Elawr booklet final

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Right from the Start

Tips to Raise a Reader

Early Literacy Alliance of Waterloo Region future. Partnering for early literacy. Ensuring a stronger strong future.

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Did you know...

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Talking with your young child will help them learn to read?


Singing to your child leads to sounding out words when you read?

Holding small things like blocks and sticks can lead to writing?

Playing dress-up can lead to reading?

When you read together you build a bond with your child? Children with strong early literacy skills are more likely to have success in school and in life?

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Talk Chat with your child throughout the day. Your child will learn lots of new words. Tips:

• What does your child find interesting? Respond to what they say or do to keep the conversation going. • Use lots of words to build your child’s vocabulary. Describe objects (colours, size, shapes), actions (jump, run, laugh) and feelings (happy, excited, surprised). • Help children understand storytelling. Encourage them to tell their own stories.

Try This!

While in the grocery store, talk about the apples you will buy and what you will do with them. Describe the apples using words like “large, small, round, red, green” and how they might taste like “juicy, sour, sweet.” Guess how many will fit in your bag. Then, talk about what you will do with them at home. “First we will wash them, then peel, cut and cook them to make some applesauce. When the applesauce has cooled, we will spread it on pancakes and eat it.”

Experts Say:

A child’s vocabulary by age three is a good indicator of their future success in vocabulary, language development, and reading comprehension. (http://centerforeducation.rice.edu/slc/ LS/30MillionWordGap.html)

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Sing and have fun! Our brains respond to music even before we are born. Singing and rhyming bring a natural awareness of sounds.

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• Sing throughout the day. Be face-to-face. • Chant a nursery rhyme, hum a lullaby and sing your family’s traditional folk songs. • Sing songs and use actions. Play Pat-a-Cake, tap a beat, or dance around the room.

• Make up songs, or sing familiar songs like “Wheels on the Bus” using family members’ names. Remember your pets!

Try This! Sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” Change the words Sing “twinkle, twinkle, brilliant star” or “twinkle, twinkle, flashing star” Change your voice Sing about a great big star in a big voice. Sing about a silent star in a quiet voice. Stress the rhyming words Twinkle, twinkle, little STAR, how I wonder what you ARE?


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Experts Say:

Lullabies, songs, and rhymes prepare a child’s ear, voice and brain for language. (The Genius of Natural Childhood, by Sally Goddard Blythe, 2011, Hawthorn Press)

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Write Help your child scribble, draw, and make letters to practice writing. Tips:

• Picking up small objects and learning to use scissors helps your child’s hand muscles get ready to hold a pencil. • Have fun while playing with letters and numbers: write with a stick in the sand, use wooden blocks or magnets, and make letters with play dough and sidewalk chalk. • Make writing a part of daily life. Children can help write grocery lists and create birthday cards and invitations.

Try This!

While you’re cooking dinner, invite your child to play with magnetic letters and numbers on the fridge. Ask a questions like, “Can you find the first letter of your name?” Say, “Show me how you would trace it with your finger.”

Experts Say:

A toddler’s markings with pencils and crayons are the beginning of the writing journey. (http://www.theroadmap.ualberta.ca/spellings/parents/25-36)

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Take time to play with your child! Have fun taking turns and solving problems together.

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• Play ball! Roll a ball back and forth or play catch to help your child learn about taking turns. Talk about what you are doing.

• Watch to see what interests your child and join them. Ask questions and give them new words to help them learn while they play.

• Play “make believe” to spark your child’s imagination and help your child tell stories. A box becomes a castle, a blanket becomes a fort and a pot becomes a drum.

Try This!

Do a puzzle or build a block tower together. You could say, “I wonder if the big block or the small block will fit on the top? Why?” Help your child use new words and math ideas while you play. Talk about different shapes and sizes, make patterns, and count what’s around you.


Experts Say:

Children’s brains develop through exploration, thinking skills, problem solving, and language expressions that occur during play. (Council of Ministers of Education Canada’s Statement on Play-Based Learning http://www.cmec.ca/Publications/Lists/Publications/Attachments/282/ play-based-learning_statement_EN.pdf, 2012)

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Read Read with your child every day. Show them that it is fun to read and talk about books. They will learn about letters, words, and sentences early in life. Tips:

• Make story time part of every day. Your local library has lots of books to borrow. Make a trip to the library a fun activity. • Words and numbers are everywhere! Find them on the bus, at a store, and on the street.

• Look at the cover and pictures of the book; try to guess what the book is about before you begin reading. Ask your child questions as you read and listen to their answers.

Try This!

Look for words at the breakfast table. “Let’s look at this cereal box. Can we find the first letter of your name on the box? Let’s see how many times you can find an x on this box.”

Experts Say:

Reading aloud in the early years exposes children to story knowledge, print knowledge, and rare words and ideas not often found in day-to-day conversations or screen time. Reading also gives children listening practice. (http://www.reachoutandread.org/ why-wework/)

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Literacy is everywhere Check out elawr.org for information and organizations offering resources, family events and programs in Waterloo Region.




Keep in touch and up to date. Share your thoughts and feedback about literacy on social media.


Pa Early Literacy Alliance of Waterloo Region Partnering for early literacy. Ensuring a stronger future.

ELAWR members represent more than 20 organizations in Waterloo Region. Partnering for early literacy. Ensuring a strong future.


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