“Literacy is a fundamental human right and the foundation for lifelong learning. It is fully essential to social and human development in its ability to transform lives. For individuals, families, and societies alike, it is an instrument of empowerment to improve one’s health, one’s income, and one’s relationship with the world.”
All teachers are teachers of literacy. In education today, language is the most common way of sharing knowledge and information, so the skills for successfully managing language in all its forms is essential for learning in all subject areas and in preparing for adult life. By helping our students to improve their literacy, we also help them to improve their self-esteem, their motivation for learning, and their social skills. This in turn leads to more independence and a happy and fulfilled future.
Literacy is woven through all of the learning that our students do at Henry Beaufort and teachers continue to develop their practice and expertise in explicitly teaching these skills, recognising that what it means to be literate is constantly evolving, and that the texts and technologies of the literate are now many and varied, involving spoken and written language, electronic and print media, still and moving images. Teachers at Henry Beaufort work together to provide opportunities for our students’ literacy to be developed and improved, through: reading materials that are challenging and relevant; writing tasks that are varied and structured, and; speaking and listening activities that help support developing language.
WHAT PARENTS/CARERS CAN DO
Encourage your child to read. All reading is worthwhile, be it newspapers, football magazines, leaflets, websites, or novels. Find texts that interest them, or which link to topics they are learning about at school, and share the reading with them. Ask them questions about what they have read and take an interest in their opinions. Allow skimming and scanning as effective strategies for extracting information, and encourage extended reading as well as short bursts. Model reading for pleasure, and show them how you manage when word or texts are new or challenging for you. Be explicit about why you value reading and help them to understand how you read for different contexts and purposes.
Demonstrate that you value effective writing. Show your child that everyone writes to communicate – emails, letters, articles, etc. – and that the better the writing, the more effective the communication. Share examples of writing that you have done, and explain why you are proud of it, or how you would like to improve it. Ask them to share their writing with you and encourage them to go back and keep editing, drafting, and improving it. Pay attention to the technical details (spelling, punctuation, grammar, and so on) but also explore how they have brought their ideas together and how they have structured their text overall. Avoid saying ‘well done’, and try to be specific about what they do that is successful and the effort they put in, e.g. ‘I’m impressed with the sophisticated vocabulary you’ve tried there’ or, ‘I can tell you have edited these sentences, it works much better this way’, etc.
Listen to your child. Hear what they say and take their views seriously. Ask them questions, then encourage them to discuss with you by saying, ‘tell me more’, or ‘I’m interested to know why you think that’. Model for them how to share your thoughts reasonably and carefully; show that listening means taking on other opinions and exploring them, developing them. Talk about anything that interests you and them, and try to challenge them to be more precise or detailed in sharing their thoughts, so that they develop the confidence to use language to help themselves think and develop ideas and concepts. Give them time to talk and to explore their thinking.
For information, please visit the Literacy Trust website here.