Recognizing reading and writing in everyday life helps children develop critical literacy skills. In a literacy rich classroom environment, those examples are everywhere. Children may, in fact, practice and build skills without even knowing it as they sing rhyming songs or enjoy a read aloud. Providing access to a variety of writing materials, books, and print, also encourages kids to engage with reading and writing naturally.
As schools across the country are operating in hybrid, blended or full remote modes, creating a literacy rich environment in your classroom is no longer the only priority. Educators need to also support parents and caregivers as they create their own print rich environments at home. Instead of expecting them to recreate a classroom at home, provide support that makes it easy and accessible for all parents.
Here are some practical things you can do to help families easily create literacy rich environments at home.
- Have students do projects that can serve as reusable literacy resources at home. For example, have students create posters, charts, and labels that families can hang on their walls. You can also have students create books and to encourage more reading at home.
- Set up a lending library system for your class. Help families rotate or swap books with one another or come to pick up book sets from the classroom.
- When you have synchronous class sessions, make time to have conversations and ask students lots of questions. To encourage conversations at home, have kids ask their parents to tell them a family story or about a favorite memory.
- Share access to diverse e-book libraries, reading websites, apps, audiobooks, and videos of read alouds in multiple languages. Confirm that every member of your class has access to a device and wifi.
- During your live class sessions, introduce literacy games that parents can easily play with their kids. For example, practice listening with Simon Says, identify rhyming words by playing “I’m thinking of something that rhymes with…”, or get creative with jokes and riddles.
- Ask for parent volunteers to make additional literacy materials. If it isn’t something that students can create themselves, ask if there are parents that can help out. Some of your parents may be able to double up and create an extra one for sharing with a classmate.
- Help parents identify all the things already in their home that can support literacy- menus, recipes, photo albums, grocery lists, food labels, pens, crayons, paper, catalogs, flyers, coupons, TV menus, notes, cards, letters, etc, etc.
As parents navigate remote learning, it’s important to support them with exactly what they need. When we provide simple, actionable support we help parents build their confidence and the motivation to sustain their efforts.