Instilling a love of reading: Part two

by Nicole Gundi | Jun 29, 2017
Do your kids love reading or is it a struggle to get them to sit down and open a book?

We recently featured ASG National Excellence in Teaching Awards (NEiTA) recipient Lyn Cleaver who is passionate about sharing her joy of reading with young children.    
If you missed it, you can catch up here

We asked Lyn a few questions and here’s a deeper insight into her teaching practice and what parents cLyn Cleaver EH pican do to help their children develop sound literacy skills. 
Q.1 When children start school, what expectations are there, if any, that they should know the basics when it comes to reading?
All students will come to school from varied backgrounds with many different experiences.  We don’t expect all students to know their alphabet and sight words. However, those students who have had rich family experiences where books are valued, have witnessed good reading role models, and have exposure to quality literature are more likely to engage positively in reading task
s and will build on those experiences to develop as emergent readers.  

Q.2 What is the first rule of thumb when it comes to learning how to read?
Understandably, in the early stages of learning to read, some students get bogged down in the complexities of the English language and decoding for them is difficult. It is essential that reading comprehension strategies be taught alongside learning about letters and words.  Language learning takes place through meaningful interactions and experiences. Providing rich literature and language, in context, in the classroom, and at home, assists students in understanding how words and language go together.  There is a clear link between oral literacy and reading and writing development.   Oral literacy is given high priority in my classroom, where students are frequently asked to respond, share and present their ideas verbally. 
Q.3 Why is it important that children understand the ‘why’ of reading instead of the ‘what’?
Immersing young students in a literature rich environment, where books are read and responded to with passion and deep thought is crucial to develop motivation for learning to read.  In my reader’s workshops I aim to discuss an
Lyn Cleaver EH2 pic
d model what it is that good readers do, and engage and motivate my students to want to learn to read, through setting a supportive and industrious tone in the classroom, where they can share their thoughts and discoveries in a collaborative learning environment.  

Q.4 As a teacher what does it mean to you when you start to see your students really enjoy reading and engage with characters?
I get great pleasure when I see young students engaging with books and responding to what they have read with enthusiasm and delight.  Examples of this would be; asking me to read the next chapter in our shared book, seeing students talking to their peers about their books, students borrowing enthusiastically from the library, or telling their parents about which books they read each day. When older students make remarks to their teachers about their memories of reading with me in kindergarten I feel that I have contributed to their love of reading. One example was of a child who entered kindergarten with no exposure to books at home.  He hadn’t attended preschool and he didn’t know how to turn the pages on the book.  A few years later when writing a reflection in his year 3 class about; what he thinks of himself as a reader, he wrote “I’m good at reading because I’m good at pronunciation”. And in response to; who is the best reader you know and why?  He wrote “Mrs Cleaver, because she uses expression and chooses fun and exciting books.”  Those are the little moments when I can sit back and think, “Wow, this is why I love what I do!”

Q.5 At home, what can parents do to help their children develop a love for reading?
I often quote Mem Fox’s Ten Read-a-loud Commandments during parent workshops on how to help children with learning to read.  
Examples of the key messages are;
Read at least three stories a day with your child, read aloud with animation, joy and enjoyment, let children hear lots of language by talking to them constantly about the pictures, or anything else connected to the book and never get tense around books.  
All examples are simple ways to develop a love of reading, which is the first very important step in learning to read.

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