Intergenerational Rhymes that Bind

RTB-IntergenWhen an old person dies a whole library disappears.”
– African proverb

Rhymes that Bind is an oral family literacy program that parents and their children attend together. It encourages parents to sing, rhyme, talk, and play with their children as much as possible.

For centuries, adults have been using rhymes, songs, and stories to entertain, teach, and relay news to others. Many years ago, children grew up immersed in this oral tradition. Unfortunately, this oral practice has become lost due to smaller family units and a lack of nearby extended family.

Rhymes that Bind is a program with the ability to fill this gap by reconnecting families to this wonderful oral tradition, particularly through our Intergenerational Rhymes that Bind programs.

Through valuable partnerships, the Centre for Family Literacy facilitates several Intergenerational Rhymes that Bind programs in Edmonton. These programs are facilitated in senior living communities and the residents are welcome and encouraged to attend and participate. Many parents choose to attend our intergenerational sites because they do not have grandparents or extended family living nearby, and fostering these generational relationships is very important to them.

When attending one of our Intergenerational Rhymes that Bind programs, you are immediately overcome with a strong sense of community and family. Bringing together three generations creates a wonderfully unique environment.

  • Watch as the parents walk with their children around the room to visit each senior in attendance.
  • See welcoming smiles and warm embraces.
  • Hear the children squeal in delight as they recognize the grandmas and grandpas from last week.
  • Feel an overwhelming sense of respect, gratitude, and adoration.

Each generation is involved in our programming and participates as much or as little as they like. We sing songs and rhymes that the parents and children love, and those that are shared by our seniors. Some of our favourites are:

  • You Are My Sunshine
  • I’ve Been Working on the Railroad
  • Oh Susanna
  • Billy Boy

On many occasions, one of our seniors in attendance will share a song that sparks a memory in one of our parents, and I’ll hear, “I haven’t heard that song since I was a kid. My parents used to sing that to me!” Instantly, this parent has been reconnected with a memory from their past and you can trust that this is now a song they will sing to their children. In that very moment, a tradition lives on.

We will have new sessions beginning in January. Please check our website for the new schedule – coming soon!

 

hashtag: #RTB_Edm

 

Numbers Are Everywhere!

WordleNumeracy, according to the most recent PIAAC (Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies) report, is defined as the ability to access, use, interpret and communicate mathematical information and ideas, in order to engage in and manage the mathematical demands of a range of situations in adult life (OECD 2012). In more simplified terms, it can be defined as “the ability to understand and work with numbers.”

Have you ever thought about how prevalent numbers are in daily life? Similar to environmental print (print that is found in our everyday environment), numbers are everywhere – whether you are using your computer or cell phone, planning or preparing a meal, shopping, or heading out for a stroll.

Numeracy is about shapes, patterns, sorting and understanding the language of numbers, rather than adding and subtracting, or computing a series of mathematical equations. To me it is about having a good understanding of:

  • Number sense – a flexible understanding of what numbers are – that 1 is the same as the word one and can be represented by a single object or fact, that many parts can make up a whole
  • Counting – numbers follow each other in sequence either up or down, in pairs or groups
  • Shapes – recognizing both 2D and 3D shapes in our daily lives
  • Measurement – this can relate to distance, size, value or time
  • Patterns and sequencing – what comes next and how to duplicate and create new patterns
  • Sorting or categorizing – why are things grouped in a certain way
  • Problem solving – if this happens, then what might happen next?
  • Language of numbers – words that are used to describe the concept of numbers, like over/under, bigger/smaller, more than/less than, same/different, trial and error

Children are born mathematicians. They start early, learning about the concepts of numeracy long before they know what numeracy means. This is demonstrated when you see or hear a child:

  • Proudly hold up his fingers to show you that he is 3 – number sense
  • Tell you that you need to STOP – shape and colour of the stop sign
  • Ask you how many sleeps until a special event – measurement
  • Separate the different colours or shapes of their toys – sorting and categorizing
  • Figure out how many pieces of apple are needed so that each friend gets a piece – problem solving
  • Explain that she is “much more bigger” than her little brother

There are many simple ways to support children in their understanding of numeracy. You are probably already doing some of these things without giving any thought to numeracy!

  • Count the number of leaves on a flower stem.
  • Find shapes in the playground.
  • Spend time building with Lego or blocks.
  • Get help setting the table, asking how many plates, cups, and forks are needed.
  • Bake some cookies.
  • Get your child to help sorting the laundry, making sure to ask why they sorted the way they did. It may seem random to you but they will have a reason.

