Few things are as critical to a
child’s educational success as a firm grasp on language and literacy skills.
The ability to communicate effectively crosses over into every area of study
your child will embark upon in their lifetime. This fact alone makes these
skills crucial to their future ability to grasp complex subjects.
Importance of Language and Literacy Skills
Being proficient in one or more languages
has unparalleled benefits that will be seen across the board in your child’s
education. Since language is the basis for all teaching efforts (and also the key
to communicating effectively overall), it’s understandable why it’s such an
important skill to hone.
The importance of language and
literacy skills go well beyond the communication aspect, however. Students who
focus on deepening their language base will find themselves gaining
proficiencies in their other studies as well.
According to the American Council
on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), students who excel in
language and literacy show:
- Greater test scores on standard tests
- Higher levels of focus and understanding
- Increased ability to grasp scientific hypotheses
- Higher ACT and SAT scores
- Greater problem-solving capabilities
These are just a few of the ways
in which language and linguistics will lend to the greater overall educational
success of your child. Since language development requires children to hone
their focusing skills, they will then be able to apply the same level of focus
to their other studies.
Whether your child is focusing
on one language or multilingual studies, they will have set coursework within
their classroom. It’s certainly no surprise that teachers have lesson plans for
their students, but you may be surprised to learn how much things have changed since
your days in the classroom.
Evidence has shown students respond
well to teaching methods that incorporate several different learning aids. Some
of these include items that can be used as visual props while others could use
online programs and themed learning (animal week, gardening week, etc.).
to language learning in the classroom, however, is a focus on interactive conversational
opportunities. It’s less about learning grammar rules and more about learning
to actually communicate.
“The primary purpose of language is communication – grammar is important, but there’s a bigger picture. Language is no longer seen as being learned through mechanical exercises, it’s developed through students interacting and engaging,” explains Huw Jarvis, a professor at the University of Salford’s School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science.
According to Jarvis, motivation
is the most critical component to driving a student’s interest in language
learning. Since students
tend to learn faster through immersion in situations which require them to find
ways to communicate, allowing them to choose their own medium gives way to a
greater desire to learn.
a Desire to Learn at Home
In order to truly give your
child the full-on immersion experience, it’s critical to continue the language
and literacy learning experience outside of the classroom as well. Most parents
understand that a child’s educational success is a multi-faceted experience
that involves both home life and school life.
So how do we go about providing
our children with enriching language learning experiences at home? Engage them
and motivate them – it’s as simple (or as complex) as that.
“The best method is the method you like… Languages cannot be taught, they can only be learned,” explains Language Consultant, Luca Lampariello.
Finding out what motivates your
child to learn at home involves a basic trial and error process. Unless you’ve
already figured out how to motivate your child (and if so, kudos!), you may
need to engage in some simple activities with them to see what they like. Find
out what drives them to want to learn more.
Out What Motivates Your Child
One of the simplest ways you can
help your child nurture a desire to learn and excel with language and literacy
is by different communicative experiences at home. Talk to them. Sing to them.
Create stories with them involved. Allow your child to “read” you a story by telling
you what’s going on in the sequential pictures. There are endless ways to involve
them in language learning at home.
The National Center on Improving
Literacy explains that by simple daily communication efforts at home, parents
can help their child improve their language learning immensely. Daily
communications can be as simple as a pointed discussion about their day (asking
specific questions to get them to think and give detailed answers), or as thorough
as labeling items at home for a language visual.
“Engage in joint reading, drawing, singing, storytelling, reciting, game playing, and rhyming. When joint reading, you and your child take turns reading parts of a book. When reading, ask her to connect the story… Give positive feedback and ask open-ended questions during joint reading to boost her interest and critical thinking skills.” – ImprovingLiteracy.org
By including daily language
activities such as reading and storytelling, you’ll gain insight into what interests
your child the most. Find stories that inspire them and pique their curiosity –
this will help give them a stronger drive to learn more. Asking pointed
questions on the topic will encourage them to focus on the task and go deeper
for a greater understanding. No matter the topic, that will give way to an
overall improved language and literacy experience.
More Complete Learning Experience
If you want to apply a more
direct learning approach at home, speak with your child’s teacher to discuss
what methods are utilized in the classroom. Educators are usually more than
willing to speak with parents about their teaching methods and how they can be
enhanced at home.
You can also take a closer look
in their bookbags to gain some insight into what they’re focusing on in the
classroom. If you see they have a themed week at school, try continuing the
theme at home. As examples, if they have a color theme for a week, use corresponding
color foods in dinner plans, colored bath water, or planned outfits for school to
bring up topics later.
They key to continuing language
and literacy learning at home is to simply communicate. Communicate with your
children about their days or share a good story with them. Communicate with
their teachers to learn any tips or subject ideas to coordinate home
learning themes and techniques with classroom learning. Above all, the most
important thing you can do to help your child develop their language skills is to
continue to engage them in communication. Talk with your kids and talk often – it’s