Tips for Better Writing
Every day we are surrounded by texts - written texts such as books, newspapers, poetry, song lyrics, timetables, instructions; visual texts, such as pictures, posters, advertisements, graphs and symbols; and multi-media texts, including those associated with technology, film and music. Students who study English/Language Arts today are taught not only to fully appreciate how each of these text types are composed and the specific methods used to create meaning in each, but that each of us brings our own personal context to our understanding of them. The theoretical name for this approach is 'multimodal', as shown in the diagram below. But more importantly, in practice, this means students are taught how to make sense of all the complex ways humans communicate - from recognising how language can persuade or play upon our emotions, to appreciating a good film or story, understanding instructions, contracts or forms, or simply reading a map or GPS unit. All of these everyday tasks require reading in some form.
What the Research Shows
Research clearly shows that a child's reading ability is connected with how much attention is paid to literacy in the home. Various studies have highlighted several factors which influence children's enjoyment of and skills in reading, writing, word recognition and vocabulary, even before the child begins formal schooling. These include:
• Parental/carer encouragement of reading and literacy
• A home where the printed word is valued and where adults 'model' an enjoyment of reading and writing
• Access to a range of reading and other learning opportunities
• Knowledge of the alphabet pre-school
• The value of belonging to a library
• Parental/carer involvement with school
It is also important that children are encouraged to tell their own stories - and that they are able to share these with the important adults in their lives. Reading material should also be fun and age or development-level appropriate.
11 Tips to Encourage Reading
1. Create a cozy reading space that you and your child can share. Make sure that it is well-lit, and comes complete with comfortable sofas, cushions and a range of reading materials - books, newspapers, magazines, comics, graphic novels, picture books, brochures, catalogues .... anything that includes the printed word.
2. Read - let them see you reading, let them hear you talk about what you've read, read to them and read along with them.
3. Limit passive television watching - encourage other activities: games, puzzles, cooking as well as reading. All of these can also encourage literacy skills. But, don't associate television with reading as either a reward (for reading) or as a punishment (for not reading).
4. Encourage children to think about what they are reading, seeing and hearing from an early age - explore the front and back of books before beginning: what does the cover image suggest? The title? When watching television or the news together, encourage questions - think who, what, where, why and how as starters.
5. Join a library - and visit regularly. Take advantage of any children's activities that the library has on offer. Children's librarians specialise in making literacy fun! Also make use of other community resources that encourage literacy.
6. Build upon interest - provide more reading/viewing activities related to things your child shows interest in. Talk about what these have in common.
7. Learn by teaching - encourage older siblings to read to younger children, or to explain rules/instructions. This also encourages responsibility.
8. Find learning opportunities inside the home and out - encourage children to read recipes with you and have fun cooking. Pay attention to spelling on television advertisements. Ask them to read shopfronts and supermarket products, street signs and maps.
9. Have fun - there are many learning games available. Use them. Encourage telling jokes. But don't limit yourself and your child to those activities which are static - incorporate movement, dance or drama into literacy activities. Try catching a ball while spelling and rhyming. Or, encourage your child to 'act' out plays and characters.
10. Explore reading in a variety of forms: read printed books, explore age-appropriate web content and even consider using technology like e-readers or computers to encourage your child to read. Both the Amazon Kindle and Apple's Ipad have a multitude of children's titles available.
11. Finally, check our blog regularly, for reviews and recommended reads for young readers. Subscribe to make keeping up to date even easier!