Local families encouraged to support literacy for life

By Lindsay Advocate

While Family Literacy Day is officially being marked this Sunday (Jan. 27), local families are being encouraged to make literacy part of their regular routine every day of the year.

Family Literacy Day will mark its 20th year in 2019. As befits this milestone anniversary, the theme of this year’s Family Literacy Day is ‘Take 20’ – which encourages parents and caregivers to take 20 minutes daily to read, sing, listen or play with children to help them develop strong literacy skills for life.

“Practising literacy together every day has tremendous benefits for both children and parents,” said Shelley Shaughnessy, public health nurse with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. “When you ‘take 20,’ not only do you get to spend quality time together as a family, but you also help children develop strong literacy skills that are essential for them to reach their full potential in a changing and dynamic world.”

There are many fun ways that families can encourage literacy skills, without children even realizing they are learning. Reading a book at bedtime, visiting the library, playing a board game together, or telling knock-knock jokes while doing the dishes can all be options, Shaughnessy notes. Other activities to do together as a family include:

  • Organizing a ‘grocery hunt’ in which children search the store for all food items on the family grocery list.
  • Playing ‘home restaurant’ by getting children to create a menu for a meal by drawing food items or using grocery store flyers. To spice up mealtime, children can even take food orders too.
  • Taking part in an ‘animal dance’ by having family members stand in a circle and have each take a turn moving like an animal and say what they’re doing (e.g. ‘I hop like a bunny,’ ‘I stomp like a dinosaur’).

Local families can also check with their local library or EarlyON Child and Family Centre to see if there are special events planned in their community as part of Family Literacy Day.

Two organizations that can offer additional ideas and information for families are:

  • ABC Life Literacy Canada (familyliteracyday.ca) offers family literacy tips, activities and resources.
  • KidTalk (kidtalk.on.ca) is part of the Preschool Speech and Language Services program that covers Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes. The KidTalk website offers resources to promote speech skills, as well as information on speech and language milestones.

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