Keeping kids literate without books
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Many parents will find their money stretched too tightly this summer to buy books for children. There is something parents can do to keep and improve the level of literacy for their children from grade two upwards, and it does not come with 16.5 per cent tax!
If you go to a library or go online yourself, look for 'BLOOM'S TAXONOMY'. This is a series of six lists of words in ascending order of difficulty and complication. They are aimed at helping students talk about higher-order thinking skills, such as remembering, understanding, applying, analysing, evaluating and critically thinking.
Teachers are often trained to look for these words when judging the level of thinking their students can demonstrate. Ask the librarian to print a copy of the TAXONOMY for you.
What should you do with these lists? Use the words, yourself, as you can, starting with the first list, and get the kids to make (and write) a sentence using the ones you choose. Look in the newspaper and hunt for these important words that show thinking skills. Make up stories that use the words. Use a dictionary 10 minutes a day with your child to find the meanings of some of the words. Ask your pastor to use some of the higher-level words each Sunday.
Target word game
Give a prize, ice cream or a cold drink to the child who finds these words on television or in supermarket ads. Take one target word, like 'IMPROVE' or 'STRUCTURE', and have everyone in the house make a game of using the target word as many times in a day as possible. Keep a list of the words you have 'hammered' over the summer. These activities may not be normal in your home, but these are not normal times.
Do not worry about spelling, if your child is troubled by it; speaking, seeing and hearing the words also do foster learning. When you do any work with words, you prove to the child you care about their learning.
Of course, it is easier to buy books, if you can. However, using the above strategy will keep literacy on the brain and will give the children a better chance of keeping and growing their literacy skills over the summer.
Aunts and uncles, grandparents, parents, older cousins, everyone can help our children learn with love. Choose some high-value words (tax-free) and stick with them. Over the summer you can do a lot to support better reading and writing without paying so much. The rewards are guaranteed.