Teaching Children Basic Literacy: the Responsibility of Parents or Preschool Educators?
As COVID restrictions loosen, more and more schools open their classrooms once again for the students. Schools in Britain welcome a new batch of children on their first day of school. Since the return of the regular school year, debates on the responsibility of parents in providing basic literacy to their children also arise: is teaching basic literacy, such as reading and writing the responsibility of parents of early education providers?
The recent pandemic has forced schools to close and children to stay at home, placing the responsibility of supporting children in their early education primarily on the parents. Although these schools have shifted to online learning, it’s undeniable that parents play a crucial role in ensuring the children absorb all the lessons by giving follow-up discussions at home, and one-on-one parent-and-child learning.
This summer alone, nearly one-third of students failed to pass the GCSE English exam. It’s quite alarming that too many children already fall behind their classmates even before they start school. At the start of 2021, a study conducted by the National Literacy Trust found that 50% of the children who started school are not school-ready.
Limited school readiness impacts the whole classroom, not just the child. In fact, limited school readiness slow down the productivity of teachers and teaching aids when they help assist and support children who have who barely even know how to hold a pencil. Children who are less school-ready struggle to keep up with their school-ready peers, and some will never be able to catch up.
Teaching Children Basic Literacy: What You Can Do At Home
Cognitive, social, and emotional development are all essential ingredients of school readiness, all of these are achieved when the child develops a reading habit! Reading is basic literacy, it applies to almost everything that you do. When crossing the road, you read signs, when doing your grocery you read signs and labels, an average person cannot go through a day without reading.
Reading provides your child with many literacy benefits. It develops their vocabulary which is the foundation of good reading comprehension. Regular bedtime reading with your child helps get them ready for formal literacy education. Language and emerging literacy have been proven to be most strongly influenced by parental involvement in their child’s reading (Bus, van Ijzendoorn & Pellegrini, 1995).
Parents who read to their children from an early age give them an advantage over their peers in elementary school and a head start in the classroom (Wade & Moore, 2000). When children get used to reading, they will most likely read for pleasure without being forced to read when they grow up. Choose the right books for your child, books with personalised elements are proven to improve reading comprehension in children. When the book feels personal and relatable, children get more engaged in it.
Participation in reading activities at home offers enormous benefits for reading achievement, language comprehension, and expressive language abilities (Gest, Freeman, Domitrovich & Welsh, 2004). When children establish a love for reading at home, they are more prepared to start school and are able to understand their lessons better.
Teaching basic literacy to a child is a joint effort of the parents and early education providers. Parents should understand that literacy starts at home, not in school. The knowledge that your child acquires in school only adds to what they initially learned at home. It’s important to raise awareness in parents that teaching basic literacy is a parental responsibility. The children are the ones who suffer when they are less equipped to start school, and it affects them long-term. Children who are not school-ready struggle to catch up with the lessons, they are less likely to achieve good grades in school and have a lower chance of getting higher-paying jobs.
Give your child the advantage in school and in life, start by building a love for reading.