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Parenting guide to literacy

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boy sitting on grass reading picture book

Children begin to develop the skills they need to become confident with language from a very young age. Early literacy skills include looking at books, following a story, making marks, recognizing printed writing and singing or saying rhymes.

Reading aloud to your child from an early age is the most effective way to help them expand their vocabulary and recognise written words.

Parents who foster a love of reading early on give their child the best foundation to build strong literacy skills.

Literacy skills are crucial throughout your child’s school years from early education through to secondary education and in to adulthood.

What you can do to develop your child's literacy skills

There are lots of ways you can help your child become a confident talker and reader.

Talk to your child as you are doing everyday things

Sing and say rhymes

Reading together

Use funny voices as you look through picture books

Make up stories about favourite teddies

Games with numbers and letters

Help them use writing and drawing materials

Encourage your child to make marks and shapes in sand or playdough

Join your local library

toddler drawing with crayons

Telling stories with young children

Telling stories with young children

A series of films made for the Economic and Social Research Council 2021 Festival of Social Sciences looking at storytelling techniques, the role of stories in young children's cultural identity, and how storytelling can be used to support  young children's learning.

Suggestions for parents

Babies and Young Children Love Stories

children enjoy cuddling together and the sound of your voice 

tell stories at any time - in the bath, the garden, the car, on the bus, at mealtimes or bedtime 

children can enjoy stories about things that happen in the family try including the names of family members, pets, your street name

to make your stories more personal tell stories in all the languages that your family uses at home. All languages are important in your child’s development.

children like to hear stories again and again

having favourite stories that they hear over and over builds their confidence to tell stories themselves and helps them me better readers as they get older

Everyone can tell stories

be playful! There are no ‘wrongs and rights’ – just make up your story or tell versions of
traditional tales

try out different voices for the characters in the story

ask your child who they want to be in the story, or what will happen, this helps children become part of the story telling and keeps them involved

repeat phrases or sounds – this helps children enjoy repeating sounds, words and phrases as they play with language

encourage children to make up their own sounds and words as they join in the telling

try making up a story about a favourite toy, a family event, going shopping, a pet

The more stories children hear - the more they learn

when you tell stories to your child, you are helping them to learn how stories work

storytelling helps children to understand that a story has a beginning and an end

as children learn and repeat parts of the story themselves, they too are becoming story tellers

children can enjoy talking about what happens next in a story, this develops their language

simple finger puppets or objects can be useful for children to act out a story

Parents can

create opportunities for telling stories whenever and wherever they have time

show recognition of what their children know and can do are they join in the story listening and telling

share spontaneous and planned interactions with their children around telling stories

be good models of story tellers – making up stories, telling traditional tales from many
cultures, using character voices, playing with words and sounds – to make storytelling fun

Everyone loves a good story

Some parents say they don’t feel confident telling stories without a book

Make a start, you’ll become more confident and you’ll find it’s something pleasurable to share with your child, which doesn’t cost anything at all

Stories are a really important part of children’s early learning, but above all, sharing the telling of a story can be a lovely way to spend time relaxing and having fun together!

How Every Child Can Thrive By Five

How to help children learn at home

Television and digital devices

There are lots of ways to help your child to learn such as reading together and make believe play. You can use what they have watched on TV or the internet to help their learning .

Talk with them about what they are watching on TV.

Use their favourite television characters in other games and activities

Digital devices such as a laptop, desktop, tablet or smartphone can help some children learn.

Download some apps that will help children learn if your child does use them.

Set age appropriate parental controls on any devices young children are using and supervise their use of websites and apps. Seek advice on being safe on line

Try sharing things your child makes with your friends and family online and encourage others to do the same. Your child might enjoy seeing things they have made on the
screen or seeing what other children have done.

Cbeebies Keeping Safe Online

NSPCC Children's online safety

Hungry Little Minds Black Country

Many little things light up hungry little minds. Kids take everything in,and even the smallest things you do with them can make a big difference.

They love it when you chat, play and read with them, even when they’re
too young to understand everything. Whatever the time and wherever you
are, you can turn almost anything into a game.

And every little thing you do together will help set them up nicely for the day they start school.

Hungry Little Minds has lots of activities and resources to help parents.

Hungry Little Minds Black Country

Hungry Little Minds


chat play read

Support for multilingual families at home

Parents and children chatting together, singing songs and sharing books in their home language is a fantastic way to support children's development at this time.

The National Literacy Trust Time Together booklet is a colourful and easy-to-read guide that is full of suggestions for how parents can support their young child's learning at home. It has been translated into thirteen different languages and is available for parents and professionals to download

Download the appropriate translated booklet 

email for further help with literacy

Useful Links and Resources

Literacy in Early Years 

useful resources for parents and professionals to develop literacy

Look Say Sing Play 

fun and easy tips to use with your baby

BBC Tiny Happy People

lots of activities and play ideas to boost communication skills

Book Trust

is packed full of activities,books and games. Loads of inspiration for young readers and lots of resources to make storytime fun.

Book Trust Book Finder 

lots of story time ideas

Words for Life

has lots of activities and ideas to help your child develop literacy and communication skills. Help your child become a confident talker and learner and get loads of inspiration for fun things to do with your child.

Literacy Trust

has lots of activities,free resources,parent support and the virtual school library

Early Years Resources for Parents and Professionals

has ideas to support 2-4 year old's communication skills.Fun and friendly guides, designed for parents, carers and the whole family. 

The Communication Trust

Communication resources for parents