Why Literacy Is a Game-Changer

 
In 2018, 1.05 billion people of the world’s population were not considered literate. In more digestible terms, 14 of every 100 people are considered illiterate across the globe. Christians have taken it upon themselves to spread spiritual literacy by sending missionaries to the far reaches of the planet. However, refocusing on promoting educational literacy within our own nation would be to our next generation’s benefit.
 
According to Concordia University, two-thirds of students who cannot read at a proficient level by the time they enter the fifth grade will end up in jail or on government welfare support. Literate children have a clear advantage over those not given similar opportunities. It promotes ease within their educational career starting at a very young age and influences their perception of education and potential future careers as well.
 
The reasons for emphasizing literacy though, go beyond success in the classroom and in professional settings. Children who read are children who are able to make informed, wise decisions well into adulthood about their faith, their worldview, and their families.

Literacy and Communication

Putting an emphasis on reading and mathematics in primary school ensures students will not fall behind their peers as they advance throughout their schooling. Once a child falls behind, they may spend the rest of their life trying to catch up — being always one step behind the group is an exhausting way to go through life. You wouldn’t wish that upon any child, or adult for that matter.
 
The ability to be able to effectively communicate stems from literacy skills. The ability to communicate well has ramifications that extend into all major areas of life. Not only do kids who communicate well inevitably do better in the classroom, and then in their careers, they reap the rewards in even more important ways.
 

Communication in Matters of Faith

As we grow in our faith system, it’s important we’re able to communicate well with mentors and friends who are helping us along; the ability to appropriately express areas of confusion or concern is what allows others to effectively come alongside us and respond in helpful ways.
 
Additionally, it allows us to better convey and share our beliefs. Whether an individual is attempting to share with a friend who comes from a different worldview, or they are trying to communicate with family members about areas of dispute, being able to communicate well is a game-changer. The issues that one’s faith impacts are far-reaching and often controversial to others. Children who are given the foundational pieces to good communication skills will have a leg-up in a world that often seems to prefer confusion and controversy over clarity.

Improving Creativity

In addition to communication, creativity and literacy are also inherently connected to one another. Exposing students to the different worlds that reside within books enables them to experience new and dynamic ways of knowing. Both nonfiction and fiction books can play a vital role in provoking thought, creativity, and imagination.
 
TED presenter Ken Robinson believes creativity is like a strong muscle — if you don’t use it, you lose it. You may think some people are born naturally more creative than others. Although this may be true in some cases, literacy can further provoke creative thought.
 
Take a moment and imagine a world without artists, musicians, magicians, and explorers. Creative minds are those who bring beauty into the world and imagine the unimaginable. Improving your creative brain enables you to be of service to others within your community of faith and within your neighborhood.
 
Teams in many different realms of research and productivity are constantly seeking out innovative minds to bring a fresh, new feel to their environments. The springboard literacy gives creativity is a surefire way to ensure our communities and churches continue to innovate and problem-solve alongside the rest of culture; it’s an important tool in making sure churches do not become antiquated parts of their communities.

Getting a Head Start

Whether you are an educator, Sunday school teacher or a parent, there are a number of ways for you to help expose younger children to reading and writing.
 
Take into account the following:
 
*Letter knowledge: In the very beginning, just starting with emphasizing the use of each individual letter in writing and speech is extremely helpful to literacy development.
* Print motivation: Reading picture books empowers children to read along with you and attempt to create their own versions of the story.
* Word placement: Pointing at the words as you read them encourages kids to read along and to understand we read left to right, top to bottom.
* Phonological awareness: When students are attempting to read larger words, help them to break them down into smaller words.
* Vocabulary: Encourage kids to use different words to describe the things they see and how they are feeling in an effort to expand their vocabulary.
* Narrative skills: There is always more than one way to tell a story. Have students retell stories in their own words to help them to learn how to communicate chronologically and in detail.
 
Literacy goes beyond just simply knowing how to read, write, speak, and listen. It allows you to communicate effectively and apply the skills previously listed as a means of discerning the world around you. The next generation has been labeled as “digital natives,” meaning they are more comfortable online than any generation before them. Using that to their advantage by engaging in educational programs could help to propel their literacy and learning in ways we have not yet fully experienced.

Quite literally, literacy is a game-changer. It is never too late in life to learn these essential skills to grow in your faith, to enrich your own life, and possibly others’ lives as well.

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