Today is International Literacy Day – a day to highlight the importance of literacy throughout society, on both an individual and community basis. This event is celebrated each year on 8th September and was started by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). They say:
“Since 1967, International Literacy Day (ILD) celebrations have taken place annually around the world to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights, and to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society. Despite progress made, literacy challenges persist with at least 773 million young people and adults lacking basic literacy skills today.”
This year, children and young people’s learning has been made so much more difficult, due to restrictions that had to be put in place due to Covid-19. It has also shown how existing issues have been exacerbated in relation to access to good literacy learning opportunities for many young people, including online learning access for children that do not have a laptop or PC at home.
Foster children should all have had online access, either via their own laptops provided by their local authority or have had use of one provided by their foster carers, however, this has not been the only barrier to learning:
- Lack of school day location and structure and having the support of teachers in the classroom has not been available for all, which can lead to distractions, loss of motivation, losing heart when stuck on a topic etc. Many foster children were able to attend school some of the time under the provision made for children of keyworkers and vulnerable children, but not all.
- Having young children/siblings in the home meant that sometimes it was hard for older children to have a quiet space to study, which impacts their ability to concentrate and therefore lose themselves in writing a story or reading a book.
- Restriction of being in lockdown and unable to socialise with friends or, for fostered children, meeting with the family at contact, led to many feeling isolated and low.
- As well as the above-mentioned online access issues, many children attending SEND education providers missed out on having access to equipment etc that was tailored to their needs.
So, what can we do as parents and foster carers to encourage and support young people with their literacy skills?
- A really helpful resource is listed below (from BBC Bitesize) that has 23 great suggestions!
- For older children, a fun way to learn is to use online or board games with a literacy theme such as Pictionary, Boggle, Rummikub. Plus, Scrabble and Upwords have good versions available on your mobile phone.
- Encourage reading of all kinds of books, brochures, graphic novels and have a good discussion about them. Perhaps read favourite passages out loud as if performing on stage!
UK Fostering Foster Carers please refer to your Foster Carer Handbook and the Education Policy for more information on expectations and was to support your foster child’s educational needs. There are resources listed below as well in the resource section of this website 😊
Books can also offer more than just academic experiences for children but can also provide opportunities for building attachments with even the youngest of children. Anish from the National Literacy Trust works with foster families to help them bond through books. She says:
“Reading physical books together, as well as sharing songs and rhymes, allow for a great amount of eye contact, cuddles and other physical and non-physical contacts, which all support healthy attachment. Books are also a great tool to enrich a child’s understanding of the world, building empathy and social competence.”
By Lynsey Dobbs – Senior Recruitment Officer, UK Fostering
https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/z6bt7nb BBC Bitesize – 23 Language And Literacy Tips To Support Your Child
https://thechildrensliteracycharity.org.uk/home-learning/free-downloads/ The Children’s Literacy Charity – Free Downloads To Support With Phonics and Reading Skills
https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/literacyday – UNESCO International Literacy Day Webpage
https://literacytrust.org.uk/blog/helping-foster-families-bond-through-books/ The Literacy Trust – Helping Foster Families Bond Through Books
https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/2020/08/18/children-without-internet-access-during-lockdown/ The Children’s Commissioner – Children Without Internet Access During Lockdown
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/learning-during-the-pandemic/learning-during-the-pandemic-review-of-research-from-england Ofqual – Learning During The Pandemic: Review Of The Research From England