Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Why is literacy important?

Literacy (reading, writing, speaking and listening) matters. It is important. It is essential.

Think about it ... literacy is a skill required for practically every occupation. In almost every job, people need to be able to read, write, listen and speak. In fact I can't think of any job that doesn't require interaction with others in either a spoken or written form. Sure, there are people who get along in life without knowing how to read or write, but an adult who has difficulty reading, writing and communicating with others leads a more challenging life than those who are literate.

Parents need to value literacy as a worthwhile investment in their children's future. By modelling a love of language, reading and interaction with books, parents can develop a passion for literacy that they can pass on to their children. It is essential that the 'seeds are planted early' and that preschool children develop pre-reading skills and an understanding of literacy. This early work will give children greater confidence for the time when they do embark on formal reading instruction (whether that occurs in school or beforehand).

Let's make one thing clear here ... I am not advocating that preschool children should learn to read (formally). That places great pressure on parents, not to mention the children. Likewise, I am not saying that preschool children cannot learn to read. Young children are capable of so much and I do worry that often people underestimate the abilities of preschoolers. Let's leave this topic for another time! Suffice to say, there are so many pre-reading activities that should be considered before even attempting to jump into formal reading that this blog will focus primarily on pre-reading.

Preparing a child for reading (and indeed writing, speaking and listening) is something that should be genuine. By that I mean that it's not about pushing children to 'get ahead' of others. It's not about subscribing to programs that promise to 'teach your baby to ready by 2'. It's not a competition. Reading is a skill for life. Create opportunities for your child to engage with language and literacy in fun ways and develop their own passion for learning. The work done in these pivotal early years will impact greatly on a child's success and attitude toward reading.

Literacy matters. It is important. It is essential.

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