Every good teacher knows that a supportive classroom environment reflects the things that matter most to the teacher and the children in that community of learners. When I was teaching, children's writing and books were everywhere you turned in my classroom - on the walls, on the shelves, and at their tables.
Likewise, the environment at home can support what you value most in your child's learning. Numerous studies have shown that kids who grow up in a print-rich environment are at a distinct advantage in school. Not to mention, when you model a love of books, your child learns to love them too! And it's never to early to start.
On the coffee table in our living room, we've got little stacks of board books for Baby L., and our fave magazines and books for us. In L.'s toy bag, mixed in with Sophie the Giraffe and her rattles and shakers, she's got a bunch of cloth books with different textures for her to feel on each page. Her favorite is Good Puppy! On the kitchen counter there's a stack of recipe books, including a homemade one that my mother-and-law and I have been adding to for the last year or so. Our hallways are lined with books. On the bedside tables in our bedroom, there are stacks of parenting books, like Your Baby's First Year, and Baby 411, plus of course-- more board books. In L.'s bedroom, there are always picture books scattered on the guest bed plus more in the basket on her dresser.
Some other ideas for creating print-rich environment at home:
1) Put clippings from your favorite magazines or blogs on the refrigerator, or post them on a bulletin board.
2) Keep your family photo albums out somewhere (yes,
this counts!). Switched everything over to digital? Try ordering a bound book online from services like Snapfish. They have pre-made templates so all you have to do is click & drag your pictures to where you want them.
4) Put a cover on your child's artwork or writing, and then put your child's book on the shelf or coffee table with all the other published books in your home. Staples has lots of options for slip on covers or binders. Or better yet, spend some time with your child doing some book-making!
5) Talk about the every-day kinds of writing you do: post-its and lists, thank you cards, emails. Show this writing to your child and invite them to do it (as best they can) too!
6) Set the family computer's screen saver to some kind of text. A short poem, the lyrics to a children's song, or even a slide show of cool pictures will help immerse your child in a home where pictures and print aren't hard to find.
7) You don't have to spend a fortune on your child's own private library. Visit the public library and sign out some books together. Even your baby can let you know which board books they prefer. Hold the book up to see if she is interested. If not, put it back and try another one. If you keep trying a wide variety of texts eventually you'll figure out your little one's preferences, even if they don't have the words to tell you!
Have fun filling your home with books! Your baby will thank you later!