You are your child’s best toy!

By Jill J. Alvarez

Literacy has been the ‘buzzword’ in education for the past couple of years. Parents want their children to read – early. However, literacy is not something we simply teach, and it’s not something that starts in kindergarten. It’s a complex process that starts at birth and includes a child learning in four basic areas: Language, listening, reading and writing – simultaneously. Literacy is everywhere. It is inside your home, in your backyard, at the park, at the grocery store, at your place of worship, in the recreation centre, in the street and in your car. It should not be expensive –- it can be homemade and it can be fun.

What is emergent literacy? It is a child’s knowledge of reading and writing skills before they learn how to read and write words. Emergent literacy is exemplified by a baby who chews on a book, a toddler who wants to sing ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’ over and over again, and a preschooler who reads to you a book from memory. Remember, literacy is not ‘letteracy’. There are important areas of language and literacy development that a child needs to master in order to be a strong reader and writer. I will talk about these skills in my next blog.

Finally, I will be sharing with you my favourite homemade activities that you can do with your child in 15 minutes or less to support them in various areas of development, particularly in the area of language and literacy. I will be recommending books, toys, props and other play ‘gadgets’ because these things enhance your interaction with your child. However, at the end of the day – remember that some of the best toys are NOT toys at all. You are your child’s best toy!

Stay tuned for my blogs series.