By Victoria Vanderstoep, Student Communicative Disorders Assistant, Durham College
Does your child enjoy reading stories before bed or singing silly songs throughout the day? What about playing word games or writing notes to their friends and family? Did you know that these are just some of the activities that will help a child develop their literacy skills! Family Literacy Day, which was on January 27th is a national awareness initiative to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family.
What does ‘Literacy’ mean?
Literacy is not only the ability to read and write. Literacy also includes the ability to understand and use printed information, like letters, words and numbers, in daily activities both at home and in the community. As a child is exploring and learning about the world they live in, they are using their literacy skills to develop knowledge about the new experiences they are being exposed to each and every day.
The importance of Literacy
Literacy is viewed as a crucial skill. In order to raise awareness of the importance of engaging your children in literacy-related activities as a family, ABC Life Literacy Canada has developed Family Literacy Day, on January 27 each year as an awareness incentive.
Developing literacy early on is crucial. Promoting and encouraging literacy activities in your child’s life from a young age will better prepare them for the rest of their lives. There are so many skills and responsibilities as a child grows up that require a foundation of literacy skills to build on.
How can you help build literacy in your home?
There are many ways that a family can use literacy each and every day that isn’t limited to the home. Sharing a story book together, playing word games, singing, writing letters to friends or relatives, involving your child in day-to-day tasks like writing your grocery list, using a recipe and surfing the Internet for interesting sites.
Some specific activities that target early literacy skills include:
- Talking and singing activities: many children love to sing, singing nursery rhymes with your children teach them about language, rhyme, repetition and rhythm.
- While you’re making dinner, you can talk about the food you are preparing with your child, what are you doing to it, what it tastes like and what it looks like.
- Imitate the sounds your child is making, or make up new sounds and see if they can repeat them.
- When you are in the car, talk about objects you are seeing – for example, the sounds of traffic, the cars on the road, the rustling of leaves.
- Playing word games that encourage children to learn sounds is a good strategy in building early literacy skills. You could play a game of ‘I Spy’ – ‘I spy with my little eye something beginning with b, what starts with that sound?”
These are just some suggestions of the many activities you can use to target developing early literacy skills in your children. Remember to keep an element of fun in your activities, we want our children to enjoy learning, reading and writing!