As we know, the education of a child does not stop as they leave the classroom. In fact, the education of a child begins well before they even start school. From the first words they hear uttered or even read a child is absorbing and taking in the language. The language and literacy experiences they have before the start school provides a critical foundation for learners as they begin their schooling.
In school, we quite often talk about how educator must partner with parents in order to ensure that learners experience literacy rich environments outside of the school setting, but my concern is that this sentiment is more of an expectation for parent participate in school sanctioned literacy practices as opposed to valuing and appreciating the literacy experiences a learner has in the home.
In one research study, researchers found that while some learners appeared to not come to school with basic literacy understandings, they did in fact come from homes that possessed aspects of literacy (Brice-Heath 1982). The key difference between though is that the literacy these learners experienced in the hope is quite different from literacy experienced at school. Instead of approaching learners from a deficit model, focusing on what they don't have, educators should strive to take interest and become more aware of the literacy a learner does come to school with.
If educators become more aware of the literacy experiences their learners experience in the home they can in turn build upon those experiences to help bridge the gap between school and home. In a session I attended at a Gifted and Talented conference the presenters talked about practical ways to bridge the literacy differences between home and school One practical example they gave was encouraging parents to move beyond simple sentences that are often present in the home to understanding the need to develop fluency by speaking in complete complex sentences. This is not to say that what they are doing in the home is bad, but rather taking what they are already doing and extending it just a bit.
If parents and educators alike could work with one another in a true partnership, where it was more of a reciprocal relationship, I suspect that we would see learners thriving even more.