SOURCE: Save the Children

Save the Children

September 08, 2010 11:56 ET

Save the Children: Ten Tips for Parents to Help Children Learn to Read Outside of the Classroom

On International Literacy Day, Save the Children Shares Simple Steps All Parents Can Take to Boost Children's Reading Skills

WESTPORT, CT--(Marketwire - September 8, 2010) -  To mark International Literacy Day and promote reading among children globally, Save the Children today shares 10 steps all parents can take to boost early reading skills among their children. The ten tips are part of a community strategies flipbook for parents and children that Save the Children developed for its global "Literacy Boost" program.

"Learning how to read should not be confined to the classroom," said Amy Jo Dowd, Education Research Advisor for Save the Children. "There are many fun ways that parents, community members and even children can support other children in developing language and literacy skills as part of their daily life."

Save the Children research from 2007 to 2008 found that children in developing countries were struggling to learn to read, even in classrooms that were child-friendly and in which the teachers used an active teaching and learning method. For example, 36 percent of the third graders tested in Ethiopia could not read one word correctly in a minute. In Nepal, that percentage was nearly 50 percent of the school-age children tested.

Alarmed by these findings, Save the Children developed an innovative program called "Literacy Boost," which engages the broader community -- from teachers, students, parents and community members -- in helping young children learn how to read both inside and outside the classroom.

Some of the results from Save the Children's Literacy Boost program will be highlighted in a report on early reading issued today by the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution.

Ten Tips to Boost Reading and Make Learning to Read Fun

  1. Tell a story to a child. Then discuss the people, places and events in it. Do it more than once if you can, and ask the child to help you retell the story.
  2. Promote reading while feeding your family. Ask your child to name the ingredients, count them, sort them by size, by color, by first sounds and more!
  3. Sing a song together. Songs have rhymes, meter and great words that are important for children to learn.
  4. Promote reading while shopping. Make a shopping list together, and read back from the list as you shop. At the market, ask your child to point to items that start with a particular sound.
  5. Tell your child about the steps in your daily work or chores. Talking about ordinary daily routines -- like washing dishes, or making the bed -- can introduce new words and be a rich language experience for your child.
  6. Read a book to your child. Help them learn to turn the pages of the book, teach them which is the front and which is the back of the book.
  7. Make reading materials. Create a simple book of five to six pages, with a picture on each page and a few words of text.
  8. Read aloud labels on packaged food or items at home. Ask children to point out words that begin with a certain letter, or ask them to rhyme words in the text.
  9. Read and describe signs. Ask your child: What letters are in it? What color is it?
  10. Choose a letter of the day. In a central place, draw a letter of the day on a piece of paper or in chalk on the wall.

"In many of the poorest pockets of the globe where Save the Children works, many adults do not know how to read or write," said Dowd. "But even parents with little or no schooling can take steps to improve their child's vocabulary, build their knowledge of letters and numbers and lay a foundation for a lifelong love of reading."

Literacy Boost is aimed at supporting young readers -- children in grades one to four -- through reading assessments, teacher training and community engagement. Community engagement activities involve parents, book banks and materials creation (including local story books), and extracurricular reading activities for children such as reading camps and reading buddies.

Save the Children has Literacy Boost programs in Malawi, Mali, Nepal and Pakistan and is rolling out the program this year to Ethiopia, the Philippines and Uganda. Save the Children programs in Haiti and Mozambique also use components of the "Literacy Boost" program.

To read a complete copy of the community flipbook, go here. The flipbook also is available in Spanish and French.

Save the Children is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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