Be a greater influence on your children’s literacy

Every year, we pass September 8th with a plan in mind. A sale, a free giveaway, a social cause that needs free books… some way to associate Reading with Literacy.

However the underlying fact is that literacy is not just about reading. It is about empowering an individual to function within society in a fulfilling way.

Literate people can manage their bank accounts, find directions, ask the right questions to get information and rely on a basic level of education to participate meaningfully in a community.

UNESCO International Literacy DayThis year, UNESCO has themed International Literacy Day 2014 as “Literacy and Sustainable Development”.  According to Former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, “Literacy is a key lever of change and a practical tool of empowerment on each of the three main pillars of sustainable development: economic development, social development and environmental protection.”

Every child comes into this world, with an ability to mimic the behavior of key adults around them. And with every child there exists endless opportunities to educate through example. Most of us finish our formal education early on, before our children came along. After that the few hobbies we have usually dwindle when there are young children in the house.

So how often do your children see you reading, or learning something new? How do they learn to mimic sustainable development and literacy-building activities in your day to day life?

Here are some ideas you can implement to be a greater influence on your children’s literacy:

Let children write and read the grocery lists. YES, it will take longer. But they will soon be able to anticipate your needs and help you prepare your shopping lists.

Going somewhere? Look at the map, research online, compare the hotels, find the most interesting route. All of these are engaging and challenging activities which require a lot of reading, thinking and calculation skills.

Make your monthly accounts known to the kids! Use whiteboards, or sticky notes or show them your account notebook or app. Let children see how you keep track of expenditures every month and use math skills to help you do so.

Establish a reading time. Try talking about your favourite books and see if they start to share their stories too. Book clubs get people more interested in reading, and there’s no reason why you can’t have a mini book club for your family too.

Plan a party: Can the elder ones plan the younger one’s birthday parties? Budget, location, cakes, decorations, gifts… it’s a potential career, after all. Show them how you do it and explain the tricks you’ve learned to keep things under control.

Remember, literacy is not just about being able to read, but being self-dependent enough to learn to assimilate more information as life requires it. Use your position as a parent or teacher to show children how learning helps you cope as an adult.


Ways to Improve Reading Comprehension

This Reading Mama lists 5 simple ways to improve reading comprehension and  her experience in using SNAP Learning to meet comprehension goals.

For children who struggle as readers (and even for those who don’t), comprehension is a big deal. And it starts from the very beginning. Before kids even open the book, we need to encourage them to think about what they are going to read. We can ask them to read the title or look at the cover, maybe even the Table of Contents. What is the topic? What do they already know about the topic? What do they think will happen in the story, based off what they know?

Using background knowledge is also vital as the child reads the text. What would I do in that situation? Has that happened to me before? I remember the time that… These thought patterns rely on what the child already knows to help them comprehend and make sense of the text.

Read the full post here

Top 10 Tips for Summer Reading


Summer is here! Are your kids reading? Kids need to read during the summer to help prevent the “summer slide”. Outlined below are ten ways to get your child reading more over the summer.


  1. Visit your public library weekly. Take part in your library’s summer reading program. Get to know your children’s librarian or youth librarian. Use them as a resource to help your child find books that will engage them.
  2. Bring a book with you everywhere! There so much time to sneak reading in everywhere we go. The park, the doctor’s office, and while waiting in line at the post office are all places where reading time is alive and well if children are prepared with a book.
  3. Vary fiction and nonfiction. A good balance between the two is important. Children need to know how to read both!
  4. Read about vacation destinations. Taking a vacation this summer? Check out books and websites about where you are visiting. Children having knowledge about where they are visiting will help them enjoy the trip even more.
  5. Get involved in a summer reading program. It is not too late to join in a summer reading program. Check out programs online from Barnes & Noble, Sylvan, and Chuck E. Cheese. Also check out your local public library’s program.
  6. Exchange screen time for book time. If your children want screen time make an exchange for book time. A reasonable exchange rate for most children is 30 minutes of reading for 15 minutes of screen time.
  7. Take advantage of summer nights for family reading and learning. On a warm clear night head outside with a flashlight and a book on constellations. Read under the stars about the constellations and their stories. Then find them in the sky. It may also be a great time for some ghost stories or scary stories.
  8. On a rainy day explore poetry reading and then write poems. It will help the time pass and let kids enjoy some fun on a rainy day.
  9. Plan a trip to the local zoo or museums by reading online about those places. Let your child research the location online. Allow them to read maps and plan a part of your trip. They will feel empowered through their reading skills and ability to make plans for their family visit.
  10. Be a reading role model for your child. Children who see their parents read will know that it is an enjoyable activity and will model that behavior. As your child’s first and best teacher, be the best reading role model you can be!


