Children raised in literate households are likely to enter grade one with several thousand hours of one to one pre-reading experience behind them. But what about children who have limited access to learning opportunities at home?
Approximately nine million adult Canadians suffer from low literacy; hundreds of thousands of these individuals have children. Unfortunately, some of these children end up falling behind in school because they are not given the same opportunity as their peers to read at home and engage in early learning activities.
Encouraging parents to take time every day to read or do a learning activity with their children is crucial to a child’s development. Even just fifteen minutes a day can improve a child’s literacy skills dramatically, and can help parents improve their skills as well.
We know that parents lead busy lives and may not have time to read to their children. Add to that parents who have low reading confidence, and the result is that some children almost never enjoy a bedtime story.
Teachers have an opportunity to remind parents about the benefits of learning at home and at school. To ensure both children and adults are improving their literacy skills, encourage parents to do fun activities that are part of daily routines or that don’t feel like learning— playing a board game, writing out a shopping list, counting out change at the grocery store or following a recipe all incorporate literacy and learning.
Alternatively, assign homework that involves the whole family to get parents involved in their children’s learning. Ask children to write a story with a parent or guardian, or perhaps create a family tree together.
Family Literacy Day, taking place across Canada on January 27, is the perfect opportunity to encourage learning at home. There are so many learning opportunities in daily life—we just have to embrace them!
For more information on Family Literacy Day, including tips, activities and event ideas, visit www. FamilyLiteracyDay.ca.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ashely Tilley is the Communications Coordinator at ABC Life Literacy Canada.
This article is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Jan/Feb 2012 issue.