Making Your Home a Place For Readers
Several tips to help parents of young children promote literacy at home.
- Choose a quiet time for reading to your child, as in before a nap, bedtime, or after dinner.
- Choose a special place for family reading, like a comfortable chair or pillows piled on the floor.
- Let your child select the book for you to read aloud.
- Hold the book so that she or he can see the pictures. If possible, also let her or him turn the pages.
- Take time to look at and talk about the pictures. Don't just read the story: talk about it. Let your child point out letters, shapes, colors, and animals.
- Understand that reading begins at home. Children read their environments, so make your home a print rich environment.
- Read! Don't expect reading to be important to your children if they see that it's not important to you.
- Invite your child to read to you. If he or she is a pre reader, he'll often interpret his own story using illustrations and his imagination.
- Make lists, lots of them. Make them for grocery shopping, books to buy and things to take on trips.
- Read aloud to your child every day.
*adapted from My First Week of School by Derrick Gantt.
Lots of suggested picture books that parents can use with their preshool childen to encourage literacy are in Preschool Books Listed by Themes
Art and Craft: Personal Placemats
This early childhood activity by Tricia V. results in a product that can be used by children everyday.
Materials: Clear contact paper (many, many uses for this so buy a big roll). Large sheet of art paper about 12 X 14 inches, paint or crayons.
Description: Let your child draw a picture on both sides of the paper or if you a using sloppy paints use 2 sheets and secure them back to back with tape. "Laminate" them with the clear contact paper! They can be used over and over for months or untill your child decides to make a new one. You can let them make one for holidays and older children can use Wrapping paper to make Holiday placemats for everyone at dinner!
No Heat Recipe: Crunchy Vegetable Burritos
Try these easy to make, healthy burritos for lunch. Parents or older children can do the shredding and chopping. Then preschoolers can do the mixing and wrapping. Serves 4
½ cup shredded carrots
½ cup chopped broccoli
½ cup chopped cauliflower
2 green onions, thinly sliced
4 ounces shredded low fat cheddar cheese
¼ cup nonfat ranch salad dressing
½ teaspoon chili powder
4 (7 inch) flour tortillas
1 cup torn iceberg lettuce, bite size pieces
1. In a mixing bowl, combine carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and onions with cheese, dressing and chili powder.
2. Lay tortillas flat on the counter and spoon about ½ cup vegetable mixture and ¼ cup of lettuce down the the center. Wrap each tortilla around the vegetable mixture. Enjoy with your children!
Recipe: Create a "Broccoli Forest"
Instead of a sweet treat, try serving young children this picture perfect forest. Serves 4
¼ cup plain nonfat yogurt
¼ cup light sour cream
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
2 carrots, peeled
3 cups broccoli florettes
4 cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons parsley leaves
1. To prepare dipping sauce; combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl (children can do this). Set bowl aside.
2. The Forest: Parent or older children do this. Hold carrots against a cutting board and trim off ends. Cut each carrot in half, crosswise. Then cut each piece lengthwise, to make 4 pieces.
3. Next, arrange each plate by putting two carrot pieces side-by-side in the center. Arrange broccoli florettes around the carrots forming a cluster. Arrange the tomato at the top of the plate. Now, spoon the dipping sauce around the base of the carrots and sprinkle with the parsley leaves.
Talk with preschoolers about the different colors and tastes as they enjoy this vegetable snack!
What looks like a tree?
Is high in Vitamin C
And is good for you and me?
Homemade Ice Cream
This activity by April N. make a good snack while teaching the affects of temperature on liquid.
measuring spoons and cup
small ziplock bags
large plastic bags, (shopping bag fine)
Procedure: Tell your child that you and he / she are going to make ice cream. First, one cup of milk is measured and poured into a small ziplock bag. Two tablespoons of sugar are added to the milk. The recipe can be doubled in each ziplock as needed. The bag is zipped up, and put into another ziplock.
The bag is put in to a large plastic bag, grocery bags work fine. This bag is put into a second large bag.
Now, ice is added into the bag, covering the smaller bags containing the milk and sugar mix. Salt is added to the ice. This makes it colder and keeps it cold. Use a generous amount of salt. The bag is tied tightly closed. Wrap a towel around the bag and hold closed. Your child can help to shake the towel with the bags inside. It must be shaken for about 15 minutes. The more helpers the better.
As the ice and mixture are shaken, the ice cream starts to form. The milk and sugar thicken and harden. It comes out tasting like ice milk and is thick. The bags with the ice cream are removed once hardened, and the salt must be washed off the bag right away. The treat can be scooped out and enjoyed.
Comments: It really works! Make sure the bags are tightly closed because they can open while being shaken and the salt will get in to the ice cream.
Sing and Move
Sing a few familiar songs together with your child. As you sing march, clap your hands, or stamp your feet in time to the music. Then, Take turns saying favorite nursery rhymes aloud. Agree on one rhyme that both of you can repeat together. Add some hand and body actions as you say the words.
For nursery rhymes, songs and finger plays go to the
Preschool Rainbow Rhyme Collection.
Parents, explain to your preschool child that days, like people, have names.
Say, "Today's name is (Monday). Tomorrow's name is (Tuesday)." Show him or her the day's names at the top of the calendar. Help your youngster understand the passage of time and how we measure time by the month, day, hour etc.
Circle special days on the calendar and count how many days until each special day arrives. The special days can be any day that you and your child will be doing something that your child likes, for example, a visit to grandparents, trip to the zoo, or the day he or she will help wash the dog etc.
