Fun Literacy Activities

Allow me to get on my soapbox for a moment: literacy is extremely important.

I taught college composition for four years in graduate school and I saw first-hand how important literacy is to a student’s long-term college success. Students with high literacy and goal-oriented succeeded in the classroom, whereas students who struggled and did not take advantage of the opportunities provided for them inside and outside the classroom did not do as well.

Without going down the rabbit hole of the American educational system both past and present, I recognized that a student’s success correlated with their literacy levels. Those with high literacy knew when they struggled and came to me for help. Those with lower literacy levels tended to not recognize it or rejected any outside help I offered them. I had several students with lower literacy levels (or were afraid to reveal how literate they actually were) who sought extra help from me.

Those were always my favorite teaching success stories. They turned their failing grades into high passes. The look of accomplishment and pride they gave when meeting at the end of the semester informed me that they would find college would be less of a struggle now that they could apply what they learned in my classroom across the courses.

Seeing the importance of literacy informed how I would teach Jai as a parent and encourage him when he finally became a student. I want Jai to know how to work through a problem and to seek help when he gets stuck.

What is Literacy?

Originally it was defined as the ability to read and write effectively. But like all words, over time it’s expanded to include how we interact with language and information both in conversations and what we read. At its core, literacy is critically thinking through information presented to us and analyzing it to determine what to do with that information: accept as fact/opinion or rejecting it as misinformation.

Literacy is struggling to maintain relevancy, but there are ways to ensure it remains important in how we teach our children. It’s never too late to encourage literacy with a child, but because I have a toddler, I am going to focus on the fun activities that promote literacy between the ages of 12 months and 36 months.

There are plenty of resources available to promote literacy in early childhood for little ones beyond the toddler stage.

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Prepping for Pre-School

Jai is going to be two soon. I still can’t believe it.

What that means is that we have another year before we need to consider enrolling Jai in pre-school. The cultural narrative is if he isn’t already enrolled in a quality pre-school before being born, I might as well accept the fact that he’ll never get into college.

I exaggerate but I do have that fear.

Ash and I looked at a couple of local pre-schools but to the extent of checking out their programs online. We haven’t visited, we haven’t contacted them, we haven’t really discussed our options other than: should we?

For a person who likes to be on top of everything and stresses out when I’m not, this “lack of planning” is a new feeling for me. Part of me is concerned that I am not concerned and another part of me isn’t ready for the idea of sending Jai way for portions of the day to be under a stranger’s care.

I am torn between being more proactive or just waiting until I absolutely have to make the decision to enroll him, around age 4.

Jai may make that decision for me: if he isn’t ready developmentally to join pre-school before 4, then I don’t have anything to worry about other than getting him into a decent program¬†when he’s ready.

Right now, because I have a year to go before he can even be considered for pre-school, even part-time, I am not stressing too much. But I do need to start thinking about it because of applications, enrollments, and other deadlines that come up fast.

I also have to consider: what does he need to know before he steps into the classroom? And how can I, as a parent, work with his future teachers to provide him with all the tools he needs to get the most out of his education?

To be clear, this post isn’t about the first day of pre-school or finding a pre-school to send a little one. It’s about what I can do for Jai before I send him to pre-school so he’s prepared when the time comes. I will cross the bridge of the “do I send him at 3 or do I send him at 4” when I get to it.

This is something I can work on now.

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Rainy Days: Visiting the Library

I was lucky enough to live in a small, rural town growing up. There wasn’t a lot to do because of it, but it was perfect if you were a parent wanting a child to get creative with their entertainment.

In the summer, if I wanted to get away from the house, I had two choices: pool on the sunny days and library on the overcast/rainy days. Living in a valley in rural New England meant that there were plenty of days where I would have to go to the library as clouds got trapped by the mountains.

I loved my little library. Repurposed from an old Victorian farmhouse, the downstairs was filled with books, while the upstairs housed a creepy taxidermy collection and stored books meant for the summer book sale. The library was run by volunteers, so they were all older women who were either retired or looking to get away from their retired husbands.

This also meant it was extremely low-tech. I left my old town in 2008 and I believe they just got a computer for public use in 2005. I grew up knowing and loving the smell of a card catalog. The place was so tiny that I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t still use one because hunting through the cards or shelves might be faster than doing a computer search.

I loved my peach-colored, cardstock library card. It got so worn and frayed around the edges from use and lived with a place of honor in my wallet. It was the only card that actually did something, as most of the other cards were pretend or store loyalty cards.

Going to the children’s section, I knew where all my favorite books and series were located. I broke my visits down into two parts: the books I wanted to read there and books I wanted to take home with me.

I can’t remember the names of the series, but there were some short children’s books meant for teaching manners that had interesting artwork I read every time. They were super short so I would spend a half-hour reading through these books before moving on.

I was such a voracious reader as a child that I had to get two to three young adult books because I had a tendency to read a book a day. It was the reason why my parents encouraged me to go to the library when I was old enough: they could not afford to keep up with my reading habit. Book fairs, bookstores, all were a bane to my savings because I had to buy more books that I would finish in a couple of days.

The library was a wonderful way to save both my chore/odd job money and give me a sense of independence to go somewhere unsupervised.

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Blogs to Check Out this Summer

As a blogger, it’s important to read and support other bloggers out there, especially those in your area of interest.

In the summer, sometimes I love sitting down and flipping through a good blog while sipping lemonade and appreciating the AC. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite blogs that I follow relating to my areas of interest and beyond.

Please give these bloggers a read, they are worth adding to your “to read” list.

MS & Chronic Illness Blogs

Motherhood/Parenting Blogs

Inspiration Blogs

Fitness Blogs

Writing & Art Blogs

What are some of your favorite bloggers out there? I am always looking for more recommendations to add to my reading list. Leave a link to your blog (or someone else’s) in the comments.


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Featured photo credit: Canva