Greetings Cards and Shopping Lists: The Key to Child Literacy?
A study published on International Literacy Day (September 8) has uncovered evidence that teaching children how to read and write using traditional methods, such as greetings cards, is a powerful vehicle for boosting literacy skills.
The study found 40% of five year olds in the UK enjoy sending cards because it enables them to practise their handwriting, whilst over one-third of under 12s said they like receiving cards to practice reading (37%). The research was commissioned by Hallmark as it launches a campaign in conjunction with the World Literacy Foundation to boost reading and writing skills in schools using real life examples.
Sue Palmer, literacy expert and author of Toxic Childhood, commented: “Today’s children have so many high-tech ways of accessing information, it can be difficult to interest them in ‘old-fashioned’ literacy. But unless children actually want to read, they’re unlikely to put in the effort. Endless lessons in ‘phonics’ and ‘comprehension’ won’t make them any keener. In contrast, by involving children in day-to-day literacy activities such as writing shopping lists, reading street signs and birthday cards, and keeping it all as playful as possible, you can lay the foundations for reading and writing.”
Meanwhile, statistics from the World Literacy Foundation show three in 10 children in the UK do not own any books and one in five children globally cannot read and write.
Jade Lane, senior project manager at the World Literacy Foundation, said: “The study by Hallmark clearly shows that children want to practise their reading and writing using traditional methods, such as greetings cards. We’re confident that by introducing more everyday ways to learn, children will pick up these skills much more naturally.”
With this in mind, Hallmark has partnered with the World Literacy Foundation to develop a downloadable pack on its website for school teachers so they can integrate reading and writing using greetings cards into their lesson plans. It is being trialled on International Literacy Day at Whitefield Primary School in Liverpool, which has been awarded ‘Reading Recovery School of the Year’ three years running. 23 different languages are spoken at this school and its pupils come from a range of countries, including Syria, Pakistan and Italy.