What is Literacy & Why is it Important?
Literacy is an individual’s ability to read, write, and speak in English, and compute and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job and in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential
–National Literacy Act, 1991
Proliteracy has some alarming facts regarding the link between a lack of basic literacy skills and academic failure, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, delinquency, unemployment, low productivity, and welfare dependence later in life.
According to Pearson Education, children who read for enjoyment every day not only perform better in reading tests than those who don’t, but also develop a broader vocabulary, increased general knowledge, and a better understanding of other cultures.
In fact, reading for pleasure is more likely to determine whether a child does well at school than their social or economic background.
Our solution to this is found through focused one on one intervention, child-specific plans for success, and, most importantly, support of reading skills at home.
Reading is part of a language hierarchy.
This knowledge is what children use to build their basic vocabulary and language skills. As children become more skilled and receive formal instruction, they are able to place the abstract sounds of our language and the letters that represent them together to create meaning or written words. On top of spoken language, we have writing – symbols put on top of the verbal language skills.
If a child experiences difficulties anywhere in this hierarchy, higher level skills, such as reading and writing, will typically suffer. This is why children who have speech or language difficulties as preschoolers are at a higher risk of having learning problems in school, particularly when learning to read.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, which is the national governing organization for speech-language pathologists and audiologists, encourages Speech-Language Pathologists to use reading-based activities within speech-language therapy.
ASHA also recognizes the importance of reading and writing as language skills, and places them within the scope of practice for a speech-language therapist to address with clients. Here at Spark, we believe that Speech and Literacy can, and should, come together for many children.
Literacy at Spark Therapies.
Spark Therapies provides free literacy screenings for children and teens aged 5-21. Our screenings are based around age and grade and cover basic information such as letter formation, nonsense word fluency, reading fluency, and more. We also offer reading-writing evaluations and continuous intervention services.
If a child does not pass the initial screening then they are recommended to our Literacy Specialist who will then conduct a full literacy evaluation. This evaluation takes roughly 30-45 minutes and emphasizes areas that the child struggled with during the screening. After thoroughly assessing where the needs are, the literacy specialist will develop the child’s goals and work with the family to make a plan to achieve those goals. Children may be re-assessed at the family’s request at any time and progress screenings are a regular part of their plan to track the progress the child is making in the program.
What else can I do to support my child?
Here at Spark, our therapists and specialists encourage family involvement and may ask you to work on certain areas at home with your child to ensure that the progress made in therapy sticks. If you are ever looking for more to do to support your child’s therapy goals, feel free to ask your child’s therapist or specialist. Here are a couple of ideas and resources to get you started:
- Providing books to children is a simple, effective, and inexpensive way to promote language and literacy growth. Owning books is a critical feature of every child’s intellectual development.
- Reading aloud to children is the single most effective parent practice for enhancing language and literacy development.
- Per PageHead, Children with books at home are eight times more likely to list reading as one of their favorite activities.
If you cannot afford or choose not to purchase books, look at your local library, online (Amazon Kindle has an assortment of low-priced e-books and physical copies), your child’s school, or local second-hand book stores.
Grantham’s local library is the Dunbar Free Library located at: P.O. Box 1580, 401 Route 10 South, Grantham, NH 03753. They have a wonderful children’s section and those that volunteer there are a great resource for book recommendations. Spark Therapies also has a small library of some of our favorite books that you and your family are always welcome to check out or even stop by and read in our reading tent.
To schedule a literacy screening, evaluation, or therapy session or learn more about our reading and writing services, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 603-843-8462.
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