Nurturing literacy in the time of COVID

COVID has brought a multitude of changes to our kids’ worlds – not to mention the challenges, uncertainty and mental fatigue that it has brought to ours as parents! Yet, as we pick our way through the restrictions each day, our kids’ learning doesn’t stop. And thankfully there’s plenty of ways to nurture a child’s early literacy, whatever the new norm might look like.

The first five years

Did you know that 90 per cent of a child’s brain development happens in the first five precious years of life and that a baby’s brain forms around 700 new neural connections every second?

Research has also found that a child’s success at age 10 can be linked to the amount of conversation they hear in the first three years of life. Therefore, the first five years of a child’s learning are crucial for establishing the foundations for life-long learning.

Reading for leisure

After a tumultuous year, little ones are eager for the freedom and fun of summer.

“This downtime is hugely important for children to recharge and reset,” said Karen Gawen, Young People’s Services Supervisor from Sunshine Coast Council. “But, how you use that time is critical; finding a good balance of recharging and engagement.”

Essential to early literacy development, reading for leisure is a simple yet highly effective way of achieving that balance. “There’s no better way to recharge the batteries than to share a book with Mum and Dad, and kids don’t need to be able to read or talk to enjoy it!” Karen said. “Let them turn the pages, chat about what you see on each page, make animal noises, be silly… babies don’t mind what you do, so long as you are sharing a book together.”

Even once kids start to read independently, it’s still important to read with them.

“Chat about the characters, discuss alternative storylines, ask what would they do if they were in the character’s situation,” Karen suggested. “And if you are bouncing off the walls at home, why not make the most of the summer and take a rug and a book down to the park?”

Maximising limited screen time COVID has led to a many activities and services going online, even some we wouldn’t have thought possible. “Don’t worry if the kids have had excessive screen time over recent months; after all, the world has been turned upside-down!” said Karen. “Screen time isn’t about how much, but more about what you do with it.”

Many family services have moved online over the last six months, so there is now a wealth of digital literacy support available to parents. “The library has an abundance of online resources for families,” Karen explained. “Online library sessions such as Toddler Tuesdays and Rhymes with Ryan, are all early literacy activities that parents and children can enjoy together at home. Plus, your library membership also gives you access to a huge collection of digital eResources, such as Britannica Library, World Book Online, Literacy Planet, Ziptales, National Geographic Kids and heaps more… all for free as part of your membership!”

eResources at Sunshine Coast libraries

  • Parent Files: Play ideas, literacy games, plus tips and tricks for parents.
  • Rhymes with Ryan: Virtual live Rhymetime every Monday night at 6.30pm on the
    SC Libraries’ Facebook page. All past sessions are also available
    on demand via the library website.
  • Toddler Tuesday: A fun session for little ones where carers and their little ones can dance, sing, do yoga and play together.
  • Digital education resources: A wealth of learning eResources available via the library website.

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