Homework Connection

 Increase parent awareness about early literacy learning while fostering student development in reading, writing, speaking, and media literacy.

  1.     Promote reading daily.  Send home readers, texts aligned to phonics instruction (decodables), and familiar poems or song lyrics.  Children need a lot of exposure decoding words with familiar spelling patterns to increase automaticity.  Also, encourage parents to read books from home or the library to their children.  They are never too old to be read to and they are provided such a rich experience when they listen to stories that are beyond their reading level, but not beyond their comprehension level.   
  2.     Regularly provide homework that practices a reading comprehension strategy used in class*.  When working on the comprehension strategy of retelling, tell the children that after reading or listening to their book tonight, they must retell what the story was about to their parents.  When working on vocabulary, have the student and parent each pick out one interesting word from the text to discuss what it means, think of a familiar synonym for the word, or discuss if the spelling of the word was expected or not. 
  3.     For non-readers, you can remind them that there are still ways the children can interact with texts (try to read the words or point out familiar words, do a story walk of the pictures to predict what it is about, or retell a familiar story), (Boushey & Moser, 2006).  On library day, when the children may be taking home an unfamiliar or more challenging book, have them look through the pictures and talk about what might be happening.  Then the parents can read the story aloud and together they can have fun comparing the two versions. 
  4.      Foster conversations that will promote literacy and demonstrate what is being covered in the classroom*.  ‘Today we read the story Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts.  Tell your family how the book made you feel.’  Or, ‘During our assembly today we watched a skit created by the cycle three students about bullying.  Talk to somebody at home about the ideas you got from the skit.’  From grand moments like field trips to little incidents like a bee in the classroom (that initially seem like a huge disruption but could spark a writing workshop!)-  embrace them all and provide opportunities to talk about them.
  5.     Take (or draw) a picture of your favourite place to read (or write) at home*.  What do you like best about it?  Talk to your family about this special spot.  Write about your special place to share with the class.  We need students and parents to be more aware of the places they spend their time doing literacy activities; how those places make them feel and how well they can work in those places.
  6.     Share word study work in a fun way.  ‘This week we are learning about compound words.  With a parent, write a list of as many compound words that you can think of.  Practice reading those words.  Decide together your favourite word and circle it so that you can add it to our class list tomorrow.’  Or, ‘Find three objects in your house that start with the ‘br’ blend.  Draw a picture of the items and label them so you can add them to your ‘blends’ book.’ 
  7.      Explore media literacy at home.  ‘This week, take a walk or drive with an adult and notice the street signs, building signs, and advertisements.  Discuss which signs were new for you.  What do all these signs mean?  Which signs look most interesting?  Draw (or take a picture of) your favourite sign to share with the class.’ Turn screentime into homework – they’re going to watch it anyway!  ‘This week, pay attention to the commercials or pop up ads.  Discuss why these particular ads are present during your show?’  This kind of homework opens dialogue about issues families face daily.  It also encourages critical thinking and promotes media awareness.  Sometimes, in the younger years, parents may not think to discuss these issues with their children but it is important to start building media literacy and awareness early.

Boushey, Gail and Moser, Joan. 2006. The Daily 5:  Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Grades.  Portland, ME.  Stenhouse Publishers.  
*Ideas adapted from Kathy Collins at External link opens in new tab or windowwww.choiceliteracy.com/public/1669.cfm