Linda Dickson

PALSing around

Literacy program helps connect parents with classroom learning

Literacy program helps connect parents with classroom learning

In the kindergarten classroom at Mount Begbie Elementary, the children are playing. At one table, they’re building things out of Lego. Elsewhere, painting stations are set up. On the carpet, another child plays with blocks.

Their parents are with them.

They are taking part in the first of four PALS sessions of the school year. PALS, which stands for Parents and Literacy Supporters, is a program that engages parents with their children to support their literacy development. It is run at all four elementary schools in Revelstoke. The program is put on by the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy in partnership with the Revelstoke School District.

“A lot of the program is about working with parents and ensuring that parents have the tips, tools and strategies for supporting learning at home,” Tracy Spannier, the community literacy co-ordinator. “The whole idea is to link the learning that’s going on in school with the learning the parents can be doing with their children at home.”

The theme of the first session is linking literacy in planning. “Any time they’re playing there’s learning going on,” said teacher Linda Dixon.

Spannier elaborated on that idea. “Throughout that theme we’re talking to parents about what exactly children are learning while they’re playing,” she said. “We talk about the social aspect where they’re learning to share and learning to use their language. We talk about spacial orientation when they’re playing with puzzles, imagination development, vocabulary use – all those things that tie in to their early literacy development.”

The second PALS session, to be held in November, looks at the ABCs. Children will be given papers with their names spelled out in glue, said Dixon. They will then sprinkle on Jello powder. The idea is to get them to recognize the shapes of various letters.

The third session, held in January, looks at numbers and basic math. The final session, in May, is on reading. Children are sent out to look at symbols in the community, such as stop signs.

“The more pre-knowledge we have of what words mean, the easier it is to learn to read,” said Spannier.

An important element to the program is that parents are involved. They are invited into the classroom, take part in workshops and are sent home with a kit so they can continue the activities at home.