Alberta Prairie Classroom On Wheels (C.O.W. Bus)

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When did you learn how to read?

At the Centre for family Literacy, we believe that literacy development begins at birth. Our homes are our first schools and our families are our first teachers. When children see family members study a map, jot down a shopping list, or check the latest sport’s scores, they are learning about print and reading. When they pull their favorite breakfast cereal out of the cupboard, scribble with their crayons, or help turn the pages of their favorite bedtime story, they are already practicing reading and writing skills.

Literacy is an important part of our everyday lives and includes all the skills that we use to get things done. Education, health economy, and community strengthen as we develop our reading, writing, and communication skills. The centre for Family Literacy provides a wide range of adult and family literacy programs in Edmonton, as well as training, resources, information and awareness across Alberta and Canada.

The Alberta Prairie Classroom on wheels has been in operation since 2003 and runs year-round. Its mandate is to visit seventy communities every year, sharing ideas and resources, while building awareness of family literacy across the province. The unique visual presence of the bus also helps to advise local literacy programs and resources.

Local organizations work together with the Centre for Family Literacy to coordinate a C.O.W. Bus visit. Families with young children (ages 0-6) are invited to explore and enjoy the many books and homemade activities that fill the bus. Trained facilitators welcome visitors to the bus and share ideas about early learning and literacy development with families and local literacy practitioners.

The Centre for Family Literacy donates a small library of quality children’s books to each community that it visits. These books are made available to families through libraries and other community agencies. The Alberta Prairie Classroom On Wheels Project is funded by Innovation and Advanced Education.

Pictured: The C.O.W. Bus has arrived at the Pigeon Lake Library. Photo by Christina Komives

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