The Second of the Three R’s

Education is about the three R’s—reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmatic—and we already know that parents’ reading to their preschool-aged children at home can have an enormous impact on the children’s reading proficiency and language acquisition skills. It turns out that practicing writing at home may have a similar impact.

As described in an article titled “Home literacy practices and preschool children’s emergent writing skills: An initial investigation,” a team of researchers examined the relationship between home-based writing activities that parents and their preschool-aged children might engage in—such as learning to write the alphabet, learning to write names, writing greeting cards or notes together—and the children’s ability to write the letters on their own, to spell simple words, and then “to generate text beyond the letter and word level through spontaneous writing,” i.e., their ability to convey meaning through the written word, by describing what they see in pictures and by writing simple notes to their parents or party invitations to friends.

The study found that “parental teaching was [statistically] significantly related to letter-writing, spelling, and spontaneous writing” and “offers clear support for the idea that parental teaching activities play a critical role in the development of writing skills.” While the sample represents only families where the parents had both higher incomes and higher educational levels than the general population, so further research is needed to understand the extent to which this finding is generalizable to lower-income/lower-education families, it clearly reinforces the idea that parents’ home-based activities with their preschool age children have a strong impact on their academic readiness. So, parents, in addition to the storybooks, keep pencil and paper handy!

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