Tag Archives: family literacy

Celebrate the first day of summer with summer reading.

SummerReadingSummer reading is an important component of an overall reading program. Research shows that summer vacation often has a significant negative effect on student learning. Providing opportunities for students to read regularly during the summer can prevent documented reading achievement losses. The bottom line is that students who read during the summer do better in the fall.

A June literacy fair for students and their families is the perfect way to end the school year and get students off on the right track for the summer. In addition to standard carnival fare (face painting, games of chance, etc.), offer a variety of fun literacy-based activities!

  • The cost of entrance? Ask students to bring a lightly used book as an entrance pass, to be collected on a table or display. As students leave, each person can select a book to keep from the donations.
  • Hold a literary trivia contest, with new, donated books for prizes.
  • Invite an author to your school for a book reading/signing event. If the author can’t attend in person, have the author Skype in to talk with the students.
  • Don’t forget to invite families to your event and to include informational material.

How will you kick off the summer with reading?

Summer Learning

summerlearningonlineSince we are past Memorial Day, now seems like a good time to plan for summer learning for students. Summertime is a great time for growing minds! Here are a few ideas that can be passed on to families so the learning can continue even when school isn’t in session:

  • Ask for help with shopping.

Work together to make a shopping list. Younger children can help brainstorm items to add to the list. Older children can create the list for you. A step further? Have children and teens work within a budget, use problem-solving skills to create lists, and buy their favorite treats at the store. See more in this lesson plan.

  • Use a map.

It used to be that when people wanted to know where someplace was or how to get there, they’d buy a paper map. And even though many people now use GPS systems or websites that provide directions, basic map-reading skills are still important for times when these resources are not available. This activity will help kids develop these skills by having them analyze the features found on a state map; locate—and estimate distances between—familiar landmarks on a local map; and research statistical information using an online atlas.

  • Go for a ride!

In the car or while on a bike, notice surrounding things: weather, people or traffic signs. These activities for younger children will have children reading signs, logos, brand names, and other words all over their home and community. While driving around town or surfing the Internet, teens are sure to see “Pass It On” billboards brought to them by The Foundation for a Better Life that are meant to inspire and motivate people to do good.  In this activity, teens will study examples of these billboards and create their own original billboard and inspirational phrase for a person of their choosing.

While it’s important that children see you choosing, checking out and enjoying books, also let children see you using the library as part of an inquiry. Work with a media specialist to find answers. Visit an online library to see what resources are available there. Have the child or teens select some books to check out. Then, ask the child to tell you about one of the texts, why it was picked, and predict what it might be about.

  • Find time to read together every day.

Book clubs have come back as a popular way to allow readers to discuss books in an informal setting. Children can enjoy the same kind of community-building experience by meeting with friends to choose, read, and discuss books together. Their meetings can come to life with discussions, arts and crafts, and activities.  Different book clubs will need different amounts of adult supervision, so provide guidance but don’t be afraid to step back and let them run the show!

  • Play games!

Playing board games or card games can be a fun activity, so why not make your own? Working together, the players will decide what the game will look like, how it will be played, and what kinds of materials are needed. When the game and directions are complete, have fun playing it!

Research tells us that children and teens who don’t read and write outside of school, especially during long breaks such as summer vacation, face a big loss in their literacy growth compared to those who do continue learning all year long. This means the summer months and other breaks from school offer wonderful opportunities for families, caregivers, and out-of-school educators to help improve reading and writing.

Family Literacy

Grandmother and granddaughter reading and smilingNational Family Literacy Day, celebrated across the U.S., focuses on special activities and events that showcase the importance of family literacy programs. First held in 1994, the annual event is officially celebrated on November 1st, but many events are held throughout the month of November. Schools, libraries, and other literacy organizations participate through read-a-thons, celebrity appearances, book drives, and more. As both a parent and a teacher, I know it’s critical that we make the connection between home and school.

The following resources from NCTE and ReadWriteThink.org provide more ideas for fostering family literacy.

As children learn to write, parents and family members can support their progress in a variety of ways. The NCTE document “How to Help Your Child Become a Better Writer” details some useful tips, and is available in both English and Spanish.

Bursting with the energetic voices of young writers and their families, Family Message Journals: Teaching Writing through Family Involvement, follows the development of emergent and beginning writers as they explore the power and joy of written communication. View the lesson plans based on this book and written by the author, Julie Wollman.

NCTE’s Becoming Teammates: Teachers and Families as Literacy Partners offers a bold new look at how teachers and families can work together to build family-school relationships that value and respect each other’s perspectives on literacy. This book features the voices of parents, teachers, graduate students, and preservice teachers.

In Reading and Writing and Teens: A Parent’s Guide to Adolescent Literacy, author Cathy Fleischer, an English professor and mother of teenagers, explains what current research tells us about reading, writing, technology, and standards and testing – and gives specific suggestions for what parents and caregivers can do to help children succeed, both in school and outside the classroom.

The Family Writing Project: Creating Space for Sustaining Teacher Identity”, an article from English Journal shares a report on the study of family writing projects in an urban school district. Using the concept of “third space,” they describe the influence of this family literacy program on teacher practice.

The themed issue of English Leadership Quarterly Leadership Roles in Family Literacy Projects covers the topic of family literacy with articles such as “Fostering Literacy: Connecting Families with Schools” and “Building Home and School Literacy Partnerships: A Principal’s Perspective”.

Visit ReadWriteThink.org’s Parent & Afterschool Resources for an array of activities you can recommend to families and caregivers to make connections between literacy learning in and out of the school setting.