The switch to online education has been difficult enough for households with reliable internet access and a device for each child. For families who are juggling financial struggles, work demands, and infrastructure and technology issues the challenge is much more difficult. Thankfully, literacy education isn’t dependent on the classroom and children’s literacy abilities can continue to be developed during the course of daily family life.
The most important way to keep children’s literacy abilities developing is to read. “Right from the time a child is born just read for ten minutes per day to them,” Jennifer says. “It widens vocabulary, it opens up new worlds. Reading allows us to enter into other people’s worlds, to understand the world a little better. It doesn’t have to be the kind of thing where you say ‘oh you got that word wrong’, just the whole experience of sitting down and reading for pleasure, reading to find things out, reading for entertainment.”
Another alternative, Jennifer says, is writing on paper or on the computer. “Find out what kids want to write, or get them to help write the list of things needed at the shop, or write a letter to family or friends that can’t be visited at the moment.”
Finally encourage your children to talk. Talking is an essential part of literacy education and also has the added advantage of helping children to work through any feelings they have about their changing lives during COVID. “Explore ideas or work out problems together,” Jennifer says. “That’s about literacies as well, talking, thinking about things, and encouraging children to ask questions.”
Literacy education doesn’t have to mean being sat at a desk for hours on end. It can be included in your daily routine (whatever that looks like now) in simple ways. Most important is to remember that as long as children are reading, writing, and talking literacy development is happening. As Jennifer says: “It doesn’t hurt to take a break every now and again. They’re still going to end up as doctors and lawyers, and scientists and everything else. Nothing’s going to change that.”