Your child can learn to love literacy with a little help from you! No matter what stage your child is at in their education, using techniques to supplement their schooling while at home is a key component in their educational success. By building on their language and literacy education, you are equipping your children with the skills they will need not only for their education, but also in social situations, higher educational opportunities, future workplace and community involvement. Literacy education is essential for personal growth and success, and the building blocks you lay while they’re in elementary school are crucial. Ages 6-9 are critical when setting solid habits and foundations. Here are 6 tips for supplementing your child’s literacy education at home.
1. Be aware of critical milestones.
Not only can a missed milestone or two be a sign of issues you don’t want to ignore, but they’re also a great guide for you as a parent. It’s impossible to understand how to approach education with your child when you have no idea of age and developmental norms. Read up, study, do some research. You’ll feel more comfortable, and it’ll take any unnecessary pressure off of you and your child. For instance, by 6-9 your child generally has increased attention and comprehension, is more comfortable with longer texts, becomes more fluent in common words and sounds, mimics reading habits, has greater phonemic awareness, an expanded vocabulary, and has developed visual literacy skills. They can also usually begin to monitor themselves while reading.
2. Give them time.
While reading with your child, make sure to allow them to set the pace. Give them the time they need to work through words on their own. If they are struggling, offer clues, but do not read for them. Clues can be key phrases such as: “What’s the first sound?” “Go through each sound in order.” “What happens when you put [insert letters here] together?” “Look at the words around this one.” Help them put the unfamiliar words in context by guiding them to skip the word and fill it in by looking at other words or pictures. Don’t hurry them through a book or tell them to move faster. Comprehension is just as important as making the sounds, and comprehension takes time.
3. Heap on the praise.
At every step along the way, make sure you are congratulating your child for their hard work. Correctly identifying sounds that letters make together, figuring out an unfamiliar word, successfully reading a phrase, sentence or book are all reasons to praise your child. You don’t need to go overboard, but a simple, “I knew you could do it! Great job!” Or “You worked so hard on that, that was awesome!” is enough to make your 6-9 year old continue on. It’s a simple and easy thing to do that will build the kind of confidence in your child that they need.
4. Be consistent.
Make literacy practice a daily thing. Read to your child, have your child read favorite books to you, point out signs while you drive and have your child read them, play rhyming games by picking a word and taking turns coming up with rhymes, sing songs with rhyming words, talk about alliteration/symbolism/metaphors/synonyms/antonyms/opposites/etc while you’re together on a bike ride, during dinner come up with word families together, on a walk have your child point out everything they see that starts with a certain letter, make games out of the parts of speech that you can play while waiting in lines, etc. All of these things reinforce learning, make it a common and expected activity, turn it into games and fun and require nothing special from you at all except for your own brain.
5. Use variety.
Don’t stick to only one game or toy to reinforce concepts. Children can grow bored easily. If you switch up the games, flash cards, activities, songs and discussions and tweak them to pertain to your child’s specific interests, they’ll retain more information and continue to find the fun in literacy.
6. Model good habits.
Especially at this age, children are learning by mimicking. That means that what you do is often much more important than what you say. So make sure your child sees you reading. Make sure they know you enjoy reading to them. Keep a public, shared bookcase easily accessible to all members of the family. Make it something they see, expect and understand so you can pass your good habits on by example.
Looking for more great ideas to encourage your child’s literacy skills? Try this list of 10 Language and Literacy Books 6-9 Year Olds Will Love!
Kimberly Mueller is the “me” over at bugaboo, mini, mr & me, a blog that highlights her creative endeavors. She especially likes to share kid crafts, sewing attempts, recipes, upcycled projects, photography and free printable gift tags/cards. When she’s not enjoying being married to her best friend, chasing after the natives (AKA her three kids) and attempting to keep the house in one piece, you can find her with a glue gun in one hand and spray paint in the other. Aside from DIY pursuits, she also enjoys writing, reading, music, singing (mostly in the shower) and the color yellow. Kimberly recently published a craft book entitled Modern Mod Podge. You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest,Bloglovin’ and Instagram. Email her at: bugabooblog(at)yahoo.com