Meaningful ways of encouraging children to read and write

by Mary Ann on February 25, 2011

grandparents photo

Ted and Rose Cazier

My grandfather owned the Cazier Shoe Store in Afton, WY when I was a girl. My grandmother owned the Cazier Sweet Shop. These were the places that I spent many summer days and nights. I loved my grandparents.

My grandmother had Alzheimer’s when I was in my 30’s. One day she and grandpa were visiting my parents and she was lying on a bed in the family room. I was lying by her and she said, “Mommy can I stay with you?” I looked with loving eyes at my grandmother, patted her hand and said, “Don’t worry Rose. You can stay here.” I realized then that I had rarely talked with my grandmother about her life. I knew how she and grandpa met and how she came to start the Sweet Shop but there was so much I had never asked her. I didn’t know much about her mother and father, her siblings or her school days. I knew that she stopped going to school in about 4th grade to cook for the farm hands. I never asked her about that or about her mother’s illness.

Two years later I was visiting my aunt. Grandpa had gone to live with her. As I walked down the hall I heard him crying. I went into his room and lay down on the bed by him. “Grandpa why are you crying”, I asked. “Life goes by so fast’” was how he answered. My grandpa was very ill by then and died a short time later. I hadn’t asked him how he came to love sheep or how he lost his first herd. I hadn’t remembered why he was called Ted when his name was Edgar Leroy. I was the only one who asked him but I was a little girl, I didn’t write it down and I didn’t remember.

Some years after they passed away I put together a family history book about Ted and Rose Cazier. It was filled with words from their children who were still living and their grand children and great grandchildren. There weren’t many words from them. Their living children didn’t know much more that we did.

Yesterday we were talking about inspiring children to read and write. I mentioned helping them keep their own scrapbooks and letting them help to make family photo albums. I have a few more ideas about that today.

grandmother granddaughter pictures

Encourage a strong relationship with grandparents

*Encourage children to keep a strong relationship with their grandparents and show them by example. Teach your children to ask specific questions in order to get family history stories from their relatives. They can listen to stories as you ask questions. Then they can learn to ask their own questions. You can help them write the stories in their own words and even draw pictures for the stories to add to their own personal histories.

journal writing pictures

Help children keep a journal

*Journal writing is another way to help children keep their personal history. As you sit with them at bed time take the time to ask them about the important things in their day and encourage them to write about them. When your children are small you can write what they tell you in their books. Those that can write themselves can read you their stories. You can read a child’s stories to them that you have written down. You can really expand this history keeping opportunity by experimenting with making short videos, blogs, writing stories and publishing them, besides  keeping a handwritten journal.

I happened to see a blog that is being kept by a nine year old. It was great. She talked about her cat, reading, her favorite movie, a story she wrote, a video of her and her sister singing.

grandmother grandson pictures

Personal history is a great way to practice reading and writing.

Let’s summarize the last two blogs. A good way to help your children practice reading and writing is to  help them become interested in their own history.

* Let them compile a scrapbook of their own lives

* Encourage strong relationships between your children and extended family members

* Have your children ask family members about specific stories in their lives and help them record their life stories

* Help them write their personal history through journaling

* Let them help collect and mount photos from past generations and their family

* Try making family videos, have a blog or help them write and publish their stories and life experiences

Be creative as you help your children to find meaningful ways to learn to read and write.

You might want to look at these family mission statement examples. After your family has created a family mission statement let your children write it out and frame it. Then take turns reading it aloud each day.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

TheJoyfulPalmer February 26, 2011 at 3:12 am

This was really wonderful. It reminds me that I have a lot of questions to ask my own grandmother. I’ll write them down and have a nice chat at our upcoming reunion. And then I’ll write down the answers so that I have some material to use as I’m helping my children write by sharing stories of their great grandmother’s life.


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