Anyone can learn to read, write and count, but not everyone starts out on an equal footing. One of the research objectives of the research group Équipe de recherche en littératie et inclusion (ÉRLI) is to better understand the factors that encourage literacy learning in disadvantaged communities.
The placemats have proven to be popular and are given to parents in several primary schools.
Under the scientific direction of Lizanne Lafontaine from Université du Québec en Outaouais, ÉRLI combines theory and practice in its work by developing practical tools to support teachers and parents in these communities. The team's achievements include the development of a "literacy placemat" for parents of preschool and primary school children in disadvantaged communities. These placemats display a host of simple ideas to stimulate children's interest in reading, writing, speaking and arithmetic, such as writing grocery lists together or counting the number of steps they climb.
The placemats have proven to be popular and are given to parents in several primary schools; they have also been translated into English and Spanish and distributed in Haiti and Senegal through the Paul Gérin-Lajoie Foundation. The researchers have also developed materials for primary schools, with the same objective of showing students that reading, writing, speaking and arithmetic are useful and accessible. Teachers use the materials to initiate projects using simple everyday documents such as restaurant menus or flyers. The ÉRLI team is active in organizing and taking part in events every year, including the Acfas Conference and the European Conference on Reading.