Parents and caregivers play a crucial role in their children’s literacy and numeracy development, both before and after, they start school. The foundations of literacy – phonological awareness, vocabulary and oral language – begin to develop in the early years of life, before children begin formal reading instruction at school. Numeracy fosters itself in the daily activities of the child – from comparing the volume of milk in the bottle to the number of snacks they have in relation to others around them.

The home environment is where the child’s first learning experiences take place. This has a measurable effect on their later learning experiences in the classroom. Recent studies have revealed that children’s emergent literacy and numeracy skills significantly predict their test scores in later years, reinforcing the importance of home environments on a child’s literacy and numeracy development and reading achievement. Engaging children in play-based activities is highly encouraged as research has shown that literacy and numeracy games enhances children’s development of phonological awareness, vocabulary and oral language, reading abilities, counting and addition and subtraction knowledge. Playing word games, using rhymes to explore the sound structure of the English language, and teaching children about the alphabet, phonics and phonetics, and playing mathematically inclined games is a good start. Parents can also enhance their children’s vocabulary and oral language through informal activities such as investing in educational toys instead of video games, reading books together and taking them to the local library, museums and art exhibitions. One of the most effective things parents can do to enhance their children’s literacy skills is to talk to them, engaging them in listening, questioning tactics and answering questions. Once children entre the formal school system parents can continue to foster the reading development of their children by maintaining shared reading activities, ensuring that their children have reading material at the appropriate levels and monitoring their progress.