Making Decisions and Keeping Track

Cay Holbrook Hi again everyone!

I thought maybe this week I would discuss the issue of making literacy decisions throughout your child’s educational life. I think that the people who visit this Family Connect website are at various levels in their journey. Some of you will have preschool children and will just be beginning to find information that you need. Others of you will be “seasoned experts” with older children and years under your belt. Still other families are here because their child may have experienced a decrease in visual acuity or ability recently, regardless of their age.

One important issue for parents is the decision about their child’s reading media. Some people consider this a decision between two options: print OR braille. I’d like to challenge that assumption and give you another way of thinking about this decision. I’d like to give you some things to think about as you consider decisions related to your child’s reading media:

1. As I mentioned in the previous post, I like to think of a child’s “literacy toolbox” as big, open, and flexible. Our goal should be to fill the child’s toolbox with as many tools as appropriate so that as your child grows, he or she will have many ways to gather information and can choose the best tool to use for the task. Have you ever heard the old saying “If all you have is a hammer, all you see are nails”? We want children to grow with many options for gathering and conveying information including possibly print, braille, large print, print accessed with the use of optical devices, auditory books, live readers, use of slate and stylus, use of computers…the list goes on and on!

2. I believe that the decision to focus on braille or print or a combination of braille and print in initial reading and writing instruction should be based on specific information about your child, not on a philosophical stance or attitudes. PRINT and BRAILLE are equal in value, anything that can be represented in print can be represented in braille; please remember that this is a decision that empowers your child! Looking at your child’s unique characteristics is the best way to make good decisions.

3. I believe that your voice, your thoughts, your opinions are critical in this decision. There are creative, experienced professionals who can provide you with their thoughts and opinions based on their (often extensive) experience and these opinions can be incredibly valuable, but ultimately, you are the expert on your child. Sometimes the decision about reading media is complex and having several different perspectives can strengthen the decision-making process.

4. Please don’t forget that decisions about the tools in your child’s literacy toolbox should be revisited often (at least once a year) with two things in mind–how is your child progressing in the current medium and are there literacy tools that should be added to your child’s toolbox?

So, those are my quick thoughts on this Thursday morning. Next week, let’s talk about literacy INSTRUCTION! That will be fun!