The ABCs of Literacy

The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines the term literacy as “the ability to read and write.”

The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines the term literacy as “the ability to read and write.” While it seems like a simple concept on the surface, literacy has a much more broad meaning and impacts, not only on our early learning and development as human beings but also on our future – how and what we learn, and how we develop as individuals. Literacy is vital to being able to understand and use information as we communicate and interact with others in all areas of our lives.

The most recent Statistics Canada survey results show that four out of 10 adult Albertans do not have the literacy skills required to function in today’s society. Fourteen per cent of our adult population is at the lowest literacy level and are unable to read a bedtime story to their children. An additional 26 per cent are able to deal with only information that is simple and clearly laid out. These statistics are discouraging as, for most of us, our first experience with words and language came in the form of bedtime stories and childhood songs. As children, we learned that literacy was the key that could unlock the world of our imagination, bridging the gap between letters on a page and meaningful content we could interpret and understand.

The school environment carries on in the next phase of a child’s literacy development, as they begin to put their reading, writing, information-gathering and understanding skills to work in critical thinking. At STAR Catholic Schools, literacy is an important part of our curriculum, from pre-school and kindergarten, right through to their graduation, in preparation for their post-secondary education and the work world. We also recognize God has made every child a unique individual who learns at their own pace and in their own special way. In the early years, we focus on creative play that helps to build vocabulary and communication skills. Then those skills are further challenged as the child progresses through the grade levels, experiencing more challenging concepts and complex ideas.

As parents, we play an important role in those first steps a child takes in hearing letters and sounds, forming those into words and speech, learning to read, and then to communicate their own ideas through simple drawings, printing and eventually writing. The family environment is one of the best environments for children to expand and deepen their knowledge and understanding, not only when they’re young, but as they grow and become exposed to more and more diverse styles and forms of communication and information.

So the next time you sit down to read a favourite book together as a family at bedtime, remember that you are making a significant difference in so many areas of your child’s life.