Reading in the Early Years: Helping your child to read
Reading is the process of making meaning from print. It is a complex cognitive skill that is used in all aspects of life.
The Centre for Economic Performance (2016) highlights that “Early success in reading is a powerful predictor of later literacy achievement which, in turn, is strongly linked with performance across a range of academic areas.” The Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (2016) state that “individuals without literacy skills are at risk of being unable to participate in the workforce or engage fully in civic and social life.” Reading is therefore a crucial skill to master in order to be an active participant in society.
When students begin school, they often have a limited knowledge of how to read. They may have developed concepts about print, however, knowledge will vary according to the level of exposure students have had to books and reading in their home environment.
In 2017, staff at Gunning Public School set about implementing a whole school approach to home reading to support and consolidate the learning that was occurring in the classroom. This was a direct result of both analysing assessment data in regards to reading and a request from the community to provide homework for students.
In the four years that have followed, students from Kindergarten through to Year 6 have engaged in the home reading program. In 2020, 89% of students in Kindergarten regularly engaged in the home reading program, with 77% of students reading the recommended minimum of four sessions per week.
It had always been an intention from members of staff to run a parent workshop or develop an instructional video to assist parents in effectively supporting their children reading at home. Anecdotal records from consecutive parent teacher interviews highlighted that whilst parents wanted to engage with their child’s reading in the home environment, they weren’t equipped with the skills and strategies to effectively support them. A common example provided by Kindergarten parents was that they often felt that their child relied too much on the illustrations, rather than the written word, and as such, would cover or hide the illustrations from the child’s view.
Home learning during term 2 of 2020 further highlighted that parents were unaware of the most effective ways to support their children reading at home. A comment from a Year 3 student’s carer after observing the students teacher conducting a guided reading session online confirmed this.
In collaboration with the school leadership team, it was decided that a series of videos would be developed that would provide parents and carers with the skills, knowledge, understanding and confidence to support their children reading at home. The videos would include a combination of theory and practical examples, which could be authentically implemented in the home environment.