I am a firm believer in the concept that reading is the cornerstone of all learning, the foundation on which a child's education is built upon. One of the ways we tried to be proactive in helping our kids to learn was by participating in our school district's Parents as Teachers program, which reinforces their eponymous concept from pregnancy through school age. Unfortunately, in our area PAT only has funding to spend three years with each family- meaning that Jasper stopped getting the home visits when he was about a year old since Roo had them one to three. We still keep in touch with our parent educators and believe strongly in the program. In many communities, there are early childhood programs, such as California's First 5 initiative. Definitely ask around and see what is available in your area.
I was trying to give you an impression about how strongly literacy ties into my personal volunteer efforts and our family life in order to give you some background on why I will be attending the National Conference on Family Literacy, which starts tomorrow in San Antonio. Collective Bias has asked me to attend the conference to give the National Center for Family Literacy some perspective on outreach to non-educators. They are hoping to use the power of social media to bring their message of collaborative and ongoing family learning into our homes directly, so that their powerful literacy tools can be accessed without being dependent on funding from grants and sponsorships. As parents, one of your most important roles is as your child's first educator, and that is something that is unfortunately overlooked too often. Teachers are not the only ones who teach! It's a simple enough idea but one that cannot be overemphasized.
I am so excited to attend this conference! This will be the 19th annual National Conference on Family Literacy and the lineup of speakers is stellar. Michael Oher and Collins Tuohy, the real life inspiration behind the Academy Award winning film The Blind Side (he is the central character and she is his adoptive sister), will be speaking about the power of family support in learning.
Byron Pitts, author of Step Out on Nothing: How Faith and Family Helped Me Conquer Life's Challenges, will discuss growing up with a debilitating stutter and overcoming functional illiteracy to become a CBS news correspondent and Emmy award-winning journalist.
Monica Holloway is the author of Cowboy and Wills, the story of how adopting a puppy changed her autistic son's life and learning style.
As a blogger, I am perhaps most excited to hear Sir Ken Robinson, PhD literacy advocate and author of The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, speak about working with families to meet 21st century education needs and technology’s role in doing so. He is a well known speaker on creativity and innovation and I am sure his lecture will be thought provoking and the start of many conversations.
I will try to recap what I learn each day at the National Conference on Family Literacy and pass the knowledge along. If you want to join in the conversation in real time, please use hashtag #famliteracy on Twitter.
Disclosure: My travel, lodging and conference expenses are being provided but no additional compensation. I am grateful to Collective Bias and the National Center for Family Literacy for this opportunity to keep learning.