All parents are teachers. In fact, most people don’t realize that WE are a child’s most important teachers in life because we lay the foundation for a lifetime of growth, experience, and discovery.
Kids who are given daily opportunities to experience language, to build vocabulary, and to actively engage with others acquire a solid ‘bank’ of prior knowledge. This prior knowledge is similar to what we know as ‘software’ in a computer. The more prior knowledge a child has, the greater the ability to bring meaning to the written word. So what does this mean exactly?
It means that as parents, we need to do everything possible to give kids a strong foundation that consists of prior knowledge, vocabulary, critical thinking, modeling, and daily opportunities to read and write.
Here are some simple, inexpensive, and effective ways that you can encourage reading, writing, speaking, and listening at home:

READ to your child. READ with your child. Let your child READ to you.

WRITE to your child. WRITE with your child. Let your child WRITE to you.

TALK about what you are thinking with your child. TALK about what you hear your child saying. Let your child TALK to you.

LISTEN to your child. Teach your child HOW to listen and follow directions.

Now here a few questions to ask yourself as you nurture the reader, writer, and thinker in your child:

How does my child feel about himself or herself as a reader and writer?

Do I read a variety of books and written materials to my child every day?

Is my child able to discuss the cover and pictures in a book prior to reading?

When my child reads do me, what does he/she do with words that are new or difficult?

Is my child saying anything that his/her teacher should know (e.g., “These books are way too easy!” “I don’t like reading group…it’s boring.” “When can I read harder books?” “Why do I have to do this at night?” “I don’t get why we have to read books in class that we’re not interested in.” “Why do I have to go to that ‘other’ teacher for reading and writing every day?” “I don’t like to write . . . it’s boring and hard.”

How does my child respond when asked questions about a story or when asked to retell a story we read together?

Does my child hold a pencil correctly? (Pencil/pen resting on 3rd finger with thumb and pointer finger ‘pinching’ it.)

Do I show my child what writing looks like by writing to him/her daily?

Do we talk in the car?

Do we talk during meals?

Do I ask my child questions that require only a ‘yes or no’ answer? If so, how can I reword my questions so this doesn’t happen so often?

Do I model good reading, writing, and thinking skills for my child every day?

The most important thing to remember is that we all learn by ‘doing.’ When children are exposed to environments where they can freely express themselves, share ideas through art, music, drama, and the written word, and use books to learn and grow, they become confident in their ability to READ, WRITE, and THINK independently.
Are you a parent? If so, you are a teacher.
Teach them well. Parent them well. Love them well.
Then sit back and watch them soar!
Guest Blogger: Dr. Connie Hebert, National Literacy Consultant & Author
Dr. Connie Hebert is dedicated to catching falling readers by motivating, teaching, and inspiring educators around the world.  She has presented literacy seminars, district trainings, and keynote addresses in 47 states and at national, state, European IRA, NAESP, and RRCNA reading conferences. She is the mother of 3 amazing children, a nationally acclaimed teacher of teachers, reading specialist, and motivational speaker. Published works include her books, Catch a Falling Reader, Catch a Falling Writer, and Catch a Falling Teacher, along with 4 sets of Sight Word Phrases. For more information and her Catch a Blog, please visit:
Dr. Connie is also an expert at helping parents engage with their kids at home. Her upcoming book, The Teachable Minute: The Secret to Raising Smart & Appreciative Kids, offer lots of suggestions for what to SHOW, ASK, & TEACH kids in 77 common places. Watch for it…coming this February, 2013.
Facebook: Connie Hebert
Twitter: DrConnieHebert

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