that shape. Add in clothing words, like “shirt” or “socks.”
Make up your own advertisements. If you invented something, how would you describe it in a catalog to make people want to buy it?
Play “I Spy” by opening a catalog full of pictures and taking turns looking for small objects in the picture. Or look for things in the whole catalog that begin with each letter of the alphabet.
Cook together and chat while you do. Have some one-on-one time with your child while you‟re doing something you had to do anyway. The kitchen is a really good place to get involved with your kid, and to give them enjoyable tasks to do.
Make your own menus. Write down some favorite meals on paper, with appetizer, main course, and dessert. Or help your child create a menu for a special meal to let guests or family members know what‟s for dinner.
(Source: PBS Parents)