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Top Tips from I CAN for International Literacy Day

Speech, language and literacy are linked – fact. This is because to develop good literacy skills, you need to be able to speak and understand language. If you can’t say it or understand it, you won’t be able to read it or write it.

Thursday 8th September is International Literacy Day – a day which celebrates the efforts and progress made to improve literacy rates around the world. This year’s theme is ‘Reading the Past, Writing the Future’. Good early language skills are key for successful literacy development. We at I CAN, the children’s communication charity, are working hard to ensure that parents, families, carers and professionals have the resources and information they need to champion early language and literacy in the home and throughout schools nationwide. Establishing routines which nurture the development of children’s literacy skills from the very beginning is important for giving children the best start in life. This can begin even before children are born. In celebration of International Literacy Day, The National Literacy Trust launched a campaign to encourage mums-to-be to read, talk and sing to their pregnancy bumps in light of research that reveals language learning begins in the womb.

With the right support we can get all children and young people reading and writing well. Take a look at I CAN’s top tips for using speech and language to support literacy skills:

  • Pay attention and concentrate

Listening to other people reading and telling stories will help children with their later literacy skills. Why not tell stories with children together – talking about your day and what you did is interactive and listening to these experiences can help your child develop the language skills they need later to become a reader and a writer of stories.

  • Speak up!

You need to understand a good range of words to help with reading and writing. A good vocabulary is important to be able to understand what you have read and to produce a good piece of writing. Encourage children to have a guess at what different words might mean and to ask for help if certain words aren’t clear.  Help them to learn new words and tell your child the name for anything they don’t know.

  • Break it down

To be good readers children need an understanding of what they hear and read in sentences. This includes things like the processing of longer pieces of information and an understanding of grammatical information such as past tense and plurals. Ask questions to ensure children understand what they are reading and listening to.

  • Crack the code

Reading involves cracking a code and part of this code involves understanding the sounds that words are made up of. This may be understanding what sound a word begins with or knowing or saying words that rhyme. The way children actually say the sounds in words may affect how they are able to make sense of what they are reading.

  • Story time

To be a good reader, it’s important to be able to understand and tell stories as this helps to make sense of what you are reading. The ability to make inferences, understand story structure, and understand what is happening in stories really makes a difference to reading comprehension.  Have toys that relate to books for example the Gruffalo or Spot the Dog – children can then act out stories using these as characters. This will help them to learn stories based on what they’ve read and heard.

  • Keep talking

Whilst you are reading with children be sure to talk about the things you see in the book – who’s in it, what they did and where they went. When learning to read, pictures can be just as important as the words. Help children to work out what the story is about or what a word might say using the pictures. But don’t ask too many questions – make comments and observations.

If you’d like some more information about children’s language development, or are concerned at all about your child’s talking, I CAN’s enquiry service can give you advice and information. Call now to book a free call back from one of our speech and language therapists.

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