Why Technology Can Make all the Difference To Improving Reading



Today I bought a simple learning device for a young learner (aged 4). He comes from a family background which does not speak English, much less read and write it. They support and encourage his learning, but are unable to instruct or correct him and are dependent on him paying attention to what is taught in the class. His grandmother spoke to me about listening to him read, so that I would be able to tell if he was reading right or not.

The device was a very simple digital book reader, which on touching various pictures on the screen would give the English word for the letter or word. In addition to the ABCs, the book had pages for animals, vegetables, fruits, common ABC words (Like A for Apple, B for Ball, etc.)  numbers, and counting. This was pretty much similar to the content that was being covered in his Kindergarten school.

For ESL teachers and students, technology can be a real boon to reading and writing. Here are some of the ways in which today’s devices, learning technologies and ebooks can help early readers:


Listening to the correct pronunciation is important when learning how to read. We learn languages by imitating how others speak. Students need to hear the correct pronunciation of a word, and usage of a phrase or sentence to be able to connect this puzzle within the broader context of language..

Phonetic Assistance: Technology today provides students with a wide range of tools that can help them listen to how a word or phrase is said. Technologies like audio references, such as read aloud books (that highlight the words being read), or audio dictionaries that enable students to look up words for meaning, pronunciation and usage help students get immediate feedback.

Reading Fluency: Constant reading practice is what makes readers fluent. In order to improve fluency, students need access to reading material and be able to read aloud without error or missteps. Additionally fluency is measured by correct pause and emphasis in the reading. This comes from listening to how experienced readers read long passages.

Read along digital books with the flexibility to replay text at the paragraph, sentence and word level, can help encourage self-learning amongst students who require frequent assistance. Another tool would be a digital recorder that allows a student to record their own reading practice for an adult or teacher to later listen and review.


While learning to read, the importance of immediate feedback is critical. Especially a teacher with a number of is unable to give enough focused attention on each and every student, technology can help support those learning moments in the following ways:

Comprehension: Embedded tools which enable a student to know and learn the meaning and usage of a word such as a dictionary, encyclopedia, thesaurus, etc., all help provide quick access at the time when the student is actively seeking information.

Usage: Exercises and activities which require the student to drag and drop words, match words with meaning, etc., can all serve to provide feedback to the student. Incorrect answers followed with correct answers and reference to reading material can all serve to reinforce learning and provide feedback to teachers on which aspects of reading require more attention.


Vocabulary: A critical component to good literacy is a measure of the vocabulary a student has. This is defined by word lists. Assuming young learners have sets of word lists which they need to know to master the reading level, an excellent way to help them learn these words is through repetition. Repetition in the form of flash cards and gaming activities can help children familiarize themselves with words while competing for high scores or badges.

Word Recognition: Games like flashcards, crosswords, hangman can help a student recognize new words and reinforce meaning. When these games and interactive exercises are used in coordination with a digital reading program, they can help bring valuable attention to specific words from a grade level list.

Comprehension: Inference exercises, summaries and questions are all ways educators determine the comprehension levels of student. Interactive exercises such as fill-in-the-blanks, word maps, choosing the correct central idea in a para, etc., all serve as indicators of comprehension.

5 Cool Ways to Avoid Summer Reading Slide…


1.       Get your students to send postcards. It doesn’t matter if they aren’t going anywhere for the summer. Postcards are fun, (and then can be made too!). A few lines on what they are up to and what’s making their summer great, addressed to you, their teacher!

2.       A summer reading treasure hunt. Give them a book, but instead of the title and author, give them clues for them to find the right book! You could use the theme of the book, quotes, and even a cool map to where in the library they need to look.

3.       Offer incentives. A snow-cone or ice cream coupon for every book you finish from the book list! Nothing like cool incentives during a hot summer!

4.       Create a chain mail story. That’s right! Collect the addresses of all your students, and send them the beginning part of the story. Each student receives the story and adds the next few lines. Then sends it to the next person on the list.

5.       Get those boys reading! Include lots of hobby books and how-to activities, to keep youngsters busy and reading.