First 5 Forever Family Literacy Program
Worryingly, the importance of reading, singing and rhyme isn’t well understood in Queensland. It’s prompted the State Government to support the First 5 Forever literacy program. Run through public libraries, First 5 Forever is about improving the outcomes for all Queensland children 0-5 years by supporting confidence around communication and learning through everyday experiences.
According to the government, data shows more than one quarter of Queensland children are developmentally vulnerable – or at risk – in areas including language and cognitive skills. The state is ranked sixth in the country.
More than one third of parents with children aged between zero and two do not regularly read to their children. And more than half of parents with children aged between three and eight do not regularly read to their children. Research shows that kids who are surrounded by conversation and reading will have a better vocabulary at the age of four. And vocabulary at age four is highly correlated to reading comprehension in grade four.
First 5 Forever aims to provide strong emergent literacy foundations and life-long learning capabilities for all Queensland children 0-5 years, by directly supporting parents and primary caregivers as their child’s first and most important educator
The First 5 Forever program
It’s easy to point out the challenge. But not everyone feels comfortable and confident reading to their kids. So where can Brisbane families get support and guidance?
Brisbane libraries are the place to go. The First 5 Forever program which kicked off in January 2015 at 320 libraries across the state involves:
- Expanded baby bounce, rhyme time and storytelling sessions.
- Information tool kits for parents and caregivers.
- An awareness program.
- Support for early childhood sector workers.
Free Sessions for kids at your Local Libraries
The website for your local library will have a timetable with details for reading and rhyming sessions. They’re free, relaxed and fun.
The Babies, Books and Rhyme classes involve reading, singing popular nursery rhymes, clapping and movements. They’re ideal for babies and young toddlers. All of those rhymes and will come flooding back to parents! They are also a great opportunity to be part of something happening your local community with parents, with kids, of the same ages. It presents a great alternative to mothers groups and a chance to make new friends.
Children’s Storytime sessions include interactive storytelling and songs for children, ideally aged between two and five years old. See all library events here.
Tips to encourage childhood literacy
- Regular reading is important
- Pointing out objects and talking to babies throughout your day is a great start
- Communicating is a two way street. Listen for response whether talking to babies or early readers
- Purchase quality reading materials
- Let your children see you reading, encourage the behaviour you want to see. Make it clear that reading is important to your family.
The Raising Children Network has great information on the importance of reading to children, what to read and how.
- Center on the Developing Child (2009). Five Numbers to Remember About Early Childhood Development (Brief).http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/five-numbers-to-remember-about-early-childhood-development/