From a very early age, children learn about language by listening to adults, and seeing and hearing them read books and newspapers. These first experiences with literacy help prepare youngsters to become readers. But how can parents who themselves have low-literacy skills support their children’s early reading efforts?
To assist these parents, the National Institute for Literacy turned to EDC’s Center for Children & Families for materials to equip low-literacy and hard-to-reach parents with the knowledge, skills, and motivation to support their children’s reading in kindergarten through third grade. A new activity guide, Our Reading and Writing Journey, offers parents ways to talk to their children, work on the alphabet, and share stories together.
EDC is also developing a facilitator’s guide for parent educators around the country who will be hosting literacy training programs. These resources are currently being field-tested at schools in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
“Our materials include vocabulary, comprehension, storytelling, and alphabet knowledge—the building blocks needed to create successful readers,” says EDC’s Sheila Skiffington. “We’re helping parents work with their children in easy ways, such as pointing out labels in a supermarket or asking open-ended questions that encourage more than yes-or-no answers. For many low-income parents, these activities don’t often happen naturally.”
The institute, a U.S. government agency, intends to make the materials available on its Web site for schools and organizations to download and adapt for use with their own literacy training programs.
Originally published on May 1, 2008