The week of January 14th 2013 marks the Fifth Annual Celebrate Literacy Week, in Florida. Florida's Department of Education, administrators, teachers, schools, students, and parents are participating in the “Take the Lead and Read" campaign.
Good for Florida, starting 2013 with the focus on Literacy; perhaps we all should spend the year focusing on our personal Literacy development.
We hear the word Literacy within schools each day. What does the word mean and why should it be interlaced within all our daily lives.
The very word, Literacy, is the ability to read for knowledge-to understand what you read, write coherently-so others may understand what you write, and think critically about the written word-to be able to use the information you gain. To be able to think critically about what is written, or said, is important throughout our lives. We need to continue to hone not just our children’s but our reflective skills and improve critical thinking skills through careful analysis, reasoned inference and thoughtful evaluation of what we read and hear each day from our culture and ideas brought to us through the written and spoken word.
In addition, there is Visual Literacy which includes the ability to understand all forms of communication, the body language-of everyone speaking from politicians to employers, pictures and videos-and growing computer skills.
Evolving technology is changing our definitions of literacy, expanding visual literacy to include media and electronic text. As our social and cultural society blend technology within our lives the needs and demands of literacy increases to encompass an ever increasing complex set of abilities.
We need to teach our children, and continue to hone our Literacy ability, understand and reflect what is said, or written, reflect for ourselves, analyze and critically think about the information given.
With more information at our fingertips than ever before it is important to teach our children not to be passive consumers. To teach our children to process and question what they hear and read. Help your young reader learn to ask questions before, during, and after reading, by thinking aloud when you are reading a book, article, or set of directions around or with them.
Let them see you reflect and analyze what you hear or read. Let them see and hear you question and seek those answers out. Show your child that even though you are an adult reader, you have questions before, during, and after reading. Explain that these questions not only help you gain an understanding of the text you are reading, but as a reader it is your job to analyze and think about what you are reading.
As your children begin to read text independently, work on the computer, even watch the evening news, you should continue to model the questioning process and encourage children to use it often. When your children move into upper elementary, middle school, high school and beyond they will have a framework for questions to ask themselves before, during, and after reading as they move into challenging texts and concepts. They will not just internalize information, they will reflect, analyze, and critically think for themselves.
Most important you will be sharing that Literacy skills live beyond the school day. We use Literacy skills throughout our life.