Did you ever hear the saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Tell that to the 99-year-old woman from Lake Oswego in Oregon who not only learned how to use an iPad but writes poetry on it. Jim Henry from Mystic, Connecticut learned to read at age 92 and published a book at 98 years old. A Statistics Canada report in 2007 showed that most Canadians will lose about one grade level’s worth of literacy skills in their lifetime after they leave school. The good news is that there is a way to keep those skills from school in math and reading sharp and it isn’t complicated. Read books you like and practice your math skills. To put it even more simply: use it or lose it.
But you can’t use what you never had to begin with. Literacy is most often thought of as a person’s ability to read. Physical literacy is the latest buzz word and it’s buzzing because in recent years it has been on the decline for Canadian kids. Physical literacy is made up of movement and sport skills on the ground, in the water, on snow and ice, and in the air. Many people believe that these skills happen naturally with kids. Developing good physical literacy happens naturally in families where the adults have good physical literacy skills. Kids need opportunities to play and learn skills needed to stay active for life but they learn a lot from the example their parents set, too.
Literacy is all about how well people get by in their world. Paying bills, reading food labels, and even throwing a football around in the yard are literacy skills in practice.
It is no secret that Cariboo kids are familiar with the Great Outdoors. Many local families will be taking their kids on adventures this summer but you don’t need to go too far to get the kids outside. Unplug and spend time in the yard or in the park but remember that everyone wins when parents play with their kids. Leave the iPad and smartphone at home with Grandma and show the kids how to catch a baseball so they can join in at their company picnic in 20 years. We don’t start learning when we begin Kindergarten and we don’t have to stop when we leave school either. Literacy is for life.
Kimberly Vance-Lundsbye is the Immigrant Settlement Services Coordinator for Cariboo-Chilcotin Partners for Literacy