Family Literacy Day

By: Nada Jerkovic

Family Literacy Day is a national initiative created by ABC Life Literacy Canada in 1999 and held annually on January 27 to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family.

We would like to contribute to the Family Literacy Day celebrations by sharing some “food for thought” with parents and practitioners who work with families.

Have you noticed how the world has changed and how busy our lives have become?

The realities of the modern world pressure families to always be on the go. Many parents work long hours and find impossible to find ways to sit down and eat together. We often bring work home physically and emotionally. Our children are often overscheduled with too many activities often with activities and events that they don’t really care about or enjoy. Digital media is everywhere in so many forms – computers, smart phones, the Internet are amazing but they can also suck away our valuable time and isolate family members from each other.

It is more now than ever that thinking about family time as learning and bonding time is so important!

How can we ensure that we take time to eat as a family, play together, read and talk together?

Are there ways to balance our work responsibilities and reserve time for each other?

Do we need to sign up our kids for every sport, volunteer for every committee or and answer every e-mail and text that arrives during our non-working hours instantly?

Do we really need to visit our Facebook page every day?

Can we make a commitment to share mealtime together as a family every day and while at the table, not have the TV on or sit silently and instead talk about our day?

What can be done to connect family members who are separated by distance? How can grandparents share time with their distant grandchildren?

How can we make sure that we cook together, make sock puppets and then use them to put on a show, play board games together, tell a story together and grab a good book and gather the whole family on the couch and read something wonderful?

How do we do this learning? Is it all about setting blocks of time allocated for family learning? Or does it begin with the questions such as “How was your day?” or “Mom do you think I would look good with green hair?” With 15 minutes a day or no formal day or time on the calendar?

Imagine the world 10 years from now. I would guess that it’s going to be more fast paced than ever, that families are going to be even busier, even more distanced geographically and even less able to connect to one another.

What skills would you like your child to have in the world 10 years from now?

  • technically literate, but balanced
  • avid reader
  • convincing speaker
  • good writer
  • creative and curious
  • able to think critically
  • aware that real human connections are more meaningful than the relationship with your smartphone
  • able to pay attention to a problem for a long time

To ensure that all our children and adults have the essential skills of the 21st century, we need to better recognize and acknowledge the value of family learning!

Let’s celebrate Family Literacy Day on January 27 and every day!