Most parents and educators understand the importance of being literate from an adult’s perspective. However, children often fail to realize how being literate is fundamental in ensuring their long term academic and professional success. Additionally, with new advances in technology, there are more and more reasons for young people to think that many of the skills that they valued in the past are now obsolete or unnecessary.
Let’s begin with the fact that being able to read and write is at the cornerstone of every academic subject that all children encounter in school. In order to navigate through content areas such as math and science, students must be able to decipher codes and language. Many of the strategies that are taught in literacy acquisition are universal and can be applied to other subjects and other situations.
Notwithstanding the need for literacy skills within school, it is also important to note that children need these skills in order to be able to navigate everyday life in general. Many simple activities such as going grocery shopping or even washing clothes at the laundromat require some form of reading and writing. It is extremely difficult to function in our society when one does not have the ability to decipher language.
Children learn the importance of literacy through the messages and signals that they receive from such role models as parents and educators. If parents are observed reading and valuing the written word, then their children will recognize the importance of being well read and gain an appreciation for literature. Educators should also strive for instilling a love of literature in their students instead of simply focusing on test taking strategies and the curriculum.
There are many ways that parents can promote literacy in their own homes. One way is to include their children in activities that require some form of reading or writing. They can have their children help them draft a list of necessary food items for their next grocery shopping list. Parents can also read with their children and read aloud to their children, as I have mentioned in previous posts. Visiting local libraries and bookstores can also teach children the value of literacy and of the written word.
If we want children to understand the importance of being literate in our society, we have to show them that literacy is important to us. As role models, it behooves us to move away from the “because I told you so” mentality and to be more hands-on in modeling the academic behaviors and skills that we want our children to have. Children follow by example and they will value the same things that they see adults whom they respect valuing. It is only through this mindset that we can progress as a literate society.
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