What is literacy?
Literacy is the ability to read, view, write, design, speak and listen in a way that allows you to communicate effectively. The power of literacy lies not just in the ability to read and write, but rather in a person’s capacity to apply these skills to effectively connect, interpret and discern the intricacies of the world in which they live.
The changes that the English language has undergone over the course of history is staggering. The past decade alone has seen students’ literacy repertoire extend beyond the traditional pillars of reading, comprehension, grammar and writing, to include digital and interactive applications. With today’s learners faced with a myriad of traditional and digital literacies, how can we as parents ensure that our children develop the skills to effectively navigate and decipher the constant information stream that surrounds them?
Why is it so important?
Today, many children are being classed as ‘digital natives’ – just as comfortable online as they are offline. The internet enables endless educational possibilities, with constantly evolving information streams, however, the vastness of the internet can be a hindrance to those children who cannot effectively sift through and interpret the material presented. Strong literacy skills are a key tool used when children discern and interpret information, enabling them to utilise the internet to its full potential and making sure that the inevitable ‘digital footprint’ that children will leave, is one that is safe, appropriate, and reflective of their true self.
Ways to support your child’s literacy development.
Studies have shown that children’s motivation and achievement improve when their parents are involved in their education. There are many everyday things you can do to encourage literacy learning. These include:
• Sharing your knowledge and explaining how you use literacy in your everyday life
• Encouraging your child to read and view a variety of texts such as newspapers, novels, comics, magazines, websites, email and timetables
• Encouraging your child to write and design for a variety of purposes using different mediums
• Discussing how texts look different depending on the purpose and audience — for example, text messaging uses different spelling from school projects
• Talking about things that you have read or viewed that were amusing, interesting or useful
• Discussing favourite authors, producers, directors or illustrators and what you like about them
• Discussing new and unusual words or phrases and exploring these through print and electronic dictionaries
• Playing games that develop knowledge and enjoyment of words
• Making use of community resources for information, local and school libraries