Research shows that the number one way to help with reading is to dedicate as much time to actually engaging in the act of reading as possible. There are many things parents and caregivers can do at home to foster strong literacy skills. In our previous Literacy at Home blogs, we covered Learning to Read and Learning to Write for younger children. As children grow older and spend less and less time developing the skills necessary to learn to read, they make a switch to being able to read to learn.
Once your child is past the emergent literacy stage, they will really start to engage in deep levels of reading for meaning. There are many ways you can help facilitate this learning at home. Here are 5 ways to help boost your older child and teen's literacy skills!
Create a Literacy Rich Environment
Just like with our younger readers and writers, it is important that you continue to model not only the act of engaging in literacy, but that you provide a space that is full of print-reach places to cuddle up with a good book. As children get older, the lure of screen time, social media, and the digital world grows stronger. Continuing to create sacred times and spaces for enjoying books together or separately helps nurture a life-long love for reading.
Allow Their Identities As Readers To Shine
As your child grows older, they will start to develop a keen sense of who they are as readers. While it is important that your older reader is developing strengths across all genres, make sure they have ample time to read their favorites for the act of enjoyment. When the act of reading feels constantly forced, it is easy for one to become turned off by it altogether. Another thing to take note of is which modalities they prefer. If your child needs audiobooks for various reasons, make sure these are available and encouraged.
Get Deep About Content
One of the benefits of having an older reader at home, is the ability to partake in much deeper conversations about the characters, settings, themes, plots, etc. Even if you haven't read the book they are reading, there are still ways to encourage them to take an in depth look at what they read by asking more generalized questions such as:
- What they did or didn't like about the book
- What they felt the author's purpose was
- Which character they identified with the most
- If they were going to make it into a movie, what would they change
Compare and Contrast With Movies
To help provide authentic opportunities to engage in these deeper conversations, bring in movies made after books for some great dialogue about similarities and differences. One of the best things about youth and young adult fiction, historical fiction, and biographies, is they are often genres full of books/topics that have been made into movies. Do a quick search for these titles turned into films for inspiration. Also, don't forget the classic rule of, "book before movie."
Stay Tuned In To Struggles
Once a child has transitioned into the "reading to learn" phase and comprehension tasks become more challenging, it is not uncommon to see struggles develop that might not have presented in earlier years. Keep a close eye on school performance, teacher comments, frustrations while reading, or an increased apathy or dislike of literacy activities.
If your older reader demonstrates a need for support, there are many programs and specialists out there designed for older ages. As always, Parallel is here to help your struggling learner or to provide a proactive approach to organization and school work. Click here for more information!