Four for Families: Key Roles for Children’s Literacy Success

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You are your child’s first teacher. You can promote language and reading from the birth of your child and throughout school. You can also work closely with your child’s teachers to encourage successful literacy experiences in and out of school. 

Your engagement is especially important if your child has reading disabilities. Children with reading disabilities have specific instructional needs.  These needs are best addressed with a comprehensive approach to literacy development.  This includes supports at school and home.

You play important roles in a comprehensive approach through four key actions: Know, Advocate, Collaborate, and Support.

Know:  Understand the parts of literacy, how children learn to read, and why they might struggle.

Children struggle to read or write for many reasons.  They may have trouble breaking words into sounds, understanding what they read, or with language. Children can also struggle because instruction might not be matched to their needs. Understanding how children learn to read can help you recognize your child’s reading and writing problems. Raise concerns early with your doctor.  For example, you may have concerns about your child’s vision or hearing.  Speak up if you have concerns about your child’s progress at school.  Being informed can help you make better decisions about your child’s education. 

Advocate:  Promote evidence-based literacy approaches in schools and early childhood settings.

Learn ways to advocate for your child’s education. Work with other parents, teachers, and administrators. For example, form a group with families to talk about your common experiences, share resources, and learn together.  Joining with other families can help schools review and improve supports for all children. Support the use of evidence-based reading programs and instruction, additional instruction for struggling readers, and data to make decisions about children’s instruction.

Collaborate: Work together with schools.

Positive home-school relationships are important for literacy development. Address concerns about your child’s literacy skills and academic progress together. Ask your school for activities and tools that your child could use at home.  Talk with teachers about the instruction or intervention your child receives at school.  Being involved will help you catch reading difficulties earlier.  It will also help your child be more successful in school.

Support:  Provide home literacy opportunities and reinforce skills taught in early childhood settings or school.

Everyday activities are a great way to boost literacy development. Talk with your child, ask questions, and listen closely to answers. Visit libraries, read together, say the alphabet, and sing songs.  These activities all promote literacy development. Also, practice skills learned at school at home. Children with reading disabilities benefit most from practicing skills.

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