Embrace literacy at home for best results

Every day, we send our kids off to school hoping they will learn something — anything — and grow into knowledgeable

By Ashley Tilley – Special to the Sylvan Lake News

Every day, we send our kids off to school hoping they will learn something — anything — and grow into knowledgeable, successful adults. But while we deal with the daily details of that thing called life, we sometimes forget to encourage learning at home.

Parents are a child’s first teacher. Even after they’ve started school, it’s important to ensure that family learning continues at home every day. Kids look up to their parents and mimic many of their daily routines. Spending just 15 minutes a day with them can go a long way to help children develop a love of learning and improve their literacy skills.

“Learning together as a family is vital to a child’s future education,” says Margaret Eaton, president of ABC Life Literacy Canada. “Doing family literacy activities not only helps develop children’s reading, writing and math skills, it also provides an opportunity for parents to learn something new too.”

Unfortunately, approximately nine million adult Canadians suffer from low literacy, and hundreds of thousands of these individuals have children. Several 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.

Research shows that children raised in literate households are likely to enter Grade 1 with several thousand hours of one-to-one pre-reading experience behind them, so it’s important to ensure learning takes place in the home and starts at an early age.

It’s understandable that parents lead busy lives and may not have time to read a bedtime story to their children. Add to that parents that have low reading confidence and children almost never enjoy a bedtime story.

Luckily, there are so many learning opportunities that happen in our day-to-day lives — fun, easy activities that are part of our daily routines and don’t feel like learning.

September is Life Literacy Month, a month to celebrate literacy and lifelong learning. In honour of the month, ABC Life Literacy Canada offers 10 fun and easy ways to make literacy part of your family’s daily life.

1. When making your grocery list, have your child write out the items you need to buy.

2. At the store, ask your child to count out the money to make the purchase.

3. Make it a habit to always read a story together at bedtime.

4. When cooking dinner, involve your children in measuring the ingredients. This helps them understand fractions and measurements.

5. Driving is the perfect opportunity to practice literacy. Read signs, billboards and licence plates together, and show your children the proper way to read a map.

6. While on the Internet, make time to research something new that your family is interested in. Researching skills are important and help with reading and comprehension.

7. In the car, sing along to songs on the radio. Singing encourages learning patterns of words, rhymes and rhythms, and is strongly connected to language skills.

8. When playing a board game, read the instructions aloud to each other or count how many spaces to travel around the board.

9. Involve your kids when you pay bills. This will teach them strong financial skills early on in life.

10. Children follow by example, so ensure learning is part of your daily life too!