by Jodie Rodriguez
Very soon we'll be trading in the sound of the ice cream truck bell for the sound of the school bell. The start of a new school year is right around the corner. With the season comes the opportunity to put in place some back-to-school habits that can help your children build their literacy skills.
Here are four practical ideas to help your family kick-off the school year.
1. Keep Up With a Reading Log
Many schools request children to read at home several times a week. Even if the school does not require daily reading, it's still one of the best habits to put in place at home.
Keeping a reading log will help your kids track the books they read. When your kids can look back and see how many books they read each month, it provides a sense of accomplishment.
Writing down the titles or minutes read each day will also give your child a little extra handwriting practice. They might even give each book a star rating system and critique each book that is read.
A weekly or bi-weekly trip to the public library will ensure that you have plenty of reading material on hand. The Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report: 6th Edition shows a majority of kids agree “it is very important for their future to be a good reader,” but only one in three is a frequent reader (i.e. reads 5-7 days a week). So, don't forget to let your kids choose their own books for reading at home.
2. Create a Nightly Reading Routine
In our house, we follow a "triple B" nighttime routine: bath, books, and bed.
Right before their bath time, my kids pick out two or three books that they want to have read aloud that night. They lay their chosen books on the bed where they'll be ready to read right after they take their baths and put on pajamas. Each night, my husband and I alternate reading to the kids. Then, once the books are done, it's time for bed. You can also choose books before dinner, if your kids don't bathe before bed.
Research shows families love read aloud time. The Kids & Family Reading Report shows kids ages 6-11 and parents say their top reasons the love read-aloud time is "it's a special time together" and "reading together is fun."
Need some read-aloud ideas? Check out these books parents love to read to their kids.
3. Have Dinnertime Discussions
Take advantage of your captive audience at the dinner table each night. Implement a "no screens policy" so that distractions will be limited, which in turn will encourage conversation. Here are a couple of prompts to connect as a family:
- Tell us something you learned today.
- Share something that you were proud of today.
- What is something that you wished didn't happen today?
- What are you most looking forward to tomorrow?
Using the prompts above will help you learn about what successes and struggles your kids experienced during the day. The last prompt will help your child think ahead to a new day.
For more activities to help build literacy skills at the table, see how to practice storytelling with kids at dinnertime and three ways to build vocabulary at dinner.
4. Plan Ahead
If you know that Wednesday nights are soccer practice and Thursday nights are piano lessons, plan ahead to squeeze in literacy learning.
Your kids can listen to audiobooks in the car on the way to practice. Start with these five awesome audiobooks.
Or, you can quiz your kids on their spelling words while you drive. If you still have a few minutes, ask your kids to tell you about the last book they read.
Putting a few habits in place now will have you feeling prepared and confident when the school bell rings.
To learn more helpful tips for success, get great book recommendations, and find out what to expect for each grade, check out Scholastic Parents’ Start Smart: Back-to-School Guide.