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Massachusetts Family Literacy Consortium (MFLC)

The Role of the Parent in Family Literacy

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Parents are a child's first and most influential teachers. Family literacy stresses the word "family," as family members are essential in supporting learning at home, at school, and in the community.

Parents play specific roles in children's literacy development:

  • creating a literacy-rich environment

  • sharing reading and writing activities

  • acting as reading models

  • demonstrating attitudes toward education

A strong educational environment at home can be a major factor in reinforcing the home-school connection.

Read to Your Child

As parents, you should know that shared learning and reading experiences are valuable gifts you can give your child. Reading is a key learning skill that will enable your child to become proficient in other areas. Reading aloud can also help your child become a better listener.

Reading doesn't take a lot of time, either. As a parent, finding the time to read to or with your child is not always easy. However, it is an investment that pays off in big dividends! Research shows that children who spend as little as 30 minutes a day reading books, magazines and newspapers are more likely to become good readers.

Raising a Reader: Getting Started

These easy-to-do activities are designed to build a solid foundation of family literacy at home.

  • Know your children. Before selecting books, make sure you know your child's reading abilities and interests. Your school's teacher or reading specialist can assess your child's ability. Your child's teacher or school/town librarian can make recommendations on age-appropriate books.

  • Set aside time for reading. Designate a time of day when family members can read for pleasure. Make reading a part of your family routine.

  • Make reading special.Children should feel as if having a book is special. Help them create a space for storing their books. However, if your child doesn't show an interest or strong ability in reading, be patient, but don't give up. Reading should be viewed as an enjoyable activity.

  • Use your local library. One of the best resources you will have as a parent is access to your community's library. It costs nothing to borrow books. Many libraries also offer story hours and other fun literacy activities. Make visits to your library a routine activity.

  • Limit television time. Monitor program selection for your children. Discuss programs with them. Have a "NO-TV" night with your family on a regular basis. Read magazines, write letters to relatives living far away, or play charades or Scrabble as a refreshing alternative.

Some ideas adapted from Creating Young Readers, by Stephanie Loer, Children's Book Reviewer for the Sunday Learning Section of The Boston Globe. Used with permission from Stephanie Loer.

Last Updated: February 6, 2013

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