Published: October 21, 2019
There is no city in North America quite like Montreal. Famous for its relaxed pace of life, romantic architecture, and refined culture, the city’s bilingualism and biculturalism help it to stand out in a country where English and French tend to be geographically divided. No wonder Montrealers are so fond of their home!
But while Montreal can be a great place to raise a family, parents in bilingual cities like Montreal face special challenges — especially if they are part of the Anglophone minority. That’s why Prep Academy Tutors works with a number of talented and professional literacy specialists in Montreal who can help you make sure your children develop strong reading and writing skills early in life.
For most people, developing literacy skills is a lifelong process, one we never really stop working on, which is why it is so critical to give kids a strong foundation they can build off of. If you are looking for ways you can promote literacy in your own home, here are a few of the things you can do to help give your kids a head start.
1. Model Good Reading Habits
As any experienced English teacher will tell you, it’s easy to tell the difference between kids who read at home and kids who don’t. The single best way to develop strong literacy skills is to spend a significant portion of time every day reading, and kids who read for pleasure will have a natural advantage over those who don’t.
And if you want to get your kids to pick up books — especially if they are between the ages of five and ten — one of the most effective ways to do that is to read yourself. Young children will often mimic their parents’ behaviour as they explore the world around them, so if you want your kids to have good reading habits, normalizing reading as a leisure activity can have a powerful impact.
Parents are busier than ever, of course, and it isn’t always going to be possible to spend as much time reading as you might like, but even half an hour a day can make a difference by showing your kids that there are entertainment alternatives to watching television, playing computer games, or spending time on one’s phone.
But if you have young children at home and really want to get them hooked on reading, there is simply no better way to do so than by reading to them before bed. Scientific studies have shown that this has value far beyond helping to cultivate literacy: it also helps them developing longer attention spans, feel more connection to you as a parent, and improves behaviour.
2. Talk About What You Read
Getting your child to read is the first part of the battle, but it isn’t he entirety of it — if you want to help them develop the kind of critical reading skills that will help them succeed in school and in life, you also need to find ways to encourage them to interact with the material they are reading.
Checking in regularly about what books they are reading and what they think of them is an easy and practical way to help them think through what they are consuming. This can be as simple as asking them to recount the major plot points of a the story, or can involve detailed discussions about how the stories make them feel and what they like or dislike about what they’re reading.
In some families, this happens fairly informally — around the dinner table, perhaps, or while commuting to and from school or after-school activities. But if this kind of conversation doesn’t come naturally to your kids, you can make it an aspect of the daily routine to ask them a few questions about what they have read, what they have liked, and what they think about it.
Not only will this serve as a good way to develop critical reading skills, it will also help them express their opinions in constructive and thoughtful ways, and develop confidence in their own ideas.
3. Encourage Your Kids to Express Creativity Through Writing
Most advice about cultivating literacy in children focuses heavily on reading, the assumption being that learning good reading habits will naturally impact one’s abilities to communicate using writing. And while it is certainly true that kids who read tend to find that writing comes more naturally, it’s no substitute for time spent actually writing.
But how do you get an active child with so many other distractions in their life to sit down and start composing? If it can be a challenge to get kids reading, getting them to write something of their own should be next to impossible, right?
Fortunately, the technology-saturated world of the twenty-first century actually offers a lot of opportunities for kids to develop their abilities as writers and their own distinct writing voices. Thanks to text, chat, and internet apps, writing has remained an immediately applicable skill, and getting a young person to write more doesn’t necessarily mean sitting them down to compose something longhand using paper and a pen.
But one of the best ways to make writing more appealing to young children is to encourage them to see it as a means to expressing themselves and exercising their creativity. Writing their own stories and poems, creating captions for pictures online, and even writing plays they can perform with their friends are all ways young kids can develop an appreciation for the beauty and complexity of written language, an appreciation that will make them more likely to spend time on activities that will improve their abilities as written communicators.
4. Get Help from a Private Tutor
While there are lots of things you can do to make reading and writing a bigger part of everyday life for you and your kids, sometimes there is no substitute for structured education, especially if your child is facing particular struggles mastering the basics of reading and writing.
In situations like this, hiring a private tutor in Montreal with experience teaching and a strong knowledge of the pedagogical tools that can be used to help develop literacy skills can be the most effective way to get your kids reading and writing as soon as possible.
One of the most common challenges students face when learning to read and write in the classroom is accessing the kind of one-on-one help that is essential for helping students overcome their own particular struggles, and while Quebec’s education system remains one of Canada’s strongest, the teacher shortage is having an impact on the amount of hands-on instruction individual students can expect to receive. Hiring a tutor can provide students having difficulties mastering the English curriculum with a vital life-line that can mean the difference between a passing grade and a failing one.
At Prep Academy Tutors, we champion a one-on-one approach designed to target the particular problems individual kids are facing. We also understand that tackling difficult subject material can be a little scary, especially for younger children, which is why our tutors offer lessons in your home, where students will feel more relaxed and comfortable. If you want to learn more about how we work you can get in touch with us about our Montreal English tutoring program today.
There are many benefits to raising your children in a bilingual environment. Not only will it give your child the natural advantage when it comes to picking up a second language, according to some scientific studies, it can also make it easier for children to switch between tasks and learn other languages later in life.
But one of the drawbacks of growing up bilingual can be a lack of full proficiency in either language. If a child only speaks English in the home but goes to a French-language school (or vice versa), they will tend to have a bifurcated vocabulary in which their language proficiency changes depending on the context.
For example, a child might be completely comfortable discussing domestic or family-related matters in English, while not being able to talk in any great detail about work-related issues for which they only ever use French.
If you are concerned about ensuring that your child develops the literacy skills they need for effective communication in English, call us to learn more about how we can provide the kind of personally tailored approach kids need in order to master reading and writing.
Whether you are looking for tutoring support for high school students preparing for admission to one of Montreal’s prestigious universities, or want to make sure your children get a head start on reading and writing at the primary level, Prep Academy Tutors can get you the teaching help you need to set your kids up for a lifetime of academic and personal success.