How to Promote Literacy in Your Student


“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome” (Arthur Ashe).

Many successful people claim that the process of their success eclipses the favorable outcome. They lecture their eager pupils that if one focuses solely on a result, there will truly never be any growth or appreciation – regardless of the activity or its context.

The same notion should, in turn, be applied to literacy.

For students, it does not matter what they read: what matters is that they are reading.

Literacy is a lifestyle, not a skill.

The Educational Development Center defines literacy not just as the power to read and write, but “rather in an individual’s capacity to put those skills to work in shaping the course of his or her own life” (What is Literacy?)

This is a lofty, rather overwhelming target confronting not only students but also their teachers.

The implication is clear: without literacy, a student will lack the ability to direct the course and ensure the success of his or her entire life.

You can teach skills, but you can’t teach literacy.

It is unsurprising that, given this information about literacy, many teachers and home tutor make it their primary goal for students to become literate.

However, this is precisely the kind of perspective that harms students and prevents them from cultivating a literate lifestyle.

Literacy is a journey, not a destination, but many teachers often misidentify the mile-markers and landmarks along this road and call them their destination: comprehensive reading, analysis, fluid writing, and many other skills are indispensable elements that contribute to reaching literacy.

However, they themselves are not literacy; they are simply individual steps towards it.

The best tutor creates an environment for literacy.

It is important to emphasize that the aforementioned skills are not only beneficial but necessary for the literate student.

Beyond these aspects, though, is a disarmingly simple idea that every literate student’s environment must include and actively promote: it doesn’t matter what you read; what matters is that you are reading.

Students develop literacy by constantly engaging with the world around them in all of its written forms: novels, comic books, advertisements, recipes, directions – anything and everything.

By engaging with their surroundings, students become informed and stay curious.

They take ownership over their daily lives and decisions, knowing that if they seek information, they have been given the opportunity and skills to find it.

So how do you promote literacy in your student?

Get them something to read every day – even if it’s something you find completely uninteresting, not educational, boring, or inane.

For instance – you could start with this article.


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