The seeds of literacy can be sown at any age. As such, many programs in Greater Victoria help parents give their children an early start on reading.
Jan Dupuis, a literacy outreach co-ordinator in the Capital Region, helps various organizations and families connect and collaborate.
The Greater Victoria Public Library and the READ Society, for example, host a range of programs for families. They target children of any age, Dupuis said, though many focus specifically on the five-and-under group.
“Family literacy is focused on parents engaging with their children right from birth with literacy activities,” Dupuis said.
Programs focus on reading, writing and numbers at early ages then move to learning with technology later on. Other programs also encourage singing and cooking together as families, along with other activities.
“Literacy really involves those tasks that increase the levels of skill and confidence and self-esteem and really connect the family,” Dupuis said.
The Parent-Child Mother Goose program offered at various library branches and community centres brings parents together with their young children to share stories and music.
The READ Society hosts the Noisy Kids Reading Club, an after-school program offered through school districts that sees children who could benefit from extra literacy support learn through reading, theatre and educational games.
Shantael Sleight is literacy outreach co-ordinator with Your Literacy Connection Westshore.
“We’re always looking to get a better understanding on where the needs are, where the gaps are and what is already in place in terms of improving literacy at any level, “ she said.
Books for Breakfast sees families come together with facilitators to read books, sing songs and enjoy a snack, while parents learn effective literary skills to teach their children. Each family gets a new book at the end of each session.
The Family Learning Tour, a one-day event in January, sees families learn about informal reading, such as labels and recipes, along with the value of play as a learning tool. The program runs throughout the West Shore.
“(Parents) have grown to love reading with their children and showing them how much fun it can be,” Sleight said. “They feel more confident to get out there and try something new and learn with their children.”