To be literate, is to be capable of listening, reading, viewing, speaking, writing, and using and modifying language for different purposes in a range of different contexts. Students develop literacy skills as they learn to use language confidently to communicate inside and outside of school. Developing literacy skills is about more than just gaining knowledge – it is about students becoming effective learners who are confident and motivated to use their communication skills broadly. We’ve put together a list of fun ways to help your child develop literacy skills.
1. Read books
Reading is important for boys and it’s one of the most effective ways to develop literacy skills, but it’s important to make reading fun! For younger boys, books with rhyme, rhythm and repetition are more enjoyable. Examples of these books are Dr Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat or Meredith Costain’s Doodledum Dancing.
You should aim to read to your child every night. Identify the kind of books that your son enjoys reading, be it detective stories or fairy tales. Encourage your son to take the lead with reading. Every so often, pause reading and ask your son what he thinks will happen next in order to keep him engaged. Read our tips on encouraging a love of reading.
2. Play word games
Word games are great to help your son learn sounds. For example, with the game ‘I spy’ you can ask your son, “I spy with my little eye something begging with ‘B’. What do you think I’m looking at that starts with that sound?”
Games with rhyming words can also be fun. For example, ask your son to list as many words as he can that rhymes with “cat.” Our guide to literacy games for primary-aged children may be useful.
3. Have conversations
Another great way to help your son develop literacy skills is to converse with him. Ask open-ended questions when you talk. A good way to do this is to ask him about the past or the future – ask him to tell you about what he enjoyed at school that week or what he wants to do over the weekend.
4. Put on a play
Encourage your son to reimagine his favourite book by putting on a play or a puppet show. This is a great way to engage your son in storytelling and develop his story comprehension. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an extravagant production – keep the props and costumes simple, minimise rehearsal time by narrating the story yourself, but involve your son in pre-show activities that boost literacy skills, such as making tickets, putting together the programme and creating signs.
5. Use improvisation and role play
Have your son read a book aloud in different ways to demonstrate expression and intonation. You can take this a step further by having him improvise a scenario and explore how a character may feel about a situation in the story. Role play can positively impact a child’s development and is a fun way to improve a child’s awareness of how dialogue is spoken, improving his verbal skills.
6. Get children to copy the style of their favourite author
By the time children reach the age of six or seven, they may have already started to develop a preference for a particular author or genre. They will know the kind of books that they enjoy reading. Challenge them to write a story that resembles the style of their favourite genre or author.
7. Find a pen pal
Another fun way to develop a boy’s literacy skills is to find a pen pal to write to, whether in their home country or overseas. Exchanging letters with a pen pal is a great way to help get a boy excited about writing and encourage him to work on his basic skills.
8. Utilise technology
One of the many advantages children have today is access to learning technology. Through smartphone, tablets and websites children can learn and refine their skills with just a click of a button. The benefit of these technologies is that they use play, one of the most natural childhood impulses, to help kids improve their reading and writing skills. Vocabulary apps for early learners can help them to communicate and express themselves better. By engaging kids in more than one sense, games that leverage interactive learning systems give children creative space as well as structure, both of which foster learning.
9. Create a journal/blog
Having a boy start a journal or a blog can be a fun way to develop his literacy skills. Have him write regularly about anything he wants – about his favourite movie, his favourite food or his plans over the holiday.
For over a hundred years Trinity has educated boys in mind, body and spirit, and we are constantly evolving our teaching methods to ensure our boys receive the best education possible. Fuelled by a pastorally aware culture with exceptionally high levels of individual student attention, we aim to know, understand and nurture every student to help them realise their potential, passions and purpose in life.
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