Category Archives: Literacy 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

author Dimity Powell discusses her picture book Pippa

Fly away with Pippa and her author Dimity Powell – reblogged from readilearn

Have you ever wished you could fly? Or perhaps wished for a chance to explore but were held back by rules and restrictions?

I always thought it would be marvellous to be a bird, soaring above the earth, looking down upon its beauty. Oh, the freedom it would bring. Looking out at the world from a plane’s window is, for me, the nearest thing. But for Dimity Powell’s latest endearing character Pippa, flight is a reality.

About Pippa

You see, Pippa is a pigeon, and, like all pigeons, Pippa was born to fly. She wants nothing more than to spread her wings and go exploring. However, her parents aren’t sure she’s ready and fill her head with fears and days with restrictions to keep her close at home. It works for a while. But, one day when her parents are otherwise occupied, Pippa discovers she can fly, and that’s where her adventures, explorations and discoveries begin.

Pippa is a delightful new picture book that is bound to win hearts and spread joy. Award-winning author Dimity Powell describes her book thus:

Pippa is a light-hearted adventure tale about striking out alone, following your dreams and desires and experiencing what it’s like when you get there. It is a tale that acknowledges the sometimes-suffocating affection parents have for their offspring, which can temper and frustrate a child’s sense of freedom and adventure, and suggests that it’s okay to take risks from time to time. Although the adventure may be perilous, it is still worth experiencing for you never know what glorious discoveries lie ahead.

Pippa is small, determined, stubborn, and wilful, just like many other six-year-olds. And, like many youngsters who’ve wanted more than they can handle, when she finally does return to her flock, she realises that when it comes to true security and contentment, it’s family that matter most.”

About Dimity Powell

I previously introduced Dimity to you in her popular guest post Libraries: A wonderous universe to explore and in an interview about her  picture book At the End of Holyrood Lane for which she was recently awarded the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Crystal Kite Members’ Choice 2019 Award, Australia and New Zealand region.

Dimity likes to fill every spare moment with words. She writes and reviews stories exclusively for kids and is the Managing Editor for Kids’ Book Review. Her word webs appear in anthologies, school magazines, junior novels, as creative digital content, and picture books including The Fix-It Man (2017), At The End of Holyrood Lane (2018) and Pippa (2019) with more to follow in 2020 and beyond.

She is a seasoned presenter both in Australia and overseas, an accredited Write Like An Author facilitator and a Books in Homes Role Model Volunteer in Australia.

Dimity believes picture books are soul food, to be consumed at least 10 times a week. If these aren’t available, she’ll settle for ice-cream. She lives just around the corner from Bat Man on the Gold Coast although she still prefers hanging out in libraries than with superheroes.

Dimity’s inspiration for writing about Pippa

Continue reading: Fly away with Pippa and her author Dimity Powell – 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

empowerment through reading instruction

Empowerment through reading instruction – reblogged from readilearn

The importance of reading to children every day is never far from my mind. It comes from a passion for all things literacy as well as the knowledge that reading means empowerment. Reading is the key that unlocks so much that is meaningful in today’s world.

Whether at home or in the classroom, children need to listen to stories read aloud to them every day. It should be non-negotiable and prioritised. I would also add time for independent reading of self-selected material to that non-negotiable list and, in the classroom, time for independent writing on self-chosen topics.

Listening to stories benefits children in many ways; including, but not limited to:

  • Sheer enjoyment
  • Connection with others and other ideas which leads to understanding, respect and empathy
  • Exposure to language and vocabulary which in turns develops language and vocabulary
  • Positive feelings for books as a source of pleasure and information and a stimulus for imagination and creativity
  • A model of fluent and expressive reading behaviour that can be aspired to and emulate
  • A desire to read for oneself.

Keeping in mind that reading aloud to children and making time for their independent reading are non-negotiable and occur in the classroom every day, children also require purposeful instruction in the process of reading.

While some children appear to learn easily and without effort before starting school, as my own two children did, others struggle to understand the marks on the page. Most children fall somewhere on a continuum between, benefitting from instruction along the way.

The readilearn collection of teaching resources for teachers of the first three years of school includes many to support your teaching of reading. Many resources are free, others are available for no more than a few dollars, or you can access all the resources for one low annual subscription of just A$25. (That’s about £13, €15, US$17 or CAN$22) I’m sure you’ll agree that’s great value.

Browse resources now

readilearn supports teachers teaching reading

Reading aloud

As part of our support for reading aloud, on the readilearn blog we regularly conduct interviews with authors and illustrators about their new books. Many of these interviews are available to download free from the Author and Illustrator Spotlight resources.  We also publish free lists of books on different topics for you to download; for example,

multicultural picture book

Continue reading: Empowerment through reading instruction – readilearn

learning is fun with Halloween-themed activities

Learning with Halloween fun – readilearn

Halloween is just around the corner and many of us wonder how we can have fun with a Halloween theme while ensuring learning is not forgotten in repetitious and meaningless worksheets.

readilearn teaching resources support teachers in keeping the learning alive while the children are having fun with Halloween-themed lessons.

trick or treat printable game for Halloween

The printable Trick or Treat Game for Halloween is a fun board game for two or more players of all ages, suitable for use in maths and literacy groups, with buddies or in family groups. It combines reading, mathematics, activity, and loads of fun and laughter.

Everything required to play the game is included in the zip folder. All you’ll need to add is a dice and a sense of fun. There are treats to collect and instructions to follow. Try not to be scared by those witches and ghosts and, most of all, look out for your friends.

The kit also includes additional ideas for lessons in maths and writing.

Each of the game components are also available individually to use in other ways if you wish.

Continue reading: Learning with Halloween fun – readilearn

Library For All - a Force for Equality through Literacy

Library For All — a Force for Equality through Literacy – readilearn

What is Library For All?

Library For All is an Australian not for profit organisation with a mission to “make knowledge accessible to all, equally” through a digital library of books that is available free to anyone anywhere in the world. The focus is on providing high quality, engaging, age appropriate and culturally relevant books to children in developing countries and remote areas.

Who can access Library For All?

Library For All found that, even in “communities where history, poverty or remoteness are everyday barriers to accessing knowledge”, many children have access to mobile phones, e-tablets and readers. Recognising this, the digital library was created which allows children anywhere to freely access reading material through the app, available in the Google Play Store on any Android device.

Teachers can also use the app with children in their classrooms. What a great way of accessing a range of culturally diverse books from simple beginning stories to chapter books.

In addition to their availability on locally owned smart phones and tablets, through the support of development organisations around the world, the books are available to many schools and communities in developing countries and remote areas through the Spark Digital Library Kits.

Continue reading: Library For All — a Force for Equality through Literacy – readilearn