Sit with your preschool child and explain what the holiday is all about. Look for TV programs about the holiday that he or she might enjoy and watch with your child.
Holiday Art and Craft Activities
and rhymes, songs and fingerplays are in
Nursery Rhymes for Special Occasions
Parents cut out a circle, square and triangle from a large piece of cardboard. Give your preschool child a large sheet of paper on which to make a picture or design by tracing the shapes . Encourage your child to color the picture or design. Write your preschooler's name at the top of his or her picture, spelling their name letter by letter as you write. Later take your child to the library. Find some books on shapes, colors or sizes to enjoy with your child.
The Color and Shape Theme is in the Rainbow Resource Room.
Looking for Animals
Parents, gather several old magazines and ask your youngster to look for and cut out pictures of animals. Help him or her glue or paste the pictures on a large sheet of paper. Then ask your preschool child to name as many of the animals as he or she can. Write each name under (or near) the picture and spell out the letters as you write. Also, write your child's name at the top of the paper, spelling as you write.
For more activities about animals go to the Animal Theme.
Top of page
As a parent, you are the major provider of your child's education from birth through adolescence. You guide the development of her character and mental health and help form the foundation from which she'll develop lifelong attitudes and interests. And because your home is the primary environment in which your child's potential and personality will take shape, it's important to make sure that you create a positive, open atmosphere that will not only support what goes on in the classroom, but will also instill the desire to learn.
It is through your love and encouragement that your kids will become motivated — first to please you, and then to please themselves. This leads to self-confidence, curiosity, the enjoyment of mastering new tasks, and other healthy attitudes, all of which contribute to successful learning.
But unless you are home-schooling, you will not be the one teaching your child science or geography. And while it's true that all of the facts, skills, and concepts your children learn at school are influenced by what you do at home, your child's education is equally impacted by the relationships you form with her teachers. Building an effective relationship with the teacher is a critical task, and, like you, every teacher wants to achieve this goal. As with any relationship, mutual respect, the ability to listen, and lots of communication form the foundation.
When parents and teachers work well together, everyone benefits. Parents and teachers can provide each other with unique insight and different perspectives about the same child, culminating in a more complete understanding of that child, her abilities, strengths, and challenges. The teacher will know much more about the curriculum and the school culture, while you know more about your child's personality, tendencies, and family life. A successful parent-teacher partnership also shows a child that an entire team of adults is on her side.
Why What You Do at Home Is So Important at School
A positive relationship with your child is more important to her school career than your constant presence in the classroom. Because young children identify strongly with you, your attitudes, values, and innermost feelings are contagious. They become embedded in your child's mind at the deepest levels.
If your own experience with school was miserable, you might feel anxious about your child's school experiences. Your child will sense this, and it could hamper her ability to throw herself wholeheartedly into learning. She may feel disloyal if she allows herself to like school and work hard, even if your words are telling her to do so.
For your child's sake you'll need to put the past behind you and "start over," assuming that your child's teachers, school, and overall experience will be good and happy. Even if you didn't like school, the best way to help your child is to endorse her experience: Get involved, be positive, and trust her teachers. She will get the message: "School is important; I want you to engage fully."
Make Quality Time for Your Child
It might sound obvious, but today, parents' schedules are full to overflowing. The good news is that there are easy ways to enjoy time with your child that also support learning. You can be available during play dates, snuggle on the sofa while watching a good video together, take a nature walk in the park, make appreciative comments from time to time as your child plays, cook something yummy together, or just hang out and chat. All these things support your child's deep belief that you know her, care about her, and would never expect her to do something that isn't possible — such as learn in school.
Become an Active Partner in Learning
Most educators believe in parent participation in children's education, but "participation" means different things to different teachers. To some, it might mean helping children with homework, returning notes and sending things in on time, and coming to a conference when notified to do so. But it should mean much more. Work with the teacher to find out some ways you can contribute to the classroom, but always be sure to do it within the guidelines she'll provide for you. By the same token, you have valuable insight about your child — no one knows her better than you — so it's important to take initiative and communicate that knowledge to the teacher throughout the school year.
First, be sure to provide details about your child's home life to your teacher. The most effective teachers have a fairly complete understanding of each child in their class. You can help by telling her about your child's family life, including any recent changes (divorce, a death in the family, or illness, for example), important traditions or rituals, languages spoken at home, and other significant details unique to your child.
Ask about ways to share your culture — food, music, photos, and traditions — with the class. Not only will this help strengthen your child's self-esteem, it will also enrich the learning experience for the entire class and foster an appreciation of diversity. Between the ages of 3 and 8, kids are beginning to deal with a world bigger than the family, and they become keenly aware of every difference between themselves and their peers.
Plan to have a family discussion each week. Try to pick a topic that emerges from your child's experiences at school. The more you familiarize yourself with the daily routines and activities at preschool, the more you'll be able to encourage this type of conversation. You can even extend the idea into an art project or create a family "book club" where everyone reads something relating to this theme.
Get the entire family involved. As often as possible, try to participate in field trips and classroom events such as potlucks, story parties, art shows, and class celebrations. Include grandparents, siblings, caregivers, and family friends. Your child will be delighted.
For parents and teachers alike, the goal is to play active roles in your child's life and to work towards forming a real bond. The child's best interest is always served when she has lots of people rooting for her and all the pieces of her life fit together. A strong home-school connection will set the stage for a child who will grow up with a love for learning.