If we are parents, then we are teachers. In fact, we are a child’s most important teacher in life because we lay the foundation for a lifetime of growth, experience, and discovery. Just as a house needs a solid foundation and a strong roof, so do children! Those who are given daily opportunities to experience language, in all of its forms, will ultimately acquire a strong and solid ‘bank’ of prior knowledge to draw upon. They quickly learn that speaking, reading, writing, and thinking are important and necessary for communication. They learn that to be a reader, writer and thinker one must read, write, and think!
Here’s how you can nurture and support the reader, writer, and thinker in your child:
READ to your child. READ with your child. Let your child READ to you.
WRITE to your child. WRITE with your child. Let your child WRITE to you.
TALK about what you are thinking with your child. TALK about what you hear your child saying. Let your child TALK to you. LISTEN to your child.
Here are a few questions to consider as you nurture the reader, writer, and thinker in your child:
Ø How does my child feel about himself or herself as a reader and writer?
Ø Do I read a variety of books and written materials to my child every day?
Ø Is my child able to discuss the cover and pictures in a book prior to reading?
Ø When my child reads do me, what does he/she do with words that are new or difficult?
Ø Is my child saying anything that his/her teacher should know (e.g., “These books are way too easy!” “I don’t like reading group…it’s boring.” “When can I read harder books?” “Why do I have to do this at night?” “I don’t get why we have to read books in class that we’re not interested in.” “Why do I have to go to that ‘other’ teacher for reading and writing every day?” “I don’t like to write . . . it’s boring and hard.”
Ø How does my child respond when asked questions about a story or when asked to retell a story we read together?
Ø Does my child hold a pencil correctly? (Pencil/pen resting on 3rd finger with thumb and pointer finger ‘pinching’ it.)
Ø Do I show my child what writing looks like by writing to him/her daily?
Ø Do we talk in the car?
Ø Do we talk during meals?
Ø Do I ask my child questions that require only a ‘yes or no’ answer? If so, how can I reword my questions so this doesn’t happen so often?
Ø Do I model good reading, writing, and thinking skills for my child every day?
The most important thing to remember is that we all learn by ‘doing.’ When children are exposed to environments where they are free to express their thoughts, read to and with someone, and share their ideas through the written word, they become confident in their reading, writing, and thinking abilities.
Cherish the reader, writer, and thinker in you…and in your child. Watch what marvelous things come of it!