Learning Landscape Monday, 11 Oct 2021

As a parent and teacher, I know very well the challenges of walking alongside a child who is learning to read. Learning a set of symbols and rules that don’t always apply can be incredibly tricky and frustrating. If I had a dollar for the number of times I had to shrug my shoulders and say ‘Yes, I know that letter doesn't normally say that sound, but in this word, it does’ or ‘just forget that letter, it is silent.’ I think we sometimes forget just how complicated learning to read can be.

The brain develops through a set of stages that usually come into action simultaneously in a child’s development. From around two years to eight years of age, the limbic part of the brain, which centres around emotional responses and connection, is busy developing. Between the ages of seven and 27, the cortical part of the brain develops. This part is responsible for logic and reasoning and is where children can access their higher-order functions. This is a key time for developing literacy as the brain is ready to make the important and necessary connections needed to read.

It is from around seven years of age that you will see reading start to click. This is consistent with data collected year after year at Living Faith. Most students do not hit their stride with reading until around Year 2. We also see many students who achieve below the achievement standard in the lower years often experience success later on as their cortical brains come online. We, as parents, must view the reading journey as a marathon and not a sprint.

What does the research say about Reading?

A child’s attitude towards reading is one of the most significant predictors of reading success.
Early reading attainment does not necessarily mean long term reading success.
Early reading success does not necessarily lead to long-term success, but a contributing factor is a student’s attitude towards reading. Making reading a chore or pushing too early can often damage children’s attitudes towards reading and take away the joy that it brings. The more a child enjoys doing something, the more they will naturally participate. Making reading fun and enjoyable is step one in fostering lifelong readers.

How do we apply this at Living Faith?

  • Play: In the early years, we use play-based approaches as the foundation of our literacy. Play is how young children learn best and makes learning to read a joyful and fun experience.
  • Choice: In Daily 5, students are encouraged and taught how to select ‘good fit’ books of interest to them. There is nothing more boring to a child than being forced to read something that they haven’t picked for themselves. Giving students voice and choice in what they read increases their engagement and helps foster a love for reading.
  • Time: As part of Daily 5, plenty of time has been assigned for students to engage in reading. Students have the opportunity to read to themselves, read to a partner, listen to reading or engage in whole-class stories on a daily basis.
  • Individualised reading instruction: Each child has their own individual reading program focusing on their own goals and strategies. Each child participates in reading conferences with their teacher to determine their reading goals. Students work on these goals and receive feedforward from their teacher.

Reading is also not a skill that students are going to grasp instantly. It takes time and practice to make meaningful connections and build a deep understanding. We can support our kids by helping to foster their natural curiosity in books and frequently reading together. Developing a love and passion for reading is essential in developing successful readers who read for enjoyment.

- Bianca Ravi, Director of Learning