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Today over at, Marisa Kaplan was kind enough to share a post that I wrote about easy ways to engage kids in literacy-building activities as a family.

I hope you’ll stop by to say “hi” to Marisa and check out, it is a wonderful resource on very simple, practical ways to connect kids with learning and reading.

I’ve also pasted in a copy of the article here. Enjoy!

If I say the word “literacy,” what do you see?

A book? a teacher? a notebook? a cereal box?
your kids’ drawings? toys?

What would you say if I told you all of those things play a role in your child’s literacy development. It is true! Long before your child hears his first school bell, he has been building his literacy skills at home. While a book might seem obvious, some of the other things may not.

  • Pretend play – whether it is racing dump trucks around the sandbox or playing dress up – is a daily opportunity for literacy development. The stories kids create and act out not only build communication and vocabulary skills, but expand their imagination.
  • Sorting blocks by size or color and simple puzzles help kids think logically and begin to distinguish differences in objects. Later, when they are learning letters, that same skill will be used to distinguish a “b” from a “d” from a “p.”
  • Those first artistic masterpieces are our kids way of learning to grasp, grip, and build the muscle strength they need for forming letters and numbers later.

But what about the teacher? Well, she is staring back at you from the mirror! Parents are our children’s first teachers. Remember that “oops” when your toddler repeated something you wish she hadn’t? They learned that from us!  We can teach them some good stuff, too! Literacy is the first building block of the “good stuff.”

When you look at literacy in its entirety, it is VERY EASY to take everyday activities and turn them into literacy building blocks. As you walk through the store, ask your two-year-old to spot something red or round; or your four-year-old to find a yellow square. You’ve got them focused (instead of asking ‘can I’) and doing something they’ll think is fun. Makes shopping faster and easier, too!

Last but not least, let your kids catch you reading! When the kids see us reading – cereal boxes, cookbooks, the newspaper, books – they absorb the message that reading is important. Modeling reading and spending time sharing books with our kids are two of the three linchpins to learning.

The last linchpin is having things to read at home! If your child can own a book that’s all his, that is great, but don’t discount the library. The goal is to surround your kids with different kinds of materials. Magazines, catalogs, books, junk mail – they all expose them to images and ideas that feed their desire to learn.

So now you’re asking but what if I don’t like to read books? Literacy isn’t a Norman Rockwell painting! It is a living, breathing part of our daily lives. Sorting and opening the mail, sending an email … they are all pieces of literacy that our kids observe. If you feel strongly about books but are uncomfortable reading, the library has lots of children’s books on CD/tape that you can borrow. Enjoy a quiet moment to sit and listen together.

Literacy isn’t something you need to “add” to your to-do list, it is integral to daily living. From conversations at the breakfast table to cuddling up with a bedtime story, each day offers countless opportunities to give our children a strong foundation for learning and ultimately, lifelong success.