Why is early reading so important?
The Literacy Trust commissioned a study in 2014 looking at the views of parents and educational settings. It showed a rise in the number of settings and homes using screen based learning. Now, while I completely appreciate that reading shouldn’t all be screen-based, using sites like Reading Eggs discussed below, I do think there’s a place for it. If I was talking about making or saving money in a financial article, I’d be looking for how to best use not only my money, but also my time.
Reading, indeed all learning, is the same in my view; you need to make the most of the time you have. Particularly in the early years, where the infant brain is developing at such a peak rate. With that in mind combining traditional family reading, tech tutors and general modelled conversation can only aid those learning links to be made.
This article introduces a few of my favourite reading resources.
Amongst the vast range of ICT options for supporting early reading development, one offering has stood out to me. Reading Eggs can be found at www.readingeggs.com and is quite possibly the best reading support program I’ve come across so far. I’ve used it in my educational role in primary education and have also been using it with Little Savvy over the last few days.
It is a computer based reading scheme for children from the ages of 3 to 7 years old. Based on synthetic phonics, which is used in all UK schools after the Rose Review, it seeks to quickly build recognition of letters and their sounds.
It can be used by families or settings where traditional reading time is at a premium, or as a way of supplementing and boosting knowledge. Currently Reading Eggs offer a free trial to allow both parents and educational settings the chance to experience their offering.
Once logged in, children are introduced to one letter at a time in the early levels. They experience initial sounds, letter formations, picture to word correspondence and more. This is all combined with animations that are friendly, a great reward based system, and tracking of successes and learning points. It works on Macs too, unlike a lot of reading schemes based within a browser. The free trail is 14 days (2 weeks) in length, giving you plenty of time to sample. Besides the obvious reading support that Reading Eggs provides, it also uses such a variation of activity styles that fine-motor and ICT skills will develop as a pleasant side effect.
If you decide to buy the full product it’s a very savvy £39.95 per year. That’s £3.40 per month for invaluable reading support and modelled tutoring. 85p per week!
Aside from Reading Eggs, there’s also similar tech offerings from Teach your monster to read and Poisson Rouge both with their own merits that you may wish to check out. TeachYourMonsterToRead.com is free on computers and is produced by the popular publisher, Usborne. It offers a simplified version of what’s on offer at reading eggs, but can be added to with additional resources which cost. Poisson Rouge is a more general offering but caters every possible subject, skill, ability and need at £13 per family per year.
Little Savvy loves books. But, with two parents that are teachers, he didn’t really have a choice. He was born into a home where both myself and Savvy Mum already had hoards of children’s books. However, although a great text is hugely important in reading, wanting to read with others and learning to appreciate the joy of a book is even more vital.
That why is you were to visit the Savvy Household around bedtime, you would stand zero chance of escaping without reading a story. Books provide the chance to see adults as big kids, and allow a special bond or confidence and security between reader and audience to develop. This bond is vital in developing reading enjoyment and confidence in a world where the literacy curriculum is being confused even further by jargon, SPAG tests and idiocy.
Next visitor in your door, nab them, and get them to read.
Reading Up & Down
No matter the source of literacy, get kids involved. Whether it’s a Haynes manual in the garage while fixing the car, or reading the receipt from your latest supermarket shop. Letters, words and the opportunity to play with language, is everywhere around us. Engage with them at every opportunity. It doesn’t matter if you child’s only just set foot in their reception class at school, if they’re interested in the text… then help fan those flames.
A lot of children outside of the city might struggle to get to the library. So, the smaller mobile libraries, or even the school library, might be their main book source. But wherever they do access books, explore up and down. If they want an easier book, go with the flow. If they want part of the Encyclopedia Britannica , let them explore. One of my teaching colleagues once said the most used books in the reading corner of her class were the mathematical dictionaries. Just let readers play, and be there when they need support.
Ignore suggested book bands, schemes and levels. Comprehension and enjoyment is key
Whether you have a child like our Little Savvy, who’ll likely be the youngest in his year when he starts school. Or your child is September born and the oldest. Ignore all temptation to get stuck in the rut of pushing through book bands or reading levels. Read widely with non-fiction, plays, traditional tales and more. Discussion, predicting and reviewing everything your child reads, to boost their comprehension. If the text is too tricky, use your own initiative to get your child to structure their own narrative or idea.
If you only visit one other site after reading this post, make it Playing By The Book. Explore the beautiful ideas to bring children’s books to life and make reading development a journey your child will want to never end.
Speaking a Story: Roleplay
Reading isn’t just about the page, it’s about telling a story and pulling in the audience. With that in mind when there’s no book to hand go back to basics. Put on your best story-telling voice and retell your favourite story. If you can’t remember one, make one up. The sillier the better and don’t worry, if you get it wrong you’re child will soon help you to rescue the narrative.