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School Years: Learning and Practicing Literacy Skills

Early school experiences should be built on the solid foundation of early literacy skills that a child has already acquired, and should also help develop the ability to pay attention for increasingly long periods of time and build and access memory systems.

Reading is NOT a natural activity, even though it is crucial for success in our society. Reading skills need to be developed, reinforced, and practiced! Once a child has "broken the code" and can successfully decode written language, a great deal of practice is necessary to attain fluency and build vocabulary.

Children still struggling as they enter second grade need assessment and intervention to determine how they can be helped. As children move into third grade and beyond, their ability to read well will have a greater and greater impact on other aspects of their school experiences.

Even though we may depend on teachers and schools to provide a formal education for our children, adults need to remember that they play a critical role! The good news is that all of the above required skills, and other concepts that are important like counting, "pretend" writing, and recognizing colors, shapes, and patterns can be acquired using every day activities and opportunities. During this time, there are several things adults can do to help develop a child’s early literacy skills.

Talk, talk, talk!
Make time every day to spend some one-on-one time with each child. Find a quiet, private time - maybe while tucking into bed or waking up in the morning - to make eye contact and give your undivided attention.

Motivate and Energize
Building a brain is extremely energy consuming! Make sure your child has enough rest, appropriate nutrition, and adequate health care, as well as your emotional support, so he is not distracted from learning by physical and emotional issues.

Read With Your Child
Just because a child can read on his own doesn’t mean he no longer enjoys being read to. Especially for younger children, reading is hard work. They love being able to relax and just enjoy the story! Older children may not want to be read to any longer, but they will benefit greatly from discussing things with you that they’ve read, or having you share with them something you’ve read.

Programs and Activities

  • Ready to Learn
    PBS project that helps children ages birth to age eight gain the skills, especially literacy, they need to be successful in school and life.
  • Read the Books
    Recommended books -- all categories, all ages.
  • Guys Read
    The mission of popular author Jon Scieszka's website is to motivate boys to read by connecting them with materials they will want to read, in ways they like to read.
  • ReadKiddoRead
    James Patterson's website dedicated to making kids readers for life.
  • Reading Rockets
    Reading activities and information for preschool and school-age children.

Make Learning Fun!
  • Starfall
    Prepare children for school and support them once they are there with this educational alternative to other entertainment choices for children.
  • ¡Colorín Colorado!
    A bilingual site for families and educators of English language learners, filled with information and activities.
  • Monthly Activity Calendar
    A great resource for you to engage your child in activities that enhance their reading abilities every day.
  • Storyline Online
    Online, streaming video program featuring Screen Actors Guild members reading children's books aloud. Includes activities.
  • Enchanted Learning
    Educational web sites and games designed to stimulate creativity, learning, enjoyment, and imagination.
  • Helping Your Child Learn Mathematics
    Activities for children in preschool through grade 5.

Parenting Help

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