7 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Literacy at Home

7 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Literacy at Home

Mom and daughter spend time together reading a book. The developing brain of a young child requires constant stimulation, and there are many factors that can contribute to their development in the long term. A recent study by Altun (2022) found evidence that one important factor contributing to a child’s executive function in the long term is their home literacy environment. In other words, kids that had more access to different types of reading and language processing at home would have better memory, flexible thinking, and improved self-control in the long-term.   Altun also pointed out other factors contributing to improved executive function, including more outdoor activities, and more active screen-time instead of passive screen-time (educational TV or interactive video games instead of cartoons). Unfortunately, during this pandemic many parents have understandably found it difficult to maintain more outdoor activities. For some, there has been no choice but to introduce more passive screen-time. So, if you want your kid to have an improved executive function in the long term, the best way to achieve this is by improving their literacy at home.  Here are 7 tips on how to improve home literacy environment, according to scientists: 
  1. Shared reading
Reading to your kid is the best way to help them develop literacy skills. This is the easiest way for them to acquire new words, and subconsciously learn grammatical structures. To improve their vocabulary, you can encourage them to repeat new words from story books out loud to help drill them into their mind. Beyond these important benefits, they are also more likely to develop an interest in reading as they grow older. Many academic studies have shown that children who spend more time reading books with their parents not only spend more time reading as adults, but also develop stronger literacy skills in the long term. And of course, it’s also a great way to spend more time with your kids - so if you’ve got the time, try reading a storybook to them every night before they go to bed.   

2. Label things 

Reading doesn’t just have to be with a book. You can improve your kid’s reading and vocabulary by labeling objects around the house. Many kids love this interactive element. If you’re also trying to kill two birds with one stone, you can label the cleaning equipment too to see if they develop a hidden passion for cleaning the room.  Other than labeling objects around the house, there are other ways you can implement ‘labels’ - turning on captions. While it might be wise to reduce screen-time for your kids, we understand how difficult it has been to do so during COVID. So, if TV time is simply unavoidable, turn on the captions for some extra added learning.  

3. Nursery Rhymes & Short Songs

Many parents underestimate the power of nursery rhymes. It doesn’t help that many of these cute songs were written centuries ago, sometimes containing antiquated words that aren’t even used in the modern world anymore. That being said, the rhyming patterns that are found in nursery rhymes are often useful building blocks in learning new words. If nursery rhymes don’t tickle your fancy, find other modern short songs that make use of rhyming structures in their lyrics. When combined with simple melodies, kids find it much easier to retain these patterns subconsciously. Research has shown that music helps children acquire words even when they don’t understand them. If you’re stuck at home, make them a playlist on Spotify containing all the children’s songs you listened to yourself as a kid. In the event the repetitive melodies don’t drive you nuts, sing along with them for some extra fun.  

4. Read non-fiction to your kids 

 Many parents also believe that non-fiction books are too challenging for children, and perhaps, there are some topics that are out of grasp for the developing mind of a four-year-old. However, there are plenty of non-fiction children’s books out there that are great for creating a strong knowledge foundation in your kids. There are many children’s books about non-fiction topics that can be delivered to your home, a popular genre being books that display pretty pictures of animals and plants that also teach your kids basic biology information. By creating more background knowledge in your child, they will also have an easier time learning new concepts.  

5. Don’t be afraid to use big words 

Many teachers have noticed a word gap, or a difference in vocabulary between different children when they enter school. Researchers found that a crucial factor contributing to this word gap is that some children have more regular conversations with adults, while others are spoken to in too much of a “dumbed-down” fashion. Your kids are smarter than you may think – so don’t be afraid to use big words when talking to them. You can always explain their meaning, and the more often kids hear new words, the more likely they are able to pick up on their meaning through context.

6. Encourage story-telling and creative fiction 

A simple way to promote literacy at home is to tell your kids stories, and also encouraging your kids to tell you stories. This will help them gain a better understanding of the ins-and-outs of narrative storytelling. In the long-term, sparking their imagination with stories will also help them with more complex fiction and stronger social skills.   If you simply don’t have the time to read with your kids or tell them stories, another way to pass creative fiction down to your kids is by playing them audiobooks. Audiobooks are an accessible way to access the same content as physical books, and for kids with ADHD, it may be an easier way to engage with them as audiobooks can often be more evocative. You can create a playlist of your favorite audiobooks on Spotify, and reduce screen-time at the same time by playing these stories on Jooki

7. Model behavior 

While this may seem obvious, if you truly want to encourage literacy at home, make sure to model that behavior at home. Set aside time to reduce your own screen-time and sit down with a good book. This type of modeling will be powerful as children get older and are able to read independently. They’ll see how they can incorporate reading into their daily lives even as other activities demand their attention.  P.S. you may want to get your kids a Jooki to help you play nursery rhymes and audiobooks from Spotify, with no screen in sight. To find out more, visit our homepage.    
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