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325 Sandhill Rd. Kanata, ON K2K 1X7

January 27th was Family Literacy Day in Canada.  According to experts, to improve your child’s literacy skills (,  parents must be actively involved with their children, focused on a literacy activity for 20 minutes a day.  The greatest gains will come from active parental involvement which requires more thought than simply setting aside time for your child to read on their own every day.  “Where will I ever find 20 minutes a day, alone with my 10 and 12-year-old children, to truly focus on improving their literacy skills?”  Please know that this important goal is easily attainable.  We’re here to help. 

We’re confident that most children in our Kanata community spend 20 minutes in the car a day with a parent, relative or caregiver. You can transform this daily car-time into extremely valuable learning time by following these three steps: 

  • Step 1:  Adopt the mind-set that car rides are excellent times to improve literacy skills. 
  • Step 2:  Embrace the idea that ‘literacy’ refers to reading, writing, speaking and listening.
  • Step 3:  Understand what it means to be ‘actively involved’ with your child.

The practical, playful activities listed below will improve your child’s literacy skills and enhance your relationship with your child.  To be ‘actively involved’ means to speak with your child, listen to your child and question your child in a joyful way.  Speaking, listening and questioning will have a positive effect on your child’s expressive language, receptive language, phonics skills, reading comprehension, memory, self-esteem and overall confidence.  

We encourage all parents to make your child’s literacy skills an important focus in your family.

Visit us at to learn how we partner with parents to develop happy, healthy, well-rounded children The March Academy Way.

Activities to Improve Your Child’s Literacy Skills – in the Car
On long car rides, encourage your children to put their electronics away for at least 20 minutes so that you can talk, listen and engage each other.  On short car rides encourage child-parent interaction rather than using electronics at all.  A car ride can be an excellent time to promote connections with your child.
Younger Children (ages 2 to 10)
Play Telephone:Parent: “Ring, Ring.”Child:  “Hello!”Parent:  “How are you today?”Continue the dialogue in a way that is engaging for your child.
Engage your child in conversation from the perspective of their favourite toys by using different voices:    Parent:  “Hello.  This is your friend, Doll.  Where are we going?”Child:  “I don’t know, let’s ask Daddy.”
Sing songs you remember from your childhood:  Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Mary Had a Little Lamb, Row Row Row Your Boat
Chant simple nursery rhymes:  Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill
Listen to your child sing songs or rhymes they know
Ask your child what they can see out the window
Count:  cars, people, buildings
Play Detective by finding things that are ‘red’, ‘blue’, ‘large’, ‘small’, ‘moving’, ‘stationary’
Sing the alphabet, ask questions like, “What letter starts the word… ‘cat’?”
Play word games:  Play with compound words:  “Say the word ‘snowman’ without the ‘snow’.”; “Say the word ‘sunshine’ without the ‘shine’.” Play with beginning and ending sounds:  “Say ‘Peter’ without the ‘p’.”;  “Say ‘mouse’ without the ‘m’.”;  “Say ‘cold’ without the ‘d’.”; “Say ‘jump’ without the ‘p’.”Play with syllables:  “What names do you know with only one syllable?” (Anne, Mike, Pete, Kim, John); “How many syllables in the word ‘sister’ (2), ‘potato’ (3), ‘information’ (4)”  Play with vowels:  “Change the ‘a’ in ‘mat’ to another vowel: ‘mat’, ‘met’, ‘mit’, ‘mot’, ‘mut’”  Listen to the funny words that you can create.Play with rhyming words:  “What rhymes with ‘dad’?”
Play Pack Your Backpack:  How many items can you add to your list?  Can you add items in alphabetical order?Parent:  “I’m going on a trip and I’m packing a book.”Child:  “I’m going on a trip and I’m packing a book, and a toy.”Parent:  “I’m going on a trip and I’m packing a book, a toy and a bathing suit.”Child:  “I’m going on a trip and I’m packing a book, a toy, a bathing suit and an umbrella.” 
Older Children and Youth (ages 11 to 18 years)
Sing or listen to music together.  Talk about the meaning of the lyrics.  Do you all agree?
Ask your child’s opinion about what route to take.
Point out landmarks along the way.
Get your child’s point of view on current affairs, the environment, school, work etc.
Plan a vacation together with your family.
Talk about money:  how to earn it; how to save it; how to spend it.
Create a ‘question period’ by having your child ask you questions on a topic that interests them.
Have your child teach you something:  new texting abbreviations, new music, new fashion trends.
Listen to a podcast or audiobook together and probe for their opinions/reflections.
Have a debate about a current affair, environmental issue or family decision:  “Should we stop buying plastic water bottles?”
Tell jokes, riddles or brain teasers. 
Play 20 questions.
Tell imaginary stories by ‘passing the story back and forth’.  Adjust the content accordingly for your child’s interest and age.Parent:  “Once upon a time there was a big tree.” <pass>Child:  “ In the tree there was a bird who built a beautiful nest.  The nest was so big it even had an extra room for the baby birds.” <pass>Parent:  “One day, when the mother bird came home….”<pass>Child:  “… she had a large worm in her mouth.  The baby birds started tweeting…”  <pass>Parent:  “Tweet, tweet, please give me the worm.  So the mother bird…” <pass>

Post Author: Teacher

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