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September 24, 2021

Winnipeg doctors bring early literacy into the exam room with Early Words/Premiers mots

More about Early Words

For families with little ones who are patients of Sterling Lyon Pediatrics or Manitoba Clinic, some visits to the doctor now include a conversation about literacy – and a children’s book to take home.

These Winnipeg clinics have recently joined the Canadian Children’s Literacy Foundation’s new Early Words/Premiers mots program.

“We are passionate about literacy,” said Dr. Jina Pagura, Pediatrician, Sterling Lyon Pediatrics. “Language and reading make up a large part of how kids interact with the world and are key elements of child development. The Early Words program helps us to support families with their children’s language and early literacy development, and it is incredibly rewarding.”

Hear more about Sterling Lyon Pediatrics’ experience in this video.

Early Words provides healthcare professionals with training, tips and tools to bring early literacy guidance into their practice. This, in turn, helps to give families the support and information they need to give their babies and young children a strong start on their reading journey.

“Through Early Words, we support healthcare providers so they can guide families on reading, talking and singing with their little ones at home. Surrounding babies and small children with words helps their brains to develop the foundation they need to learn to read when they are older,” said Ariel Siller, CEO of the Canadian Children’s Literacy Foundation. “We are delighted that Sterling Lyon Pediatrics and Manitoba Clinic have joined Early Words as the first Manitoba sites, and we are excited to add more clinics from across Canada in the coming months.”

The Early Words program is growing

Early Words launched in Iqaluit in 2020 and is now operating in 12 clinics in Nunavut, as well as in Winnipeg. It is continuing to expand, and the Canadian Children’s Literacy Foundation is seeking interest from other clinics and hospitals in Canada wishing to participate.

Clinics that routinely see children from newborn to age five who face barriers to literacy can learn more about the program here.

“The language development that then leads to reading that then leads to academic and social-emotional achievement is so crucial,” said Dr. Ruth Grimes, Pediatrician at Sterling Lyon Pediatrics. “When you help a child get ready to read by sharing books, you’re enriching that relationship between the parent and child, and you’re enriching that family. That is an awesome responsibility but also privilege that I think every physician should take on wholeheartedly.”

Funding for Early Words has been generously provided by the RBC Foundation, the Gerald Schwartz & Heather Reisman Foundation, The Azrieli Foundation, and other donors.

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