Reading is perhaps one of the most important skills for a child to learn. During the school year, teachers guide and encourage their students to read, and they open them up to the magical worlds that only reading can lead to.
So it’s important to continue to flex those skills, and keep kids open to those worlds over the summer too. There are countless traditional ways to promote literacy, from reading groups and worksheets, to e-books and other electronic activities but the summer provides an excellent time for parents to introduce other types of reading strategies that can help kids of all abilities achieve competent literacy.
One way to complement the reading instruction that happens during the school year is to consider using elements of Reggio Emilia learning methods. Reggio Emilia, also referred to as Reggio, is a child-based educational approach. Children are active participants in what they are learning and how they do so. In addition, the environment and materials are well thought out and used extensively throughout the day.
If this sounds a little overwhelming, don’t worry – we got you! It’s possible for parents to use Reggio-inspired activities to increase a child’s exposure to literacy-building concepts without having to redesign their home to look like a preschool. In fact, using just a few Reggio ideas can work well in virtually any home.
Indoor Reggio Activities
It’s no surprise that kids can become bored easily, so it may be a good idea to change up independent reading time with purposeful literacy immersion activities related to Reggio learning approaches.
Not sure where to start?
Here are a few easy Reggio-inspired ideas for promoting literacy to elementary-age kids at home:
#1 – Set up a literacy table
Use everyday items, like age-appropriate magazines, Scrabble tiles and/or letter magnets, comic books, construction paper, scissors, and pens and pencils. There’s a fantastic example of a set up like this at the One Perfect Day blog here (photo above).
Make a point to carve out independent reading time where your kid has the option to either:
- curl up with a book of their choice
- visit the table to flip through magazines, arrange letters into words, cut out letters to make sentences or short stories, etc.
The possibilities are endless, and kids can work at the table alone, with their siblings, or with friends on a playdate.
#2 – Incorporate reading with dramatic play
Don’t be afraid to get other moms involved, since this one can be more fun if there are more kids participating.
Provide a travel corner by displaying one-page maps of cities, countries, famous landmarks, etc. Add some menus, street sign printouts, and hotel amenity sheets.
Kids can rotate between reading time and visiting the travel corner where they can read the materials, plan a trip with a friend, etc. Exposure to reading the maps and menus is a fun literacy tool, plus the pretend play that the kids come up with during the activity provides an exciting alternative to quiet reading.
Outdoor Reggio Activities
Kids of all ages can benefit from purposeful literacy-building activities and materials both at school and home. Most parents already know to have books available for their children to read. Plus, lots of moms and dads realize that reading aloud to kids plays an enormously important role in developing solid reading skills.
So, when good habits like going to the library and reading at bedtime are already established, what are some additional Reggio ideas for promoting reading?
#1 Writing exercises
Kids are indoors for most of the school year, so the summer is the perfect time to take the learning outside.
Here are some simple exercises to start with. Ask them to write down the colors of three different flowers. Send kids on a letter hunt outside and have them write a few words that describe each place they saw the letter “a.” Rather than writing it in the traditional pencil and paper format, have your child choose from chalk, paint, markers, and even sand! Don’t be afraid to get messy! Even though these are writing exercises, reading is incorporated as well.
#2 – Worthwhile tablet time
In keeping with the Reggio principle of allowing a child’s inquiry to create a topic, send kids on an insect hunt outside. Once they see one, help them find an age-appropriate article about the bug on the internet.
Direct the kids to read it, and throw in some reading comprehension practice as well by asking for their interpretation of what was read. Remember to be flexible; if a child finds something he or she wants to learn about that is not a bug, it’s okay to change the plan.
During the school year, classroom time can be overrun with test prep, test taking, and other duties designed to make sure curriculum is being implemented and standards are being met. While those types of tasks are important for providing a meaningful education, giving your kids a break from that over the summer by adding complementary literacy activities can serve to better prepare them for the new school year and increase the value of classroom time.
Keep Reggio Emilia-inspired activities in mind by allowing kids to suggest topics that they want to read about, and provide materials that encourage letter recognition and sentence structure. Reading is an essential life skill, and it encourages imagination and creativity. By incorporating Reggio literacy activities at home, you’re given far more opportunities to expand your child’s world.
Holly Kline writes for the Elementary Education Degree blog where she shares her knowledge of educational policies and strategies to help aspiring and current teachers learn more about the field.
She enjoys working with educators and is currently involved in two public elementary school classrooms.