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Using the post-Christmas Holidays to Help Your Child's Reading

Improve Literacy Newsletter

10 January 2008 -- Issue 1

In this issue:

1. Using the post-Christmas Holidays to Help Your Child's Reading
2. Send us your tips!
3. Our recommended reading and child literacy websites

Hi everyone!

We hope you had a fantastic Christmas break, and wish you a happy new year for 2008.

This is our first Improve Literacy newsletter and, since the festive season has now passed, we have put together a few tips and ideas on how to use the post-Christmas period to help your child's reading skills. Now that the mad Christmas rush is over, the early New Year is a great time to relax a little and spend some quality time with your child.

A child is a captive audience at this time of year. The Christmas period is a great time to tap into your child's enthusiasm and excitement. Keep in mind that children learn best when they are having fun, and you can use this time of year to great benefit.

 1. Using the post-Xmas Holidays to help your child's reading

If your child was given books as a Christmas present, now is a good time to take the time to sit down and read with her. Also, get your child to read to you. A good idea is to get into the routine of reading with your child once a day. It doesn't have to be for long. Reading together for just 10 minutes each day can be extremely beneficial to her literacy skills. Your child is more likely to be enthusiastic about these books as they are still fresh in her mind, and she will be keen to read them with you.

Reading Toy Instructions
If your child was given toys that need assembling, involve him in the 'building' process, and maybe even ask him to help read out the instructions (or at least some of them, depending on their complexity). You're bound to get some enthusiastic input, especially as you near completion!

The Inevitable 'Thank You' Note
Writing 'Thank You' notes needn't be a chore. Getting your child to design and create a 'Thank You' card can be great fun, and there is no limit to how she can make the card or letter look. Consider drawing or painting on the front, and adding 3-D effects by sticking tinsel, cotton wool etc. to the front. You will only be limited by your imagination! Then, after you have helped your child write the Thank You letter, ask her to read it out loud to you.

A 'Thank You' Letter to Santa
You could even help your little one to write a letter to Santa, thanking him for his presents. Again, ask him to read it out loud to you after it's finished. By remembering the great presents Santa brought him, you can bet that your child will be very excited, and will love reading out the list.

Be a Role Model
Let your child see YOU reading some of the reading material you were given for Christmas. Or, if you weren't given any books, kick back with the book you've got on the go at the moment, or even a magazine or newspaper - it doesn't really matter what. The secret is that your child sees you reading.

Playing Games
If your child was given games for Christmas, the early new year is the perfect time to start playing them with him. Board games and puzzles can be a good way to focus your child's mind, and are also a great way to spend constructive time with him. Games can be good for letter recognition and reading, but they don't have to be purely educational to be of value. Lots of games help with general social and communication skills, not to mention manual dexterity and hand-eye co-ordination.

The Local Library Resolution
You might like to make a New Year's resolution of taking your child to your local library. Many of them offer programs for children and toddlers, as well as group activities and parent-child sessions. For many reasons (not least financial) joining the local library is highly recommended.

We hope you find some or all of the above tips useful, and that they help to start the new school year in a positive way. Happy reading!

2. Send us your tips

If you have any good advice or tips that you have found useful for helping your child's reading, and you would like to share them with our readers, please email them to and we will do our best to feature them in our next issue.

3. Our recommended reading and child literacy websites

There is a huge number of good quality child literacy websites out there, but finding them isn't always easy. We have listed a small selection of sites that have impressed us, and have written a brief critique of each one.

Reading Rockets - ( Great for parents and teachers, with a huge resource of articles on a wide range of reading-related topics. Features latest news, and the chance sign up to webcasts, podcasts and videos.

Scholastic - ( An Australian-based site with useful information categorised for parents, teachers, schools and kids. The Kids section has some good educational games. Features a school-based Book Club that offers teachers and parents "an easy way to purchase the best children's books and software at low prices".

Starfall - ( A simple, colourful but extensive website where kids can play a huge range of online games and learn to read too. Really good for early readers learning the alphabet and simple words. It is divided into 4 age groups.

BBC Schools - ( Another huge resource with some great question-and-answer style articles for parents and interactive games and animations for children. However the site caters for all school ages. The 'Learning Zone Broadband' has clips from educational TV programmes.

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