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Parents as Partners:

Helping Your Child Learn to Read and Write


Give your child the gift of a lifelong love of writing and reading because
you are the most important teacher your child will ever have.

Helping your child learn to read and write:

  • Sing, talk, and read with your child throughout the day — build the oral language that will support them as good readers, writers and speakers.
  • Memorize many nursery rhymes, poems, songs, chants, and story excerpts. The child who enters school knowing at least 100 of these wonderful expressions has a lifelong educational advantage.
  • Write with your child — let them see you writing cards, grocery lists and notes. Talk out loud about what you are doing and show the child that writing is an important part of your life and that it brings you pleasure.
Writing teaches reading and reading teaches writing.


  • Encourage your child to write his name. Practice doing it together. Soon he will also learn to write “I love you.” Show your pleasure in his writing development.


Make sure your child is enjoying any learning activity. Stop if your child is
frustrated or seems disinterested. Keep the desire to learn and family joy strong.

  • Celebrate and encourage your child’s “kid writing.” You will be amazed at how they develop their control of phonetic spellings and how quickly they learn high-frequency words. (We call these “by heart” words.)
  • Help your child send cards and notes to friends. Find an “auntie” or neighbor who will send real letters to your child through the mail.
  • Gather your child’s writing and art into memory books. Talk about your child as an author and illustrator. (An 8.5” x 11” notebook with clear plastic sheet protectors or magnetic pages is an easy way to organize writing and art and document growth.)
  • Encourage your child to be a storyteller. Keep a clipboard handy to write down your child’s stories or descriptions of experiences. Put a date on them. Read them back to your child. Encourage your child to draw pictures and to illustrate their story.
  • Encourage your child to develop their art and small muscle skills by drawing, using play dough, building with small toys and learning American Sign Language. If possible, build or purchase an easel so the child can use large movements to paint or draw.
  • Help your child make labels for things in your home. Make a name sign, which the child decorates, for his room.
  • Write dinner menus, telephone messages, and keep photo journals of family trips. Read them with your child.
  • Eat dinner together — talk about favorite books or things you’ve read. Make it a family tradition that after dinnertime is your “family learning together time.”
  • Keep a personal journal of thoughts and reflections. Give your child a blank book journal to write in. Ask if they would like to read their journal to you and have you respond.
  • Teach your child the ABC Sign Language and Phonics Song and engage them in games signing and naming letters and sounds. (Magnetic letters can go on the refrigerator or on a metal cookie sheet.)
  • Make folded Little Books for your child to write in.
  • Fingerpaint letters and words on trays using shaving cream or chocolate pudding. Make shapes in cornmeal or saltboxes.
  • Look for letters and familiar signs and labels while going for walks in the neighborhood (stop sign), driving in the car (McDonald’s), or eating breakfast (Cheerios).
  • Have a message center in your kitchen on a bulletin board or the refrigerator where you leave notes for your child and where your child leaves notes and pieces of art. Read these together. (Remember, scribbles and drawings are children’s first writing.)
  • Read, read, read to your child every day — throughout the day. Snuggle in bed with books at night. Read favorite predictable books over and over again until your child has memorized and can “magically read” the entire book. Read beautiful and delightful picture books over and over until you have memorized the entire book. Read information picture books to expand your child’s world. Read the Bible, read Shakespeare, read poetry, read things that you cherish. Hug books and hug your child. Soon your child will be reading to you.


Keep your special learning times joyful, positive and relaxed.
Remember you are building a lifelong love for reading and writing and learning.

Permission granted for teachers to make multipe copies for families with credits noted.
A Nellie Edge Parent Information Letter © 2005.