Blog

12 Jul 2016

Criss Cross Applesauce in the Community

Over the past year, READ Saskatoon’s Family Literacy team delivered our new, parent-and-preschooler program, Criss-Cross Applesauce. It was developed by READ Saskatoon staff and focusses on the development of early literacy skills at home to get little ones ready to put on that first backpack, do up those Velcro shoes, and head off to school.

As a facilitator, I felt very lucky to be learning alongside such a diverse group of families. I learned that choosing to collaborate with the right community organization enhances the experience for all involved. The welcoming, ‘retired’ folks at the Westside Community Centre (you’ll never meet a busier bunch of people!) worked very hard to support the program. They helped with recruitment of families and provided space, healthy snacks and lovely volunteers. By hosting the program, the centre was able to offer families access to the services that they provide and READ Saskatoon’s Family Literacy team now has a new volunteer after her experience with the program. The Westside Community Centre connected young families with older adults and created an intergenerational environment for us all to play in.

I was also able to see, first-hand, the ways that family literacy programs impact the families that attend the program and the impact on those families at home. So, even though I’m very proud to say we spent 40 learning hours with 22 adults and 23 children, I’m just as proud to think about the ripple effect that touches other family members.

"I was pleased that some of the literacy games I have brought home have inspired my husband. He was mostly playing physical games, like wrestling, now with some of the fun literacy games we have learned here at Criss-Cross Applesauce, he relies less on me and is confident to start up the literacy games at home."

The program sessions reflect the education, expertise, and the passion for learning and the joy with which READ Saskatoon approaches family literacy programming. One of my favourite activities included in the Criss-Cross Applesauce program is the journal activity. Grown-ups and kids sit together with markers and crayons and their very own blank book. We provide a journal suggestion if a little inspiration is needed, but otherwise, it is up to the families what their journal looks like. At the beginning, there was some skepticism as to what some of the younger participants (1.5 years to 2 years) could possibly get out of an exercise like this, but by the end, it was an anticipated and pleasurable activity. We also now had a real-time record of the progress that the kids had made (in a very short time!) in developing their fine motor and writing skills and we used this information while talking about strategies for supporting school readiness. One child learned how to draw circles as a new skill, another would tell animated stories about her drawings as her father wrote some key words under the pictures so they could re-tell the stories to mom at home. (I made the mistake of commenting on how much I loved the picture of the fishy and was told in no uncertain terms that it was a chicken! I apparently have a lot to learn about art.) Yet another child’s journal became a father’s day present for a parent who couldn’t come to the program. It was an exercise that yielded a daily discovery for both families and facilitators!

Check the website for upcoming program dates and locations. 

Catherine Harrison 
READ Saskatoon

No-fee programs like this are offered to anyone thanks to the incredible support of our donors. You, too, can become a donor and help support literacy in our community.

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