Literacy Rich Environments
Reading and writing are important skill in our lives. We use it everyday to be a successful part of the world around us. There is also a large tie between the ability to read, both in the classroom and beyond. That means raising kids in a world and environment that is rich with opportunities for literacy is important.
What is a Literacy Rich Environment?
A literacy rich environment means that we are creating spaces where connecting written language, spoken language and reading are prioritized. This is emphasized in schools, for our youngest students you will see labels around the classroom with pictures and words so they can develop associations between written words and their meanings. As students get older on the walls of their classrooms important vocabulary words are displayed or difficult words are placed on walls for easy access to be used. But how can we build a place at home that is literacy rich? Keep reading to find some great ideas which can be used or adapted to fit into your home!
Creating a Literacy Rich Environment at Home
In a lot of homes we are reading books with our children, especially a book before bed. This is a great start to creating a home where literacy is important. But let’s talk about a few easy things we can add into our routines that would make an impact on our children.
Let Them See You Read
This is an easy but important task. Letting your children see you taking time to read is a way they are easily able to mimic you.
Can I ask you to take it a bit further? We ask our younger children to read from real books, so let them see you holding a book – yes, a physical book. Younger children are very literal so seeing you read on your phone is not the same to them as a book in your hands.
Teach Them To “Read” – Even Before They Know Letters
Yes, I know, sounds crazy. But here’s how I do it. I used this technique when I was teaching kids who couldn’t read yet at school and in my own home. Take a book you have read before, you know the one that you have read a million times to the point where it’s memorized – that one. With that book, teach them to “read” the pictures and call it reading. Explain that they can retell the story out loud in their own words using the pictures to help guide them. My three year old loves to “read” her books! Try it and encourage them when you see it – “Oh my goodness! Look at you reading all on your own!” This builds a muscle for independent reading at a young age.
Makes Books Accessible to Them
So now we have them reading, but we want to make sure they can read anytime they want. Okay, not when they are supposed to be putting shoes on, but any time where they have freedom to choose. But will they pick books when they could have play time? YES! Sometimes they do! Make sure they have their favorite books available at their height and in a space they are allowed to take from. Here is a big tip, when you see them pick a book tell them you love the choice they made. “You made such a good choice in what to do. You’re reading so nice.”
Visit the Library!
Going to the library is important not only for them to see all the books available, but also to keep their choices for reading fresh. We know kids will have their favorite books that they love to read over and over again but, it’s also nice to change up their selection. Going to the library makes this easy, fast and kind on your wallet.
The only thing I will add here is, don’t forget to get a book for yourself so they see you reading.
It’s About Practice, Not Perfection
I know as parents we have a lot going on. We are not going to be able to sit down and read next to our kids every night AND do a read aloud before bed. But when there is time to sit and read next to them, prioritize it. Narrate what you are doing for them as well, “I love getting to sit and read next to you.”
Literacy rich environments are not impossible, but it takes some time and planning on how to build it in your home. Let us know how you build a literacy rich environment at your house below!
Tiffany Verhoosel is currently a Computer Science teacher in the Baltimore City School District. Coming from a background of business she joined the Baltimore City Teaching Residency over ten years ago to make the career change into education and has never looked back. Her degree from Johns Hopkins, a Master of Science in Digital Age Learning and Educational Technology, helped propel her from Special Educator to her current teaching position where she teaches Kindergarten to eighth grade students how to code.