Category Archives: Early childhood education

strategies for parents to support their children's reading

Strategies for parents to support their children’s reading – #readilearn

I was recently approached by some parents who had been informed by teachers that their children were not achieving the expected level in reading for the class and that, although they were only in year one, were not on target for success in NAPLAN eighteen months later.

The parents were anxious and wanted to know how they could support their children at home. Tutoring was out of the question due to distance and, while it is always best to tailor strategies to a child’s individual needs, there are some basics which are applicable to most.

My first recommendation to the parents was to reduce the pressure — on all of them, parents and children, and to be as relaxed as possible about their learning. I explained that learning doesn’t occur in a stressful situation and that parents need to support their children by working with and not against them.

4 easy ways for parents to support children’s interest in reading

I consider these to be the main non-negotiables.

  1. Unrelated to anything school, read stories to your children every day. Make it part of the routine. Bedtime is often recommended, but it can be anytime. Let them choose the book. Discuss it with them: What do you think is going to happen? Why did he do that? I think that’s (funny, clever, wise…) what do you think? I didn’t expect that to happen, did you? Did you like the ending? How else could it end? You need to remember that your role is not one of testing; you are sharing ideas. You don’t need to restrict the reading to picture books. Read chapter books too – a chapter or two a night. Same deal. Discuss the book with the children and encourage them to think about the characters and events.
  2. Talk with your children — about your day, their day, their friends, things they like, what they want to do, their ideas. Discuss what you watch together on TV or the iPad, what they watch on her own. Documentaries are great to develop curiosity, knowledge and language. The larger the vocabulary, the easier reading becomes. Background knowledge is essential to reading.

Continue reading: Strategies for parents to support their children’s reading – readilearn

preparing the classroom for a successful school year

Preparing the classroom for a successful school year – #readilearn

A new year begins! Happy New Year!

I wish you all an enjoyable, rewarding and successful 2020.

For many of us in the Southern Hemisphere, the school year begins later this month or early next month. Most of us are already making preparations for the year ahead, thinking about how we will organise our classrooms and what we will teach. Preparation can take a lot of our ‘own’ time but being organised can reduce anxiety when the school year begins.

At readilearn, our aim is to lessen your workload by assisting with preparation, giving you more time for those things non-work-related things you enjoy.

Start out right from day one

Establish a supportive classroom

When you are confident and organised from day one, the children (and their parents) will feel welcome and have positive attitudes to you, your classroom and school. You will set the tone for a successful school year for both you and your students.

The free resource Getting ready for the first day with Busy Bee resources lists some first day resources with suggestions for using them; including a welcome letter, a welcome sign for the door, desk name templates, name badges and a birthday chart.

Continue reading: Preparing the classroom for a successful school year – readilearn

January - special days and celebrations for the classroom

January — Special Days and Events for Classroom Celebrations – #readilearn

Throughout the year there are many special days and events that are worthy of celebration in the classroom. They may draw attention to issues affecting our world and its inhabitants or celebrate achievements and contributions to the arts or our collective knowledge.

On the last Friday of each month, I will provide you with a list of days and events worthy of celebration in the following month. This is the list for January. The list is not exhaustive and is simply some ideas to spark your imagination.

International Year of Plant Health

As 2020 is the International Year of Plant Health, January is the ideal time to start thinking about how you can use the theme Protecting Plants, Protecting Life to foster learning throughout the year. It fits perfectly into Science Biology units that focus on living things, habitats and the environment; or perhaps you might consider using it as an overarching theme in your classroom for the year.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations,  the year “is a once in a lifetime opportunity to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development.”

Some ideas:

    • Establish a vegetable or native garden
    • Adopt an area of bushland
    • Decorate your classroom with a plant theme
    • Have potted plants in your classroom
    • Schedule time in your program for exploring outdoors
    • Conduct experiments about the needs and features of living things — plants
    • Read books about plants
    • Discuss the importance of plants to our lives
    • View and discuss this promotional video

Continue reading: January — Special Days and Events for Classroom Celebrations – readilearn

special days and events for classroom celebrations

Special Days and Events for Classroom Celebrations #readilearn

Teachers are forward thinkers and future planners. Even though 2019 is not yet done, many will already be thinking ahead and planning for the 2020 teaching year.

To assist in that planning, I have compiled a list of special days and events you may wish to celebrate in your classroom throughout the year. While the information provided in this list is brief, on the last Friday of each month, I will publish a more detailed list of the special days for the following month with accompanying teaching suggestions. By the end of 2020 we should have a substantial list of days to celebrate and suggestions for doing so. Please let me know of any days I have omitted that you would like to see included.

Of course, it is not intended that you would celebrate all the days. Rather, that you would choose those of interest to you and your children and those that fit with your program.

A printable copy of this list is available to download free here.

Leap into 2020 the International Year of Plant Health

2020 is a leap year so get ready to celebrate. It is also the International Year of Plant Health with the theme Protecting Plants, Protecting Life.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations,  the year is

a once in a lifetime opportunity to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development.”

Now would be a good time to begin thinking about what you can do throughout the year to celebrate and protect plants, perhaps using the topic as an overarching theme for the year.

