Essential Pittsburgh
3:30 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

WordPlay: Informal Learning on the Go

Children engaging with the WordPlay activities posted on city bus shelters.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Preschoolers in the city of Pittsburgh can forget the mundane and seemingly endless minutes of staring down the street for a bus.

A new program called WordPlay, by the Fred Rogers Company is meant to spark conversation between parents and children at bus stops. It’s also sparked a conversation about literacy and education.

“We were interested in helping people and parents use this time when they’re waiting as a time for a teachable moment…to encourage informal learning,” explains WordPlay developer Margy Whitmer.

The installations contain pictures and words for the youngsters along with a call for parents to start a discussion with their child about what they see. Whitmer explains that the program aims to remind parents that they have a crucial part in encouraging their children to talk and think about reading.

Dr. Roberta Schomburg, Professor of Education and Director of the graduate program in early childhood studies at Carlow University, agrees, adding that people who regularly talk and read to their children make them more comfortable with language and better prepared for school. The installations will appear at Port Authority bus stops and inside the T through October.