After hearing, over the years, “What things should I be doing with my child to get them ready for school?” I decided it was time to address this issue in support of those seeking answers. Following a review of literature and building upon the wisdom of Dr. Richard Allington – who reminds us that “far too many schools do not have strong linkage with early childhood education providers in their area…that far too many wait until the child is age eligible to begin kindergarten before they begin their work” (Allington, 2013 p.23). Thus, my quest to develop a protocol began.
The development of the Early Literacy Resource (ELR) is the result of this journey. The ELR is comprised of materials and resources that schools, teachers, or libraries can share with parents and families as they partner to strengthen the home-school connection and foster children’s literacy acquisition. Training for parents can be made available during community literacy nights, open houses, or parent/teacher nights.
Sharing The Early Literacy Resource (ELR)
It is suggested that the initial training provided for parents begin with a review of the increase/decrease chart (Fig 1). During this review, it is beneficial to afford parents the opportunity to note the many ways they are already supporting their children in (taking on) literacy. This first step can be accomplished by engaging the parents in a conversation about the literacy tasks on the list and identifying those with which the parents are familiar.
Now that the parents are getting more familiar with the literacy tasks on the list and have identified a few that are familiar. You will then provide parents an opportunity to engage in another conversation about the rich literacy tasks. While just having this conversation will be beneficial for your parents, it is important to set the initial goal for this conversation. Explain to the parents that they are now to review the list again, but this time they need to identify the tasks that they are unfamiliar with, or would like further clarification.
At this point you have developed some inquiry about unknown literacy tasks in the ELR. It is now important to take these eager parents back into the ELR in a small group setting. You will instruct the small groups to read the Literacy Tasks Defined section in the ELR and discuss the tasks that were unfamiliar or of interest to each of the members in the small group. As the groups engage in conversation it’s important to participate in the group conversations. Your participation is needed to help the groups think in different ways and clear up any misunderstandings that the parent groups may have with the tasks in the ELR.
Parents should now have an understanding of the tasks on the Increase/Decrease chart. The next step is to help the parents identify a literacy task for refinement. It’s important for parents to develop the understanding that as they look to refine (increase) one literacy task that they should look to the decrease side of the chart to find time for this.
General Comments To Share With Parents
- They should not try to make all of the changes on the list at once.
- The activities on Increase/Decrease (fig1) are not listed in any specific order, so they do not need to be completed as a list.
- If trouble arises during implementation of one of the activities parents should know that they can leave the new activity and attempt the activity later.
- It’s critical that parents understand that the more literary opportunities they provide to their child, the easier literacy acquisition will be for them during their schooling years.
DeWitt, P. (2013, Winter). The Road to Literacy Instruction: An interview with Richard Allington. Vanguard, 42, 20-27