When it comes to literacy, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s all about inspiring children to read more books. Although this is undoubtedly important – National Literacy Trust research shows that children with strong reading skills achieve better academic attainment across a range of subjects and tend to be happier with their lives – literacy is about so much more than that.
Having poor language skills at age five has an impact on a child’s academic achievement, mental health and future employment prospects. Children who struggle with language at age five are five times more likely to fail to reach the expected standard in English aged 11, four times more likely to have reading difficulties in adulthood and more than twice as likely to be unemployed at age 34.
Literacy is the ability to read, write, speak and listen in a way that lets us communicate effectively and make sense of the world. It encourages children to dream big, stretch their aspirations, think positively about the future and give them a route out of poverty. It’s for this very reason that the National Literacy Trust’s website for families, Words for Life, categorises its activities by the following actions:
Throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, more and more children turned to literacy-focused activities to help them feel relaxed during an uncertain and unsettling time. A quarter of children surveyed by the National Literacy trust said that writing helped them when they felt sad because they couldn’t see their family and friends. More specifically, half of boys surveyed – who are often less engaged in literacy activities than their female peers – said that listening to audiobooks increased their interest in reading.
Half (51.1%) of boys said that listening to audiobooks has increased their interest in reading and 2 in 5 (43.2%) said it has made them more interested in writing. Evidently, audiobooks might be a way to re-engage boys and reluctant readers with stories and get them into reading and writing.
The National Literacy Trust’s Words for Life site is filled with lots of activities for families with children of all ages. The charity recommends the following activities to help your child have and learn more from home:
The memory game asks families to gather a child’s favourite toys, books and objects, remove some of the items and get the child to see if they can list what’s missing. This game will help children to communicate better and solve problems. There’s also a video featuring a real-life family, which helps users to see the activity in action.
Listen to The Tindims of Rubbish Island
For some children, words on a page can take away the fun of reading. Children can join Captain Spoons, Mug, Jug, Brew, Skittle and friends on Rubbish Island in this fun free audiobook, supplied by Listening Books.
Write a newspaper about the environment
This activity is a good way of encouraging older children to look at newspapers and take an interest important issues, while building their vocabulary and writing skills. On this page, parents will also find a useful video including a real-life family trying the activity for themselves.
This arts and crafts activity is ideal for a rainy day! Encouraging children to follow a simple method helps them get better at responding to instructions. This particular task will also support a child’s mental wellbeing – shaking the jar and watching as the glitter slowly settles and everything calms down will help do the same to a child’s thoughts.
To discover more fantastic tips and activities to support children’s learning, please visit the website Words for Life.
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 Law et al. (2009) Modeling developmental language difficulties from school entry into adulthood: literacy, mental health, and employment outcomes
 National Literacy Trust (2020) Children, young people and audiobooks before and during lockdown