Help Parents Promote Independent Reading and Writing at Home


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In a Daily 5 classroom, students are members of a vibrant learning community. They learn in authentic ways by participating in Read to Self, Work on Writing, Read to Someone, Listen to Reading, and Word Work. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for families to re-create this same type of creative and fun learning community at home? Well, they can!

Since choice is so important, parents and children can choose among these literacy activities for home fun. If parents seek out options for meaningful homework that enhances family time, teachers can offer these easy-to-implement options. They can keep these ideas handy to share at an open house, literacy night, or parent-teacher conferences, or even include some in a classroom newsletter.

Here are some ideas for family-friendly ways that parents can make authentic learning experiences part of their children’s home lives.

Home Fun That Promotes Independent Reading

Parents can use these ideas to foster children’s interest in independent reading:

  1.  Find out what kinds of books their children like to read.
  2.  Plan a weekly trip to the public library for the whole family.
  3. Obtain individual public library cards for each family member.
  4.  Learn about the I-PICK method to help children choose good-fit books (Boushey & Moser, 2014).
  5. Subscribe to a children’s magazine to share as a family.
  6. Establish a family togetherness time to encourage nightly reading.
  7. Model interest in literacy by reading side by side with children.
  8. Talk about well-loved books that they enjoyed as youngsters.
  9.  Help youngsters research nonfiction topics that interest them.
  10. Have children read about places that the family might visit.

Home Fun That Promotes Writing

Parents can use these ideas to encourage children to write at home:

  1. Set up a writing table with a variety of pencils, markers, and papers.
  2. Ask children to help create a weekly or monthly family newsletter.
  3. Have children write lists for upcoming visits to the grocery store.
  4. Help youngsters create stories or books about family experiences.
  5.  Place a note in children’s lunchboxes or backpacks, and invite them to respond.
  6. Give children a clipboard and pencil and send them on a word hunt around the house.
  7. Involve children in writing a nightly message such as “Today we had pasta for dinner.”
  8. Take photos of a family activity and ask children to write about the pictures.
  9. Interest children in meteorology and ask them to write about the weather each day.
  10. Encourage children to write letters and cards to grandparents and other relatives.

Home Fun That Promotes Read to Someone

Parents can use these ideas to give children the opportunity to read to someone at home:

  1. Act as individual reading partners for their children.
  2. Encourage siblings to have fun reading to each other.
  3. Invite visitors to be Read to Someone partners with children.
  4. Take turns reading the frames of a newspaper comic strip with their children.
  5. Learn about and attend special events such as Read to the Dog at the library.
  6. Arrange for children to tape-record themselves reading a favorite story.
  7. Gather books of jokes and riddles for children to read to family members.
  8. Have children read recipes out loud during meal preparation or baking.
  9. Participate in a family reader’s theater performance with their children.
  10. Ask their children to read them a bedtime story for a fun role reversal.

Home Fun That Promotes Listen to Reading

Parents can use these ideas to give children the opportunity to listen to reading:

  1. Schedule a nightly read-aloud of a child-selected bedtime story.
  2. Have children’s books on tape available for longer car rides.             
  3. Set up a corner of the house with a tape recorder and books on tape.
  4. Tape-record nursery rhymes or poems for children to read along with.
  5. Invite a mystery reader (relative, neighbor, or babysitter) to share a story.
  6. Find out how to download children’s e-books from the local library.
  7. Invite children to follow along with song lyrics as they listen to music.
  8. Register children for weekly story time sessions at the local library.
  9. Use different character voices as they read children their favorite stories.
  10. Plan a poetry night and read fun poems aloud to their girls and boys.

Home Fun That Promotes Word Work

Parents can use the following ideas to give children the opportunity to do word work at home:

  1. Make a simple word work area at home with shells, beads, clay, and magnetic letters.
  2.  Ask students to write messages to family members using word work materials.
  3.  Invite children to collect interesting words on a home word wall.
  4. Have students use magnetic letters on any metal surface to write their names, words, sentences, and more.
  5. Have fun with interesting words by doing a children’s crossword puzzle together as a family.
  6. On a regular basis, play popular word games that help children expand their vocabulary.
  7. Challenge children to find certain types of words (compounds, words with a certain prefix or suffix, and so on) in a newspaper or a magazine.
  8. Look up an unknown word in a print dictionary or show how to find the definition in an online dictionary.
  9. Write an interesting word for each day of the month on the family calendar; encourage children to use the featured word in speaking or writing on that day.
  10. Keep a jar of overused words written on slips of paper; pull one out and encourage children to substitute more interesting words for it. For example, children could make substitutions for overused words such as nice, said, good, and went.


Boushey, G., & Moser, J. (2014). The daily 5 (2nd ed.). Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

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