Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Literacy Is A Family Affair

by Dale Ho, Ho. RECE

"Let's sound it out together" granddad would say as he sat and read the newspaper with me every chance he got.  

These moments were marked as some of my earliest and most memorable experiences learning to read. 

Time and patience were always his strongest suit and he wore it well. 

I caught up with a few familiar faces to ask them what their most memorable moments were growing up sharing stories with family and how these experiences shaped their love of literacy today.

Timber King André
Most of you will recognize him as Timber King André Chevigny, one of the many faces of HGTV's Timber Kings and General Manager of Pioneer Log Homes of BC, a team responsible for crafting some of what I believe to be the world's most beautiful custom log homes in my humble opinion.

Storytelling has been and continues to be an age old tradition that is handed down from generation to generation and his father often told these stories well; Stories of growing up and of the great outdoors, hunting and fishing...clearly just some of André's earliest and most memorable experiences growing up, stories he now shares with his own family.

Sharing stories connects us all and it is now his love of sharing stories that continues to inspire a generation of leaders to follow; from sharing stories with his own children to sitting in an auditorium filled with eager youth just as he once remembers himself.

Author, Lois Peterson

Author, Lois Peterson has enriched not only our bookshelves but our lives with titles such as; Meeting Miss 405, The Paper House and her latest book; Three GoodThings to name a few of our favorites.

What was her most memorable moment and how did that impact her love of literacy today?

"The day I watched my father recite a John Donne poem to my sleeping infant daughter, I realized that he must have done just the same thing for me when I was a baby, planting in me the seeds of love for words, stories and poetry."

Meet Lorraine!
Meet Lorraine Pond, mom to two busy pre-schoolers who currently lives with her husband and young family in Vancouver, BC. She is also one half of three-time JUNO nominated Canadian children's music duo, Bobs & LoLo. Recently named Canada's Favourite Kids' Entertainer in a nationwide poll by CBC Music, Bobs & LoLo are dedicated to connecting children to nature with music, movement and make-believe.

"What does literacy mean to me?" 

"It sounds odd but I always loved spelling tests in school. I loved the challenge. I loved learning the rules and all the exceptions to the rules like “i before e except after c”. I loved the stickers at the top of the page for a job well done. I loved trying out new vocabulary in conversation with my family and seeing if I could stump anyone on the meaning – particularly my younger brother.

Books and reading were a part of my life long before spelling tests. My mom began taking my brother and I to story-time at the local library when we were very young. I can still recall the excitement of making our book choices and hauling our literary loot up the hill each week. 

I credit my interest and success as an early reader to my mom’s love of books. She always had a novel in hand on family holidays and road trips. By early elementary school, I was an avid reader and flew through book after book by childhood favourites like Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume and Ann M. Martin.

Today, history repeats itself as my husband and I spend time reading to our young children. And my love of words carries over to my professional career as a songwriter, educator and children’s performer. Through song, I use words to express emotion, share stories and teach new ideas. My partner in music, Robyn Hardy (Bobs) and I wrote about the magic of language and literacy for our Action Packed album in a song titled “World of Words”. I’m honoured to share some of the lyrics below in this celebration of literacy."

World of Words by Bobs & LoLo 

Once upon a time they say
Or happily ever after
The moral of the story is
That every word does matter

Nouns and verbs and adjectives
Are just building blocks to me
It’s the magic of the words themselves
That makes me want to read

Fairytales and mysteries
Adventure books and ghost stories
A world of words on every page
Where imagination sets the stage
Novels that are big and small
With practice you can read them all

Each and every book I read
Has a life of its own
The first word only plants the seed
For each story or poem

A book is more than just a thing
It’s like a newfound friend
That I visit every day
Until I reach the end

Fairytales and mysteries
Adventure books and ghost stories
A world of words on every page
Where imagination sets the stage
Novels that are big and small
With practice you can read them all.

Everyone has their very own story, one that's unique to them...

I want to send out a HUGE thank you to André, Lois and Lorraine for sharing theirs with us and being a part of the celebration of Family Literacy Month...Literacy is a family affair.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Sleep: Important For The Whole Family

by Jamie Contarini of Good Night Sleep Site Halton

How much sleep do we need?
The chart below shows you the low, average and high numbers of sleep recommended at different ages.

As our kids get older, they have homework, after school programs, they hang out with their friends - and bedtimes get pushed later and later.  Here are 5 tips for making sure that the whole family is getting the amount of sleep that they need.

Try to get homework out of the way at the start of the night so that your child can relax and take their mind off school for a while before bedtime.

Don’t Overload:
There are so many after school activities to join.  Be careful about registering your child for too many, they need some downtime as well.  An overtired child will have a harder time falling and staying asleep.

This goes for teens and adults as well.  It is very easy to spread yourself thin – take a step back and take a few nights off.

Unplug at least one hour before bedtime:
We are all spending more time on the computer (for fun, for school, for work) and on cell phones – not to mention TV.  Darkness cues our body to start producing melatonin (our sleep hormone) and by staring at the blue light from the screens after the sun has set – we are disrupting that signal.  So turn off the screens and practice a relaxing bedtime routine.  Read a book, colour, tell a story or sit and chat with each other about your day.

Keep the Room Dark:
As mentioned above, darkness cues melatonin; we want to keep the room as dark as possible.  If your child sleeps with a nightlight, make sure that it is not more than 4 watts – and opt for one with a red/orange hue if you can (like the sunset).  During the summer the sun rises so early – so a good set of blinds and curtains can help push out the morning waking.

Tip!  If you have a digital clock, turn it away from the bed or cover the numbers with a cloth.  If you use your cell phone as your alarm clock, plug it in across the room (or outside the door) so that you are not tempted to turn it on throughout the night.

Maintain a Schedule:
As kids get older, bedtimes fluctuate but we want to maintain a 80/20 rule, 80% of the time you protect the earlier bedtime to ensure that they are getting the sleep they need.  Maybe you let them stay up late on Friday or Saturday, get back to your regular bedtime on Sunday for the week.

This goes for adults too.  It is very easy to get caught up in work or that new series on TV – but you need to protect your sleep as well.

Jamie is a certified sleep consultant with Good Night Sleep Site Halton and proud Mamma of two boys.  

She hosts a FREE Q&A every Sunday night on Facebook from 8-9pm and can help you and your family get the sleep they need.
Twitter: GoodNightHalton

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Picky Reader

by Dale Ho, Hon. RECE

A show of hands if you've ever heard any of these words uttered in your household before...

"There's nothing to read!"
"Reading is dumb!"
"How much longer do I have to read?"

I'm sure there are a million more "excuses" for not wanting to read but these come to mind mainly because I've heard them too!

Literacy is a family affair
You'll notice I used quotation marks whilst referencing the word excuses and with good reason. 

Most of the time these "excuses" will have a deeper meaning and are not to be taken at face value, it's time to put on your detective cap and figure out what the underlying cause could be.

Sit and read with them to help determine the cause, are they struggling with sight words, having difficulty decoding or maybe the text is too hard? 

Look for easier books to read, this will give them a chance to not only build on the necessary skills needed to become a successful reader but a confident one.

Why has reading become so boring? Have them pick out a genre that interests them when visiting the library or bookstore. Finding a good series always helps, there will always be plenty to read ;)

Are the books they are reading challenging them enough or too much of a challenge? 

Time constraints can also be the issue especially with kids' growing schedules, help make the TIME to read.

Talk to your child's teacher or a professional in the field to gain more insight. 

Early intervention is key!