An existing family literacy program in Guelph is adding a partnership with Immigrant Services, intended to encourage parents and caregivers of children up to the age of six to learn to read together.
The Early Start Family Literacy Program is offered by Action Read at five sites across the city that are served by Action Read, including the addition this week to Immigrant Services on Dawson Road.
Each site supports up to 15 families for the free program, said Mira Clarke, executive director of Action Read.
The program will be offered from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. On Fridays at the Immigrant Services location.
Each site has its own schedule. For more information, or to check if a site is full, call 519-836-2759.
The program is open to any parent or caregiver with children up to the age of six.
Caregivers may also include grandparents, aunts, uncles or other family members.
Clarke said it was quite common for people enrolled in the agency’s adult reading program to say they grew up never having seen their parents read.
In addition to fostering literacy and lifelong learning for the child, Clarke said learning with a parent or caregiver can be a bonding experience.
The program encourages play-based learning, which Clarke said is important with fostering early literacy.
“It also gives them the tools and strategies to support learning outside of the program,” said Clarke.
The Early Start instructors are teachers or early-childhood educators, said Clarke, and able to recognize learning, speech-language and developmental challenges that may require additional supports and referrals.
The program helps young children to make successful transitions to school by helping them obtain early learning skills, social skills and routines.
The program is not limited to people who are new to Canada, said Brenda MacDonald, Action Read family literacy coordinator.
“When families experience the pressures of a new language, as well as a new cultural, social and employment context, providing additional supports becomes critical. To this end, Action Read is delighted to contribute to the fantastic work already being done at Immigrant Services to support families,” said MacDonald.
The program is not limited to people who are new to Canada, said Clarke. A mix of newcomers and established families helps build community.
“It’s all about creating community links and roots, creating partnerships and mentorships,” she said.