Earlier this week, many families and organizations across Canada celebrated Family Literacy Day. Established in 1999, Family Literacy Day has helped to draw attention to the importance of reading and enjoying other literacy-based activities together as a family.
As a parent, you are your child’s first and most important teacher. While spending quality time together, you can help prepare your young child for school, make learning fun for your school-aged child, and show your child that learning never stops as you continue to make new discoveries yourself.
Spend time every day reading with your child. As your child becomes a reader herself, listen as she takes turns reading aloud to you. Once your children are competent readers, encourage them to continue to read for pleasure by setting a good example. Make sure time is set aside for all family members to read. It may be fiction or non-fiction, a newspaper, magazine or comic book, but try not to let reading become a chore associated only with homework.
There are a wide variety of other activities beyond reading that can help develop literacy skills in children.
If your child has a particular area of interest, like a favourite sport, animal, or historical event, do some research together to learn more. You could take a trip to the library to find books on the subject, search online, or talk with someone who has knowledge of the topic and can provide information and answers to questions.
Create a family cookbook with everyone’s favourite meals and treats. Your child can help choose the recipes, print them on cards or draw pictures, and then help follow the directions to prepare the food.
Look through an atlas together, and plan imaginary adventures. What type of transportation would be required to get to your destination? What are some of the local attractions you might see there? What is the climate like?
Sing in the car or while doing work around the house. Make up songs about what you are preparing for supper, about your pet, or any other familiar subject. Teach your child songs you learned as a youngster or listened to as a teen.
Tell jokes and stories to each other. Give the first line of a story and take turns adding on to it, one line at a time. Your child’s imagination may surprise you!
Learning takes place all around us, every day. Take advantage of the many hidden opportunities to build your child’s literacy skills and continue to learn together as a family.
Shawna Munro works at the Elspeth Reid Family Resource Centre, a facility of Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba that offers
parenting information and support.
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