Every year, we pass September 8th with a plan in mind. A sale, a free giveaway, a social cause that needs free books… some way to associate Reading with Literacy.
However the underlying fact is that literacy is not just about reading. It is about empowering an individual to function within society in a fulfilling way.
Literate people can manage their bank accounts, find directions, ask the right questions to get information and rely on a basic level of education to participate meaningfully in a community.
This year, UNESCO has themed International Literacy Day 2014 as “Literacy and Sustainable Development”. According to Former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, “Literacy is a key lever of change and a practical tool of empowerment on each of the three main pillars of sustainable development: economic development, social development and environmental protection.”
Every child comes into this world, with an ability to mimic the behavior of key adults around them. And with every child there exists endless opportunities to educate through example. Most of us finish our formal education early on, before our children came along. After that the few hobbies we have usually dwindle when there are young children in the house.
So how often do your children see you reading, or learning something new? How do they learn to mimic sustainable development and literacy-building activities in your day to day life?
Here are some ideas you can implement to be a greater influence on your children’s literacy:
Let children write and read the grocery lists. YES, it will take longer. But they will soon be able to anticipate your needs and help you prepare your shopping lists.
Going somewhere? Look at the map, research online, compare the hotels, find the most interesting route. All of these are engaging and challenging activities which require a lot of reading, thinking and calculation skills.
Make your monthly accounts known to the kids! Use whiteboards, or sticky notes or show them your account notebook or app. Let children see how you keep track of expenditures every month and use math skills to help you do so.
Establish a reading time. Try talking about your favourite books and see if they start to share their stories too. Book clubs get people more interested in reading, and there’s no reason why you can’t have a mini book club for your family too.
Plan a party: Can the elder ones plan the younger one’s birthday parties? Budget, location, cakes, decorations, gifts… it’s a potential career, after all. Show them how you do it and explain the tricks you’ve learned to keep things under control.
Remember, literacy is not just about being able to read, but being self-dependent enough to learn to assimilate more information as life requires it. Use your position as a parent or teacher to show children how learning helps you cope as an adult.