Research shows that reading to children at a young age has a positive effect on their learninghttps://www.education.vic.gov.au/documents/about/research/readtoyoungchild.pdf; https://theconversation.com/how-to-encourage-literacy-in-young-children-and-beyond-80459. This type of interaction between adult and child is also important for fostering a supportive, caring relationship. But it’s not always possible for many caregivers and parents to read to their children, because they lack confidence in their own literacy skills.
Around 750 million adults around the world, two-thirds of whom are women, lack basic reading and writing skillshttps://en.unesco.org/news/unesco-adopts-new-strategy-youth-and-adult-literacy-2020-2025-support-member-states. Adult literacy rates are lowest in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asiahttps://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2019/goal-04/. It’s such a big problem that UNESCO adopted a new strategy last year to promote youth and adult literacy. These initiatives are important because literacy empowers people and enables them to participate fully in societyIbid.
“Beyond its conventional concept as a set of reading, writing and counting skills, literacy is now understood as a means of identification, understanding, interpretation, creation, and communication in an increasingly digital, text-mediated, information-rich and fast-changing world.”https://en.unesco.org/themes/literacy
Regardless of their educational background and level of literacy, any adult can play a supportive role in a child’s learning journey, more so when given the right information and tools. We take a look at how the Reading for Meaning programme and Mikhulu Child Development Trust are helping parents and caregivers to support their children’s education.
This NGO has developed an engaging way to share picture books with children that differs from reading to them. The Mikhulu Trust promotes early learning by helping parents and caregivers to bond with their young children through an interactive and lively conversation about the story unfolding in a picture book. This activity is called “book-sharing”.
Book-sharing is an active exchange led by the child and supported by the adult who is attentive to their interests. Research has shown that these interactions improve language and cognitive development in children.
The Mikhulu Trust aims to ensure that caregivers, irrespective of their formal education, are able to build nourishing relationships with their children through book-sharing.
📌 build a child’s thinking skills and concentration;
📌 foster an appreciation for books;
📌 and stimulate curious young minds.
Parents and caregivers may not always feel confident about providing feedback and help when their child struggles to understand certain words or sentences in a story. In fact, many don’t know how to spot when their child is having trouble with their reading.
Reading for Meaning combines Storytime with educational and fun activities to stimulate critical thinking. Encouraging a child to be creative is a great confidence booster as it allows them to think about what happens in a story beyond the pages of the book.
The programme was developed using Pratham’s principle of Teaching at the Right Level. This approach focuses on a child’s specific learning needs rather than their age or grade.
📌 information and tools to make reading a fun activity to do at home;
📌 tips for giving constructive and meaningful feedback to support learning;
📌 and a guide to assessing a child’s reading skills.