Jan 11, 2022 7 min read

Nine Ways to Promote Literacy at Your Child Care Center

Leah Woodbury By: Leah Woodbury

Here’s the bad news: literacy in the United States is declining. In fact, 43 million Americans fall into the “functionally illiterate” category, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

And here’s the good news! As a daycare provider, you can help reverse that trend with activities to promote literacy in your child care center’s classrooms! 

Let’s take a look at nine ways to promote literacy in your child care center, from babies to school-age kids.

How to Promote Literacy Starting Young

Here are four tips that will help you promote literacy among infants and toddlers, which will help them find greater success in later stages of life.

1. Start Reading to Kids at an Early Age

Grab an age-appropriate book and sit down with your little ones. Allow them to turn the pages themselves if they want to! Point to the pictures and name the things you see. These simple things will foster literacy.

Remember, young kids thrive on repetition, which means you’ll probably have to read them the same books over and over again. Don’t worry, it’s for a good cause!

2. Make Story Time a Regular Part of the Day

Because young kids thrive on repetition, make story time a regular part of your daycare schedule. That way your kids are constantly exposed to books.

If you’re able, conduct story time at the same time, and in the same place, every day. Doing so will help turn reading into a treasured habit. You may find that, after implementing a consistent reading routine, your kids will become agitated should you opt to change it.

3. Let Kids Choose the Books You Read to Them

Infants aren’t able to choose books, but toddlers definitely can!

Give kids the opportunity to pick which books you read to them. This will give them a sense of independence and control — something most toddlers desperately need. It will also help them develop a love for reading because they get to read things that interest them.

Just don’t fall into a rut of reading your kids the same five stories every day for weeks on end. Do your best to introduce them to new books every so often. That way they’re exposed to new words and pictures. Then get back to letting them choose stories after you’ve done so.

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4. Encourage Parents to Read to Their Kids

You can’t be with your daycare kids all the time. In fact, depending on the arrangement you have with their parents, you may only care for them for a few hours a week. This is why it’s so important for parents to implement reading routines at home, as well.

You can encourage parents to do this by sharing the science with them:

  • Reading increases activation in certain brain regions in children.
  • Reading aloud to young children stimulates cognitive skills and builds motivation.
  • Children who can’t read proficiently by the 4th grade are 15x more likely to drop out.

You can also encourage parents to read to their children by letting them borrow books from your daycare’s library. That way they have something fun to read to their kids.

How to Promote Literacy in School-Age Kids

Do you care for school-age kids? These five tips will help instill in them a love for reading and writing, which will benefit them throughout their academic and professional lives.

5. Schedule Time For Independent Reading

Older kids can read on their own. The question is, will they? They definitely will if you schedule reading time into your daily daycare schedule.

Even 20 minutes of reading per day will expose kids to almost 2 million words per year and help them score much higher on standardized tests. Amazing! All you have to do is give your kids a chance to read independently and their literacy levels will explode.

6. Regularly Update Your Daycare’s Library

If you want your daycare kids to read, you have to provide them with interesting books. That’s why it’s important to update your library on a regular basis.

Which books should you buy? Whatever gets your kids excited to read!

Maybe it’s a classic like “A Wrinkle in Time” or “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Maybe it’s the Harry Potter or Percy Jackson series. For younger readers, the Wings of Fire  books might be a good option. Do your research and buy age-appropriate stories for your kids.

But be careful, parents often have reservations about the books their kids read. Make sure the parents you serve know about and approve of the stories in your library before a child starts to read them.

7. Invite Guests Into the Classroom to Read 

A mystery guest can make reading time extra fun. So invite someone from your community to read to your kids every once in a while!

This person could be a local author, a student at the college down the street, a librarian from the community library — it doesn’t really matter. Just make sure to turn the experience into a fun event for your kids. For example, you could give them clues during the week as to who the mystery guest will be. Then give them the chance to guess before the guest is revealed.

You can ask a parent to be your guest reader, too. Younger kids especially will get a kick out of seeing their mom or dad lead story time!

8. Reward Students For Reading Books

One of the best ways to get older kids to read is to reward them for doing so.

For example, if the book your kids are reading has been turned into a movie, plan a movie viewing for them to enjoy once they’ve finished reading the source material.

You could also create a star system, where kids get a star for every page or chapter they read. Stars can then be redeemed for fun perks, such as a prize from your box of goodies or the opportunity to choose which game they play during recreation time.

The rewards you offer will depend on the resources at your disposal and your kids’ interests. But if you offer them something in exchange for reading, they’ll likely be more inclined to give reading a try!

9. Encourage Writing, Not Just Reading

Finally, it’s important for kids to write as well as read. Here are a few ideas how you can encourage writing in your child care center:

  • Ask your kids to write a summary of the book they just finished reading.
  • Have kids make up their own stories for you to read in front of the rest of the class.
  • Partner with another local daycare to set up a pen pal program. Ask your kids to write a letter to their pen pal from the other daycare you’ve partnered with.
  • Ask kids to write their parents a letter on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day telling them how much they love and appreciate them. (This one is also a hit with parents!)

How Procare Can Help!

With preloaded state and Montessori learning standards, Procare Solutions can help you create child care lesson plans to promote literacy in your classrooms..

You can customize assessments, track student progress, save and manage your lessons and share lesson plans for at-home learning.

You even can build a lesson repository to manage all lessons and add labels and associated milestones.

If you’re ready to get the most out of your lesson plans, request a demo to see what Procare can do for you!

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Leah Woodbury

Leah Woodbury is the head of content at Procare Solutions. Her job includes writing about topics that matter to child care professionals and finding ways to help them do their important work. She’s a mom of two who loves getting updates about what her preschooler is doing during the day via the Procare child care mobile app!

Leah Woodbury