8 useful facts for working mothers to enhance her child’s literacy level

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents” – Emilie Buchwald


Mem Fox, author of Reading Magic once shared: “…if every parent understood the huge educational benefits and intense happiness brought about by reading aloud to their children, and if every parent – and every adult caring for a child – read aloud a minimum of three stories a day to the children in their lives, we could possibly wipe out illiteracy within one generation.”

Most working mothers would love to read three stories to their children daily. However, they are usually faced with one major concern – TIME! The following are some key facts that all parents should be aware of:

1)    Make time for READING every day

As busy as we can be, set aside some time for reading a day. When your children are younger, reading to them exposes them to multiple language structures. Your efforts will lead to widening their vocabulary too.


2)    Be a Role Model

Do a self-check, how many books do we finish reading each week or month? If we want our children to be keen readers, we have to walk the talk too. Very often, we see doting parents who make the effort to take their children to the library, encourage them to borrow books while they engage themselves busily with their smartphones!

Make the first move today! Create a family reading and sharing time. Take turns to share something interesting you have read, this is a great way to engage your child in conversation.


3)    Literacy is not just being able to Read and Write

In their eagerness to prepare their children for a great future, some parents want to ensure their children can read and write at the earliest age possible. A word of advice to parents with young children, literacy is a learning process, there are many activities that you can create in your daily lives that will eventually create the best readers and writers.

In fact, the literacy process for younger children (3 to 4 years old) starts with listening and speaking. Make an effort to speak to your child in proper sentences. In our multi-lingual environment here in Singapore, we may inadvertently use “baby languages” or mix dialect or other languages in our conversation. This will create confusion which may eventually lead to poor tenses and sentence structure in your child’s writing.


4)    Learning Literacy is connecting with our environment

For young children, they will learn to associate the printed word with useful and important information when parents point out words on street signs, product packaging and posters. By doing so, learning can take place anywhere, anytime!


5)    Capitalise on opportunities through activities

There is no rule that states that learning can only take place in a classroom. Your children’s literacy level can improve when you create recipes together or formulate a shopping list before hitting the supermarket.


6)    Create a “literacy rich” environment at home

Just as we ensure our children have a spot for their toys, efforts should not be ignored in ensuring that reading materials are readily available at home. It may be a bookshelf, a reading corner where newspapers, magazines, brochures and story books (age appropriate) are within reach.


7)    What’s happening in school?

It is important to connect with your children’s teacher to understand how the school is teaching your children. Remember, knowing how to read is not about drilling your child in making sounds. Understanding phonics is essential in reading, more importantly, you want your child to enjoy reading.


8)    Find the most suited intervention

Sometimes, seeking professional help does not mean that we, working mothers (who are professionals) are not capable of teaching our own children. We may be able to articulate and express ourselves when reading to our children, but we may not be aware of the intricacies and building blocks to help our children master literacy. We are spoilt for choices when it comes to literacy programs in Singapore. Take time to understand the approach the program offers before making a selection. Our children have only one childhood, we want them to maximise their learning in a fun, enjoyable and engaging environment yet mastering their literacy through a holistic approach.



The writer is an accredited Reading Assessor for pre-school children. If you have further enquiries pertaining to enhancing your child’s literacy level, you may email her at mariemok@gmail.com

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