Ideas for teaching and learning about plant health:

Continue reading: Special Days and Events for Classroom Celebrations – Readilearn

Raymund and the Fear Monster by Megan Higginson

Fighting the Fear Monster – reblogged from readilearn

Most of us have fears that can become monsters if we allow them to get out of control. Learning how to manage them and put them in perspective is essential for mental health.

In this post, I introduce you to Megan Higginson, author of the newly released picture book Raymund and the Fear Monster.

About Megan Higginson

Megan Higginson loves to write and illustrate stories of monsters, aliens, and mind-blowing places and asking questions like, ‘What if?’. Megan Higginson is also an artist, speaker, street library ambassador, a Books in Homes Role Model, dyslexic book worm, a mother, a qualified youth worker and education support worker, and a retired horse whisper. Megan believes in living an amazing life even with a chronic illness and encouraging kids and adults not to give up. She hopes her stories and illustrations will help readers to look at their life and the world around them with new eyes.

Megan is the author of, The Sock Thief which was included in The Creative Kids Tales Story Collection Vol. 1 in 2017, and An Angel to Watch Over Them (shortlisted) in the anthology Three Dummies in a Dinghy and Other Stories of Life in 2018. Her stories, Freya and the Fear Monster and Super Moon and Fairy Dust in The Creative Kids Tales Story Collection Vol. 2 in 2019. Three Seconds, Truck Stops and Log Trucks (shortlisted) in Papa’s Shoes and Other Stories of Life 2019. She loves to write stories of monsters, aliens, and mind-blowing places. 

About Raymund and the Fear Monster

A tale of courage and overcoming fears when the odds seem to be stacked against you.

At the top of an enormous mountain is a dark and gloomy forest. In the dark and gloomy forest lives a monster who roars and growls and makes terrible noises. Raymund lives in a small village at the bottom of the enormous mountain. Raymund is scared of many things. But, most of all he is afraid of the night, and the monster that sends him running to hide under his bed. How will Raymund face his fear, discover what it means to have courage, and defeat the huge and hideous monster that smells like fish guts, rotten eggs and smelly feet?

Continue reading: Fighting the Fear Monster – readilearn

teaching and learning with nursery rhymes

Teaching and learning with nursery rhymes – reblogged from readilearn

Nursery rhymes are often a child’s first introduction to our literary heritage. Parents sing nursery rhyme lullabies to soothe their babies to sleep and play nursery rhyme games to entertain them in their waking hours. All the while, children are learning the rhythms and tones of our language, developing vocabulary, ideas and imagination. When children learn the repetitive patterns of nursery rhymes, they are also developing their memories.

Australian author Mem Fox is often quoted as saying that

“Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they’re four years old, they’re usually among the best readers by the time they’re eight.”

While I am aware that others question the existence of research to back up that statement, I think most teachers would agree that children who have been spoken to, sung to (including nursery rhymes) and read to before school will find literacy learning much easier in our classrooms. Success with literacy learning often correlates with success later in life.

Already on the readilearn website, there are resources to support your literacy teaching using the nursery rhymes Humpty Dumpty and Little Miss Muffet. More are in development. While some nursery rhymes may be considered to have questionable origins, those origins have no place when teaching them to children. The benefits flow from having fun with the rhythms and rhymes of language.

Teaching literacy skills & developing creative thinking with Humpty Dumpty

The Humpty Dumpty suite of resources includes:

Continue reading: Teaching and learning with nursery rhymes – readilearn

appreciating and exploring poetry in lower primary classrooms

Appreciating and exploring poetry in lower primary classrooms – reblogged from readilearn

Poetry is a wonderful tool for learning language. When children listen to or recite poetry, they are learning the rhythms and sounds of language, exploring ideas and how to express them, expanding vocabularies, deepening understanding in nuances of meaning, and having fun with thoughts and their expression.

Children are exposed to rhythm and rhyme from their earliest days through nursery rhymes, chants and songs as well as the text of picture books. It is important for children to have opportunities for appreciating and exploring poetry into and throughout their school years. The Australian Curriculum places poetry firmly into the literature strand of English teaching each year. But it is not necessary to relegate poetry just to a poetry unit of work when stipulated by the curriculum. Poetry, rhymes, chants and songs can be easily incorporated into the daily class program.

Michael Rosen, who you may know as the author of Going on a Bear Hunt and who I previously introduced to you in this post, shares some recommendations for teaching poetry on his blog. Although the suggestions were written for a year one teacher, I think the suggestions could be extended out to other years. Following his recommendations would more than cover the expectations of the Australian Curriculum, and what a wonderful way to turn children (and yourself) onto poetry.

I’m only sharing a few of his recommendations here. Please visit his website to read the others.

Michael Rosen’s suggestions for teaching poetry

  • Get as many poetry books into your classroom as possible. Encourage the children in pairs to browse, choose and read.
  • Read poems to them every day, use vids of poets (check out Michael Rosen’s YouTube channel) , use national poetry archive. Writing poems with no poems in your head is too big an ask. Fill their heads with ‘What poetry can do’ ie loads of poems.

Continue reading: Appreciating and exploring poetry in lower primary classrooms – readilearn