Encourage Parents to Engage in Oral Storytelling and Mealtime Conversations

As families interact at home at the end of the day, many times there is a recounting or oral reporting of events they experienced during the day. This recounting often resembles an oral story as a sequence of events is remembered and told. These personal narratives of the day’s events are often followed by related conversations about those events with family members. Sometimes this occurs at mealtime, other times it occurs as they are traveling home in their car or on the bus. Oral storytelling may also be a way that family members share knowledge about past events specific to their culture or stories handed down through generations.

Both of these events, oral storytelling and conversations, provide opportunities for children to develop oral comprehension of narratives as well as begin to create narratives of their own. It is important to let parents know that this will help their children understand written stories later on when they are reading independently. It also develops vocabulary and other language-related knowledge.

Encourage Parents to Let Their Child Explore and Experiment with Visual Communication

This includes creating messages and interacting with environmental print. By encouraging parents to support this exploration and experimentation, preschoolers will develop an awareness of the ways that written language is used to get things done. Parents can provide opportunities to let their children observe them reading and writing as they go about their daily activities, for example, reading a recipe, paying bills, using written texts as a part of religious services, reading a newspaper, reading items received in the mail, or using a computer. Parents can also involve their children in interacting with environmental print, such as reading labels on food cartons, helping with the grocery shopping, mailing letters at the post office and noticing signs on the streets/roads. Having a family message-board or posting messages to each other on the refrigerator provides a way for preschoolers to participate in visual communication with family members through drawing and writing attempts. While you will want to encourage parents to take time to answer preschoolers’ questions about print, you will want to emphasize that the preschool years are times of exploration and experimentation, rather than intensive direct teaching.