by Mrs Debbie Warschkuhl, Gr 0 teacher of Trinityhouse Pre-Primary Heritage Hill
Pre-Primary school teachers hold a key role in determining future reading and spelling success of their students. Leading brain research confirms: Future reading & spelling success can be expected when neural pathways, which are malleable at this critical age of learning, are stimulated correctly. At this early age, the focus of instruction should be on developing the vital skills which underpin the prevention of later reading and spelling disabilities.
There are numerous reading courses available to help teachers with this vital task. One that stands out is the Time2Read system.
The focus of this course will be to gain a concise understanding of:
- Reading & spelling development: Why do some children struggle to read & write while others don’t?
- Brain research: Why the Pre-Primary ages are so critical to future reading and spelling success.
- Detecting early signs of potential reading/spelling failure before formal reading and spelling is taught.
- A multi-sensory approach to facilitate the learning of symbols.
- Specific age norms for the 3-6 year old child relating to reading & spelling development.
- Synergy across the Pre-Primary years – specific, systematic and explicit skill building during specific grades.
- Informal assessments aimed at tracking individual learners as they develop.
- Practical implementation ideas for your Pre-school classroom.
- Engaged activities: Developing pre-reading and writing skills through play.
In the age-groups 3-4 years and 4-5 years the focus strongly falls on Auditory Perception skills. Auditory Perception refers to the ability of the brain to interpret and create a clear impression of sounds. Good auditory skills enable children to distinguish between different pitches, volumes, rhythms and sources of sounds and words, which have amongst others, significant benefits for learning to read. The learners start with lessons that include syllables and compound words. Teachers only work with visual cues like pictures and never the written words. All the focus falls on the auditory skills.
Sound awareness is an important link in breaking the code of the alphabetic writing system. Training sound awareness before and during beginner reading produces significant advantages in reading achievement, influencing reading comprehension and predicting later reading achievement.
Children can’t simply be taught to memorize words, because languages simply have too many words. A reading method that is based on partial or total memorization of sight words is presently resulting in failure for many children. It is vitally important to teach children that sounds are represented by different symbols/letters in print. Eventually children need to manipulate the individual sounds in words.
Reading is not a natural skill but an acquired skill, deciphering this human invented writing system demands expertise and is a fundamental component of reading instruction. Reading written language requires children to consciously think of the sounds present in different words (e.g., the word ‘cat’ is made up of 3 different sounds, ‘c’ – ‘a -’ and ‘t’).
Here are some practical tips on how to practice “reading” with your preschooler at home:
Read together every day
Read to your child every day. Make this a warm and loving time when the two of you can cuddle close.
Give everything a name
Build your child’s vocabulary by talking about interesting words and objects. For example, “Look at that airplane! Those are the wings of the plane. Why do you think they are called wings?”
Say how much you enjoy reading
Tell your child how much you enjoy reading with him or her. Talk about “story time” as the favorite part of your day.
Read with fun in your voice
Read to your child with humor and expression. Use different voices. Ham it up!
Know when to stop
Put the book away for a while if your child loses interest or is having trouble paying attention.
Discuss what’s happening in the book, point out things on the page, and ask questions.
Read it again and again
Go ahead and read your child’s favorite book for the 100th time!
Talk about writing, too
Mention to your child how we read from left to right and how words are separated by spaces.
Point out print everywhere
Talk about the written words you see in the world around you. Ask your child to find a new word on each outing.
In conclusion, accepting accountability is a challenge every reading teacher and parent should commit to. If we instill a love for reading in our children from a young age, halve of the battle is already won.