Early years are the most crucial in developing your child’s Reading skills. Students in Kindergarten who started school at Mountain View Adventist College last week are now in the best position ever to be supported in their reading development.
Your child’s teacher is dedicated to ensuring that they know what your child needs to do in order to develop and progress their reading skills. We have consulted the experts in reading to ensure that our teachers are trained correctly in how to teach your child to read.
Mountain View Adventist College has been fortunate to have the advice and support of experienced and qualified researchers and practitioners who specialise in teaching children how to read. One such expert is Dr Sarah McDonagh, whose life work has been finding the best way to assess, analyse, plan and implement high impact Reading programs in schools.
Our school leaders have engaged Sarah to work alongside the teachers at Mountain View Adventist College for several years to make sure that they are following evidence-based strategies that actually make the most of their time in the classroom to teach students to read.
Last week Dr Sarah McDonagh shared her expertise with parents on the first day of Kindergarten at the College all of her tips about supporting their child’s reading at home. Sarah is an expert in reading and also a parent of primary school-aged children, which makes her a very valuable source of information about how to ensure your child has the best chance of becoming a successful reader.
If you missed her very practical workshop last week on the first day of Kindergarten, we have included the notes from her presentation for you to read on our website.
Sarah explained the BIG 5 Reading skills that together need to develop in order to become a good reader. These 5 skills are:
Sarah suggested some simple and fun ways to help children with the very important skill of Phonological Awareness. This skill alone has been identified as the single most important predictor of your child’s success in reading. It simply means that your child is able to hear separate sounds in words. Without this skill, they are limited in being able to decode words fluently as they read.
Students who come to school knowing the names of the letters of the English alphabet will discover that each of these letters has a particular sound. Sarah explained why the correspondence of letters to sounds, which is called Phonics, is important. When your child can look at the letter and say the sound immediately they will be ready to blend the sounds to make words. As they progress through the early years at school, they will learn that some letters have other sounds too. Reading requires students to look at whole words and know how to decode or sound them out.
Another skill Sarah emphasised that your child will need to know, is the instant recognition of High Frequency Words. Some words are not decodable and appear more often in text than others. If your child can learn to memorise how these words look, sometimes known as ‘sight’ words, they will be able to read more fluently.
Our school calls ‘sight’ words, ‘Camera Words’, from the program that we have adopted called Get Reading Right. This encourages students to look at words they need to memorise and to take an imaginary photo to store in their brain. Students know that they need to remember ‘Camera Words’ like photos, for future reference. When they see a word and they can’t sound out, they need to decide if they have that word stored in their brain yet.
Students who learn how to sound out words and recognise non-decodable words with instant recognition and automaticity, develop fluency or speed in reading. This skill is vital for comprehension. Our brain cannot decode and comprehend simultaneously and so needs to develop speed and automaticity in recognising and decoding words to release their brain to think about the meaning of what is being read.
The ultimate outcome of reading is comprehension or understanding the meaning of words. If your child has been taught many words (sometimes called vocabulary) and their meanings from the conversations that you have with them, they have a head start in knowing the meaning of the words they are reading.
Apart from developing your child’s spoken vocabulary, another way to expand their understanding of a wide variety of words is to read to them and explain the meaning of words as you encounter them. Your child can benefit from being read to on a regular basis, usually as quality time where you can bond whilst reading books together. Sarah recounted how she values this time with her own children and suggested ways to ‘hook’ reluctant readers into enjoying storytime with you. ‘Make it cosy and uninterrupted’.
Take the time to read Sarah’s tips about some of the very important skills that you can reinforce with your child at home. Your child’s teacher will be teaching your child the foundation skills of reading and would appreciate your support at home. The more they practice with you, the better they will become.
We invite you to work with your child’s teacher to develop your child’s reading skills. Communication with your child’s teacher will have the best outcomes for your child as you both need to be giving them the same guidance with their reading.
If you do nothing else, develop a love a of reading in your child by making time to read a wide variety of books to your children every day. This should be a time of great anticipation and joy. Show them the wonders of discovery in reading a book they’ve never read before or re-read favourites. Just READ READ READ!!
Attached to this Blog is a copy of Dr Sarah McDonagh's presentation for your perusal.