Words | Mary Ryan
Yes, it’s real – I have taught Kindergarten and Year 1 consecutively and without a doubt my students return to school in January with significantly lower reading skills than when they left in December. The most vulnerable to the ‘slip’ are of course those who have just begun to grasp the skill. Off they go on their holidays, many unfortunately do not open a book to practise reading until they return almost 6 weeks later. Beginner readers cannot afford the break. In fact, any young reader can’t afford the break. They must engage with books and reading daily.
All is not lost, practise doesn’t require the expertise of a teacher. What it does require is a diligent and willing parent or carer who will give them the time, space and opportunity to engage with books and the written word more broadly, every single day.
What does this look like?
- Find words everywhere and read them together – when you’re shopping, on street signs, in restaurants, on menus
- Share favourite books daily, look at the words, talk about the words and the stories
- Learn sight words, these are words we need to learn by sight because they are common and difficult to sound out, learn them off by heart, take photos of them with your brain, find them in the books you read together, write them, play guessing games and memory games with them
- Visit the library, or join if you haven’t already, find books they can read independently and books you can share and talk about together
- Use technology to listen and to ‘read along’ stories – some sites you have to subscribe to, but others are free. Here’s a link to one Ready To Read
- Talk, talk, talk about the world around them, the experiences they have and build their vocabulary. Find different ways to say the same thing, new ways to describe objects and ideas and talk about new words they find in books
The Australian Curriculum explains:
‘Literacy encompasses the knowledge and skills students need to access, understand, analyse and evaluate information, make meaning, express thoughts and emotions, present ideas and opinions, interact with others and participate in activities at school and in their lives beyond school.’
To participate fully in the world we need to be literate and it is one of the greatest gifts we give children. So, while we rest from school, let’s continue reading, a significant (and fun) component of the most important learning of our lives – literacy.
Mary Ryan is a teacher of over 30 years of experience in school and system leadership and the classroom. You can find Mary on Facebook at Teacher at the Gate a place where expert teachers partner with parents to better understanding their children’s journey through school.