Open the Door to Family Literacy

Happy New Year, one and all. May 2022 hold lots of love and literacy for you and yours. Through December, frustrating computers issues along with the Christmas hustle and bustle, squelched my plans to blog regularly. Hopefully, I’ll remedy that as the 2022 begins and I offer several posts on the topic of family literacy.

As you can probably infer, family literacy refers to the ways parents and children embed literacy activities into the home, and more broadly, refers to the way adults and children in the community share literacy. For our purposes, over the next few weeks, I’ll share a variety of simple, but powerful ways to encourage family literacy in your home and share the long-lasting benefits it offers.

As I teacher, I have created thousands of lesson plans and realize that in-school learning is created and contrived to attain certain skills, strategies, and goals. Not so with family literacy. When adults in the family learn to use authentic situations to teach or enhance literacy, the experience enriches everyone in meaningful ways. Here are just a few of the perks that research conducted by Nancy Padak and Tim Rasinski from Kent State University have found:

FAMILIES BENEFIT
FROM FAMILY LITERACY PROGRAMS
• Families learn to value education (1, 5, 18, 26, 36, 38, 57, 59, 65, 67). This finding
has emerged from studies of children, parents, and families.
• Families become more involved in schools (1, 19, 23, 33, 60, 65, 67). Family
involvement in schools leads to better achievement for children (33).
• Families become emotionally closer (1, 5, 25, 30, 36, 44, 49, 50, 53, 63), which
creates a more supportive home environment (9).
• Families read more and engage in more literate behaviors at home (8, 25, 26, 27, 36,
40, 41, 52, 63, 64, 65, 88).
• Families build foundations for lifelong learning (12, 70).

Click on this link to read the entire article: https://literacy.kent.edu/Oasis/Pubs/WhoBenefits2003.pdf

Two timely authentic activities that you can do right now with your children, involve writing together. As we all know, the start of a New Year is the perfect time to create New Year resolutions or aspirations. Those two words are a great start. What is a resolution? What is an aspiration? Talk about what those words mean. How are they alike? How are they different? This might sound corny, but what if you and your children took a piece of paper and few minutes to jot down your individual resolutions and share them with each other? Perhaps you could even gather as a family and create a list of family resolutions you will work together to achieve in 2022. You don’t need me to tell you what a potentially powerful experience this could be for everyone. Not only are you offering your kids an authentic way to engage in writing, you are also sharing yourselves in a unique way and shaping the future in a positive manner.

As a child, the week after Christmas involved writing thank you notes. My mom was adamant about this practice and there was no way any of her children would get away without crafting a heartfelt note to the folks who had come bearing gifts. Now, Mom was a smart woman and used a bit of psychology to entice us and make this an enjoyable experience. She would offer special stationary or cute little note paper, along with a variety of pens and pencils. She would encourage us to decorate our work and would remain close at hand should we need help spelling a word. Unfortunately, thank you notes are becoming a thing of the past (Don’t get me started), but I will share that my mom’s determination to teach us to “do the right thing” had far-reaching effects on my life. For one thing, I experienced the good feeling that comes with finishing a piece of writing and also expressing gratitude. Also, I carried on that practice with my own children. Even when they were young adults and interviewing for their first jobs, I pushed them to write a thank you note as soon as the interview was over and drop it directly into the mail. I like to think this allowed them to stand out from the crowd of other applicants.

With that said, expect to get some backlash when you want your kids to sit down and write. Although I always write thank you notes myself, I’ll admit that it’s easy to procrastinate on this task. Togetherness could be the answer. Picture yourself sitting at the kitchen table, writing your thank you notes along with your children. What a great model and dare I say, what a great opportunity to spend time together immersed in an authentic literacy experience.

Friends, I’d love to hear about ways that you and your family engage in literate activities. Please chime in and let’s encourage each other to open the door to family literacy this year.

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

About Rita K.

Veteran educator and Certified Reading specialist, Freelance writer
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