Show your children that learning can be fun!

Special to the Echo

  • Jan. 25, 2011 6:00 p.m.
Show your children that learning can be fun!

Special to the Echo

Learning happens in many ways, at all ages every day. Parents can help improve their literacy skills, and those of their children, by making learning fun and engaging.

Family Literacy Day® is a perfect time to sit down with your family and do a fun literacy activity. Celebrated every January 27, the national initiative encourages Canadians to spend at least 15 minutes a day enjoying a learning activity as a family. This year’s theme is Play for Literacy!

Play for Literacy includes all types of play that encourages literacy and numeracy development as well as comprehension skills, such as board games, card games and word games. Games, and the carefree act of playing, provide a fun outlet in which individuals of all ages can engage in activities that inherently provide new learning or opportunities to improve one’s reading, writing, math and comprehension skills.

“Playing games not only has the ability to bring people together, it also provides a fun environment in which learning takes place,” explains Margaret Eaton, President of ABC Life Literacy Canada. “Card games help improve numeracy skills while board games, and even word association games, sharpen spelling, reading and comprehension skills.”

Research shows that literacy-enriched play settings can result in at least short-term gains in young children’s knowledge about the functions of writing, ability to recognize play-related print, and use of comprehension strategies such as self-checking and self-correction.

“Families, whether they recognize it or not, participate in literacy activities just through normal daily routines – talking, cooking or making grocery lists,” says Kim Chung, Program Director at the Centre for Family Literacy in Edmonton. “Play is another way that provides an easy, fun opportunity for parents and children to positively interact around learning.”

In honour of Family Literacy Day, ABC Life Literacy Canada and the Centre for Family Literacy are offering these fun play-based literacy activities that the whole family will enjoy:

•Host a family board game night where everyone is encouraged to read instructions, spell words and keep score. Invite another family over for a friendly competition!

•Driving in the car doesn’t have to be boring. Turn off the radio and play fun games involving signs, billboards and licence plates.

•Play an active game such as ‘Simon Says’, which improves comprehension skills.

•Open a book and make up a story using just the pictures.

•Rhymes, chants, songs and storytelling create a rich environment for language development.

•Make a batch of cookies and count how many there are.

•Card games like ‘Go Fish’ help children learn to articulate sounds and improve memory development.

•Go outside and be active! Count how many times they can hop or jump.

•When doing an outdoor activity, ask children to count items around them. For example, while playing hockey, ask them to count the number of goals scored by each team.

•Have a scavenger hunt! Give your kids a list of items that have been hidden around the house and ask them to find them.

To take part in Family Literacy Day, and to Play for Literacy, visit FamilyLiteracyDay.ca to find a local event or access additional tips and activities to create your own celebration.

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