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Classroom calendar to guide language, literacy development

Classroom calendar to guide language, literacy development
Speech-language pathology project offers tips for early childhood educators

by Jessica Whiteside

May 3, 2021 -- An innovative classroom calendar, developed with U of T expertise, will be helping educators across Canada improve the language and literacy skills of preschool children.

The 16-month Canadian Language and Literacy Calendar - developed in partnership by U of T, The Hanen Centre (an organization that helps children with or at risk for language delays) and The Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network - gives quick tips about activities that child care professionals can use to aid language and literacy development. While thousands of copies of the colourfully illustrated calendar will be distributed to early childhood educators and speech language pathologists across Canada, a version that can be downloaded will be available at

U of T speech-language pathology professor Luigi Girolametto said he was inspired by the popularity of the milk calendar to use a similar concept to keep educators up to date on the latest findings on language development. Addressing language difficulties early in a child's development is vital, he said, because language is a building block for a number of skills in the areas of social interactions, literacy and academic learning.

"It's a big prevention project," he said of the new calendar, launched April 30. "A number of children are at risk for social and environmental reasons. Child care educators may notice them because they may interact infrequently with other children or have impoverished vocabulary or may not have full sentence construction so that they sound immature."

The calendar tips arose from a 2002 research symposium in Toronto that brought together U.S. and Canadian experts in language and literacy development. The calendar lists web links where educators can learn more about the research behind the user-friendly tips.

"We're hoping people will access it widely," said Girolametto, adding that although many of the activities are set up for group interactions, parents may find some of the ideas useful as well. One of the calendar's strongest messages is the value of having conversations with children, said Girolametto. The bilingual calendar also addresses issues of linguistic and cultural diversity.

"Reaching children who are learning English as a second language is especially important because their language skills will impact how successfully they transition into school," said Girolametto. "Some learn quickly; others need more support."

Michelle Lintott, an early childhood educator and a program manager at The Hanen Centre, said the calendar will remind early childhood educators what they can do throughout the day - not just at story time - to enrich children's language and literacy. "Some of them are so simple, just getting face to face with a child," she said.

Jessica Whiteside is a news services officer with the department of public affairs.


U of T Public Affairs, ph: (416) 978-5948; e-mail:

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LAST MODIFIED: November 04 2004 20:45:35

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