Literacy is something that many of us take for granted as a skill we have, one we have learnt with ease, and one that has been exposed to us for all our lives.
They say Australia is the “lucky country” and for many of us, it is – however, there are still children who need assistance and guidance with literacy and learning basic skills.
Literacy is developed in children when they are exposed to pictures, words, stories, letters, objects and sounds. The language experiences that children have before they start school form powerful brain connections. These connections are used for language, thinking and understanding. Without activities like talking, singing and reading, the brain doesn’t develop these important connections.
Literacy development is a vital part of children’s overall development. It’s the foundation for doing well at school, socialising with others, developing independence, managing life experiences and in the future working.
But before children learn to read and write, they need to develop the building blocks for literacy – the ability to speak, listen, understand, watch and draw.
And as children get older, they also need to learn about the connection between letters on a page and spoken sounds. For this to happen, they need plenty of experience with:
- pictures and objects – how you can use words to talk about them
- letters and words – their shapes, sounds and names
- sounds – how words can rhyme, begin and end with the same letters, be broken up into parts like syllables, be formed by blending different sounds and so on.
The best way to achieve this is to ensure reading and books are available to children – ideally from birth.
But what if you don’t have the skills, or the options, or the availability of being surrounded by books or basic access to books?
This was discovered to be the case for many Indigenous communities – and this was leaving these children at a disadvantage for the future.
That was until some very generous people in 2004 decided to make a difference and begin to “Close The Gap” around Australia. This organisation has since evolved into what is known today as “Indigenous Literacy Foundation” – and they host every year the ‘Indigenous Literacy Day’ – to raise awareness of this cause, and allow all of the community to become involved in supporting the next generation in reaching their full potential with literacy skills.
The facts today from the Indigenous Literacy Foundation are:
“Only 34% of Indigenous Year 5 students in very remote areas are at or above national minimum reading standards, compared to 95% for non-Indigenous students in major cities, according to the 2017 National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN).”Indigenous Literacy Foundation
They acknowledge that this situation is improving but there is a long way to go to bring Indigenous and Non Indigenous children’s learning to par.
It is noted that apart from the historical, health, social, and educational disadvantage issues, many remote communities don’t have many if any, books. Most of the remote communities that the foundations work with report there are fewer than five books in family homes.
And this is not acceptable. Make changing the community a must.
There are many ways to get involved on this day, fundraise and donate money, donate books to the communities, set up exchange programs. There are ways to participate on September 4th and well into the future. Be sure to check out the website, we can all make a difference in someone’s life and be enriched along the journey.
Let the Team at TEG know how you participated in this day!