The blog

Suprising Perceptions on Parenting and Literacy

on May 2, 2012

I recently attended a community engagement event hosted by the City Department of Human Service. It was a presentation to parents about storytelling. The purpose was to educate parents about the importance of storytelling to one’s children. There were only 6 people in attendance, two with children. I was surprised at how few people there were. At least there were six, I thought.
As we practiced telling stories, I heard some parents complain about not having time to tell stories to their children daily. We’re not talking about reading here, we’re talking about TALKING. The parents in general seemed well educated. I was then astounded that these parents didn’t seem to feel that talking to their children and telling stories was something that they should do often.
Then the jawdropper… One parent, with 3 academic degrees, said, “I don’t want to teach her how to read, she can learn it in school. I’m not qualified to do that. She should just be playing now.” Her child was maybe 3 years old. She was not convinced that teaching her child to read early, or working on early literacy skills was important. She thought it would take time away from play. Looking at the statistics on literacy from the Education statistics from the US Government, it seems that 97% of all children show up in Kindergarten without any idea what literacy is.
I do not have any peers who did not know how to read a single word when they started kindergarten. Maybe some perceptions that can be changed are:
Why not think of reading as play? Why do parents feel they cannot teach their children? Why should parents trust schools to teach the MOST IMPORTANT SKILL, which teaches your child to become an independent thinker? Anyone else think that family (parents) are the best able to teach their children reading AND storytelling?

2 Responses to “Suprising Perceptions on Parenting and Literacy”

  1. om says:

    My experience is that many teachers complain about lack of involvement but don’t recognize how disempowering the school system really can be.

    Parents are non-experts in a world where trusting your gut isn’t reliably scientific enough. Added to that are time constraints along with competition from hyperkinetic media.

    Mundane curriculum and overworked teachers who often don’t have the free space to be creative produce a child at the end of a day who can’t remember much of what they did, let alone discuss it.

    Parenting, storytelling, teaching all require time to collect, reflect and appreciate. Multimedia interaction through ‘living books’ has the potential to bring us back to more thoughtful interactions by making literacy a discovery process for parent and child.

  2. angela says:

    Good points, om! Children are born to trust their parents. Perhaps it is due to an innate quest for self-identity or needing to use their parents as a filter to understand the world vicariously. Parents can be the most effective teachers for their children.

Leave a Reply