Language for life: Enabling health and wellbeing through literacy success
Positive health and life outcomes are strongly associated with higher levels of literacy, particularly in technologically enhanced health-care systems. Health literacy begins with early literacy success. Yet in some areas of Canterbury more than 60% of children start school with low levels of oral language placing them at risk for persistent literacy difficulties. A team of researchers at the Child Well-being Research Institute, University of Canterbury are developing the Better Start Literacy Approach which systematically advances the most efficient and effective ways to accelerate early literacy development.. Understanding the relationship between early literacy and healthy wellbeing, within the context of children’s whānau and community, is a critical part of the research. This project will add to aligned research with children aged 3- 6 years, their teachers and whānau through the advancement of innovative online monitoring oral language assessments. The ability for these game-like and culturally appropriate assessments to reliably monitor the development of children’s cognitive skills in areas critical to literacy learning will be investigated. The research is focused on children with speech-language impairment, those at risk for dyslexia/ learning difficulties, and those who have low levels of oral language. Early literacy success for these children will be a powerful enabler to improved life-long health outcomes.