Cultivating a love of reading is critical to helping students succeed, discover their gifts, and develop into confident, well-rounded adults.
Holly Fontaine, a library specialist at MFNERC’s Instructional Resource Centre, is part of a team that assists educators to teach literacy from a First Nations perspective. As part of the Centre’s efforts to support educators in developing an interest in reading among First Nations students, Fontaine travels to many communities throughout Manitoba hosting Family Literacy Days.
“This program isn’t offered anywhere else in Manitoba for First Nations schools,” said Fontaine. “It’s unique because a lot of First Nations don’t have access to public libraries so we are able to provide a service that brings children and their families in to look at libraries in a different way.”
Fontaine understands that communities play a critical role in nurturing young learners. She designs fun and creative activities to encourage participation from individuals outside of the school environment.
Equipped with suitcases stuffed with her handmade culture- and language-appropriate teaching aids, literacy related kits and other materials, Fontaine and her team of volunteers (usually teachers, educational assistants and older students) erect about a dozen learning centres at the schools she visits. In addition to teachers and students, parents, Elders and other community members are invited to participate in the reading activities.
“Rather than just coming in and signing out a book, they are able to come in and do some interactive activities, move around and have fun, as they move from one centre to the next,” she said.
The Family Literacy Day program seems to be making an impact as the Instructional Resource Centre receives numerous requests for school visits. Fontaine, a former early years teacher, loves her job and looks forward to every opportunity to visit our First Nations.
If you would like more information on the Family Literacy Day program or to find out how it can be brought to your community, please contact Holly Fontaine at firstname.lastname@example.org, 204-594-1290 ext. 2174
Read another story about one of Fontaine’s visits to Tataskwayak Cree Nation. http://mfnerc.org/newsletter/having-fun-in-tatskwyak/