Numeracy today is about more than just the ability to count, multiply and divide. Like literacy, it is an essential skill that should be learned in the home long before a child starts on their formal learning journey.

3,2,1 Fun! program information (there will be a session starting in January 2015 – watch for updates!)

hashtag: #321_Fun

 

Did You Know Some Children’s Books Can Be Dangerous?

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A visit by the Alberta Prairie C.O.W. Bus is not the only service offered by our program. At each visit, a Legacy Library containing approximately 50 books is presented to our community partners. The Legacy Library is a mix of books for preschool children, with an emphasis on Canadian authors and a portion of Aboriginal stories.

Each year, the Alberta Prairie C.O.W. Bus leaves over 5,000 books in communities across Alberta. In addition to all the other criteria for choosing quality children’s books, safety is an important consideration. Since books are not classified as toys, they don’t have the same safety regulations. Following are some hazards we watch out for:

  • Books for babies and toddlers might have choking hazards. Books for young children are made to be so entertaining that sometimes the safety of its pieces is not considered in the design. Any pieces small enough to fit through a paper towel tube are a choking hazard. These pieces are usually fastened to the page with glue that may be toxic, so it’s doubly important to ensure they are securely stuck to the page. Always monitor the child closely if playing with a book of this design.
  • Some books might have lower quality binding and pages. If you can easily pull apart a book at the seams, or take apart the layers of cardboard in a board book page with your fingernails, so can babies.
  • Some books that teach textures will have a fuzzy fabric attached, often on the cover. Don’t be afraid to pinch at the fuzzy material to ensure that it won’t come off and present a hazard, as is often the case.
  • Bath books can be a fun way to introduce reading to a child, but they are often filled with toxic materials. Before each use, check them over for any punctures or tears. If there are any, throw the book away. Repairs might not hold, and the chemicals from any glue or tape used could also be toxic or pose a choking hazard.
  • When buying, consider how easily the book can be cleaned. Books can become very grimy, and little ones want to chew on the books more than anything else. If you can’t clean the book, not only can it grow bacteria but also toxic mould.
  • One more thing to consider is the edges of the book. Are they sharp, or nicely rounded? If the edges are sharp, babies can cut their gums.

Shopping for books with safety in mind may seem a little daunting, but it’s worth the extra time. If you happen to have some books in the house that don’t pass the test, there is no need to throw them out—unless they’re toxic—just be sure to keep them out of the hands of your little ones.

Learn about book safety and more by attending one of our parent workshops, another service we provide. The C.O.W. Bus facilitators will discuss a variety of early literacy topics. If you would like to arrange a C.O.W. Bus visit to your Alberta community, please call the Centre for Family Literacy at 780.421.7323.

2014 C.O.W. Bus schedule 2015 schedule coming soon!

Make a donation to the Legacy Library

hashtag: #ab_cow

Reading Every Day Helps Keep the Doctor Away

The benefits of reading regularly are endless. But our health? What could reading have to do with how frequently we visit the doctor? It turns out quite a bit, actually.

In fact, a report conducted by the Canadian Council of Learning (CCL) found daily reading to be the greatest determinant in predicting individual health literacy. So does this study suggest that reading makes you healthier? Not exactly, but it does point to a significant correlation – on average, those who read more often are in better health.

This finding pertains to the field of health literacy, which is “skills to enable access, understanding and use of information for health,” as defined by the Canadian Public Health Association. As such, health literacy can encompass everything from taking the correct dosage of a medication, to exercise and healthy eating, to seeking out health services.

Health Literacy is more complex than general literacy. This is also reflected in the CCL study, which shows that 48 percent of Canadians struggle with general literacy, while 60 percent of Canadians have low health literacy. Despite the differences in literacies, it is clear that the numeracy and prose skills involved in general literacy are fundamentally important in people’s ability to grasp often complicated health information.

Here are some other key findings:

  • Six out of ten Canadians do not posses adequate health literacy skills
  • Individuals with low health literacy are found to be 2.5 times more likely to be in only fair or poor health
  • The populations of seniors, immigrants, and the unemployed are most susceptible to inadequate health literacy

These findings are shocking. Take into account the daily struggles faced by individuals with inadequate health literacy and the connection becomes clear.

Health-LitGrocery shopping is a great example. Without the ability to accurately read and understand nutrition labels, how is one supposed to make healthy food choices? Individuals need to be able to understand the implications associated with what they’re eating. How is this possible without the fundamentals of literacy? Well it turns out it isn’t, and that’s exactly what these findings suggest.

A literate society is a healthier society, and for many, the prescription is reading.