Literacy Improves a Family’s Life

“I came to Canada to provide my daughter with opportunities to succeed in life…community-based literacy was our first step towards success in this country.”

Parents will do almost anything for their children, especially when it comes to giving them a better start at life. Parents spend thousands of dollars on education, music lessons, and sports to give their child an edge in a very competitive world.  Read about how a mother has taken this notion to new lengths.

Four years ago Rajeeta Samala and her husband packed up their family and travelled thousands of miles to Canada. Why? So their daughter Sahithi – which literally translates to “literature” – could receive a better education.

“I came to Canada to provide my daughter with opportunities she would not receive in some of the other countires we’ve lived in,” says Rajeeta. “Literacy is very important to me and my family – it provides us with the skills we need to live in today’s complex society.”

It’s no surprise that Rajeeta is passionate about literacy and education. She is a former teacher and she comes from a family and culture that values education. Here in Burnaby, she currently works in the literacy field assessing adult learners at the South Burnaby Neighbourhood House. She also teaches ESL as a volunteer in her community and she is engaged in tutor training.

Rajeeta’s passion has trickled down to Sahithi, who was introduced to literacy at an early age. Mom and dad would read to her at three months, which according to Rajeeta “…was not a very famous practice in our culture.” Her parents also involved her in board games such as Scrabble and let her help with crossword puzzles. “We play a game every day where we give one another cues to a word and the other has to try and figure it out…she loves it.”

Today, Sahithi is as passionate about literacy as her mom and from all accounts, the early introduction to literacy has paid off. “Sahithi is a strong reader and loves reading to other children, she gets them all together and reads to them daily.”

Sahihi, who once received support from the ESL program in her school, loves reading, creating word games, and helping her mom at work, where she can be found volunteering her time reading to children or helping her mom with lesson plan ideas for her ESL class.

Sahithi is thriving in and out of school and she has taken on several new interests such as dissecting films and stories to see how they are developed. She has also become a little teacher herself and loves helping her mom prepare powerpoints and presentations, skills that she learned in school. “She loves playing the teacher and I love watching her. Literacy has given her the gift of confidence and being direct, she can find the words she’s looking for and now she always looks for the main point – and gets to it.”

Next on the list for the two literacy enthusiasts is tackling other languages. Rajeeta is teaching Sahithi to read in her native Indian language and Canada’s official second language – French. For mom, not having literacy as part of their daily family activities is just not an option. “There is no end to learning and life without learning tends to get stagnated.”

There are many benefits to practicing literacy as a family and as Rajeeta and Sahithi have discovered those benefits extend beyond the home.

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