Monday, February 9, 2015

Parents Make the Difference - Nourishing Literacy Development through Shared Book Reading

Paula Eskett has recently joined our team at CORE education and she is supporting us with access to resources we NEED in our roles.  
I am very grateful for this and have decided to share my thoughts on books here in my blog!

Parents Make the Difference - Nourishing Literacy Development through Shared Book Reading by Susan Voorhees

The dedication on this book "Dedicated to my mother - my first teacher" is a fabulous start to a great read! It is an easy read and the truth of the matter is, I completed the 111 page read in one sitting on a glorious sunny day out on my seat on the back lawn. 

What a title for a first chapter. Increasing we are working alongside educators who are battling with new entrants arriving at school with oral language challenges, little conversation language experience or little exposure to written language. Learning words does not happen by MAGIC! Voorhees sites Brian Cambourne's conditions he believed were crucial for learning:
  1. Immersion
  2. Demonstration
  3. Expectation
  4. Responsibility
  5. Use
  6. Approximation
  7. Response
Exploring the gradual shift of responsibility for learning to read from parent to child, involves all of these conditions.  This caused me to reflect on the reading experiences with my own two children. Reading was a daily event, one which to this day, I mourn the end of.  It was a pleasurable, relaxed, fun, family time - the perfect ending to a day.

The practicality of the diagram on page 8 makes it well worthwhile exploring, as you discover the shift of responsibility from ‘all parent’ to ‘all child’.

Chapter two is the most wonderful analogy of learning to read being as natural as learning to ride a bike, we learn by doing.  By being read to and experiencing reading, learners naturally move to readers.

Proficient reading relies on us decoding as well as comprehending.  Proficient readers decode automatically to allow a focus on comprehending.  As I was thinking about this a reader I worked with years ago springs to mind.  This reader had not automated the decoding part so was always challenged with comprehension.  Their lack of reading exposure and background knowledge also continued to challenge. 

Reflecting now, I wish I had exposed this reader to continual reading, being read to and with.  Maybe if we had focused on the reading to and with, more than the reading by, we could have made greater impact.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  How do you bridge the gap with readers who are still decoding at year 6 and beyond???

I was delighted to read that it is advisable to read favourite stories over and over again.  One of my earliest memories is sitting with Mum and my little sister reading a little golden book compendium, as Sue learned to memorise every word… Fly, fly, fly, like a bird in the sky; swish, swish, swish, like a little fish.  How strong this experience must have been, that I can recall the words and the illustrations some 40 years on.  I can so clearly remember Mum reading and allowing Sue and I to finish each line and each page…

Spending time reading books that your little reader enjoys is crucial.  I can remember night after night reading books that I did not particularly enjoy, but my sun absolutely loved the non-fiction stories and the sound books, where he would follow along with the words and know by the image which sound button to push.  On reflection this would have been very powerful scaffolding for him.  As I was a parent before I was a teacher much of the way I parented was from my heart rather than my head.  I often say I believe I was a better parent before I went through college.  I may have been inclined to do things ‘by the book’ if I had trained as an educator before parenting? 

Chapter five unravels my thoughts about parenting first as I whole-heartedly admit that I missed many opportunities with shared reading.
Voorhees p43. Prep, engage, conclude would have added so much to my reading routine, as it would to some class sessions.

Prep: before reading
Preview the cover and or the book
Activate and build background knowledge
Predict what will be read
Set a purpose

Engage: during reading
Confirm and make new predictions
Relate new ideas to known
Connect letters/sounds/words to context and illustrations
Monitor understanding

Conclude: after reading
Discuss your child’s personal reaction
Write a joint reader’s response
Identify what was done well
Enjoy the moment

I think enjoying the moment is so important.  I do not believe that we should ever do all of these with ever book or it could be a complete turn-off.  I do feel they are a worthwhile framework to have in your mind as your determine how to best meet the needs of your learners while engaging with reading.

A thoroughly worthwhile read for parents and educators alike.  I wonder if there is an opportunity to share this book at antenatal classes.  Do antenatal classes even focus on anything other than the birth?  I seem to remember that was the main focus.  How powerful it would be if new parents had the opportunity to read this text and realize the sheer magnitude of their role as their child’s first teacher…

In closing… I dedicate this blog post to my wonderful mother, my first teacher, my inspiration!  Thank you for every moment you read to us, for sharing your love of learning through your career as a teacher, for inspiring my into the teaching profession and for continuing to inspire me with your wonderment and awe of new ways of learning and teaching.  Thank you Mum!!!

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