February is often thought of as the month of love. For many school-age children, it usually means Valentine’s Day parties and cards. However, once again, that may look a little different this year with remote learning. In addition, one of the guiding philosophies at Neighborhood Lit is to foster the love of reading and writing in children so that they become lifelong readers and writers. We realize that remote learning has also taken a little of the joy out of this as well. So in an effort to make the most of our current reality, we’d like to share a few ways to spread a little love that celebrates Valentine’s day and reading and writing.
Send a Valentine’s Day card: Even if Valentine’s Day cards are not being passed out at school, use this as an opportunity for your children to make cards for friends and family. Have fun with it and give them a variety of materials to use. It’s also a great time to teach them how to address and mail cards. Children are often more invested in writing when they know it’s being done for a purpose. What a better purpose than to show someone that you care!
Create “Compliment Cards”: These days, we could all use a little extra encouragement and kind words. This activity is a great way to get the whole family involved. Each person makes a “mailbox” for themselves. It's up to you how creative or elaborate you want to get with this part. You can keep it simple, by decorating a business envelope or paper lunch bag, or make it a little fancier by embellishing a tissue box or shoebox. Once the mailbox has been created, each family member writes (or draws) a compliment for each other and puts it in the mailbox (younger children may need help with the writing). You can choose to write a compliment each day for a specified amount of days and you can choose whether or not to share the compliments with one another at a specific time such as dinner. The object of “compliment cards'' is to focus on the positive, spread some love and once again, encourage a purpose for writing.
Make a “Love Jar”: By now, many of us know the importance of gratitude for mental health. Practicing gratitude has been shown to improve your mood and happiness as well as make you more optimistic, but it takes an effort to make it into a habit. Creating a “Love Jar” will help your family incorporate gratitude into your daily lives. Decorate a mason jar (again, you can decide how extravagant you want to make it) and put in on the kitchen table. During dinner (or any family meal), take a moment for each person to write and read something that they are grateful for that day or that they “loved” about the day and put it in the jar. You may like this so much that you keep it going all year long!
Give the gift of books: If you are going to buy Valentine’s Day gifts for your family, consider giving a book in addition to the chocolate! And then give the gift of your time and read together! Reading a book together or just being in the same room and reading your own books makes such a difference in nurturing the love of reading for your children. Don’t forget to visit your local library or bookstore for book ideas!
Although you do not need to reinvent the wheel with new or innovative ideas to help your children develop and maintain a love of reading and writing, it can be helpful and more motivating to try a different perspective or theme. Valentine’s Day is an excellent time to provide a purpose for reading and writing and spread some love along the way!
Any questions? Please email us at Janice@Neighborhoodlit.com. Taylor Burke is a teacher and Director of Communications at Neighborhood Lit. and works closely with Janice Migliazza, a Reading Specialist and owner of Neighborhood Lit, Route 34, Colts Neck to bring you this information.