“Enjoying Reading in the Early Years” by Ms Rebecca Gilligan (MA, PGCE, BSc, Trinity TESOL), Head of Curriculum and Content – Pingu’s English, Linguaphone Group
How long have people been enjoying the habit of reading?
People have been reading for over 5,000 years. However, the art of reading was for the few to be enjoyed in the company of others. For centuries, the Europeans that were able to read, read aloud with an audience. It wasn’t until the 16th century when this custom began to change, and people started to read silently.
How do people read?
Neuroscientists were puzzled for centuries as to the processes that occur in the brain to aid reading. However, due to the changes in reading habits that occurred, they quickly discovered that reading aloud and reading silently used different areas of the brain. Reading activates the temporal and frontal lobe and the angular and supramarginal gyrus areas of the brain. Surprisingly, different areas of the brain are needed to process the skill of writing. There have been several documented cases of individuals that could read but not write and vice versa. How these skills are processed exactly is still undergoing much research around the globe. But we do know that in order to begin the skill of reading, children need phonemic awareness. This is the ability to map letters to sounds. Once children develop this awareness, they need a lot of practise decoding using their letter-sound knowledge. As these skills develop, they will learn to read more fluently and naturally.
How does the Pingu’s English curricula support children to read?
In second language acquisition, many studies suggest that reading and writing is more successful the more words, phrases and sentence patterns a learner is exposed to. To this end, when attempting to read and decode a new sentence a learner will be more successful if they have had exposure to the same content of words in a variety of contexts.
At Pingu’s English many of our learners achieve early success in reading as a result of the spiral curriculum.
In this type of curriculum structure, learners are exposed to words and concepts in many different contexts and sentence formations. This gives them a solid foundation on which to begin their reading journey. For example, if a child has been trained in sentences like, ‘Pingu plays at home with mommy.’ or ‘Pingu and Pinga walk to school with daddy.’ the brain of the early learner could then easily predict a sentence like ‘Mommy and daddy walk home.’ Such familiarity and repetition give children opportunities for maximum success in reading knowledge.
At Pingu’s English, the curriculum supports children’s learning by beginning to recognise all the letter sounds correspondences. These include individual, digraph and trigraph letter-sounds. To achieve this, children learn to recognise the sounds of letter combinations such as the sounds made by b, ph and air, respectively.
Over the course of the three-year international kindergarten program children learn approximately 44 sounds (phonemes). These correspond to the 26 letters of the English alphabet. During this process they learn how to blend these letters by using the sounds to form familiar words at their stage of reading development. In order to be successful in early reading skills children need to identify all the letter-sound variations. Identifying letter-sound correspondences can be a challenging skill to master.
Many children will struggle as early readers. However, at Pingu’s English all practitioners have at their disposal, daily lesson plans with letter (year 1), phonics (year 2) and reading activities (year 3). All of this comes along with recommended book lists which match the topics being discovered in that stage of the curriculum. As children build on their letter-sound knowledge, reading fluency will develop.
While there isn’t a one-size-fits all method to developing reading fluency we are confident that all children can achieve the learning outcomes at each year group.
Practitioners and caregivers are already acutely aware that children all develop at different rates and reading is no exception to this rule. Some children may decode a word once and be able to automatically recognise that word from that day forward. However other children may need to be exposed to the same word for 10-20 times before it becomes consolidated in memory.
How can my child become a more proficient reader?
To become more proficient readers, children must learn other skills in addition to phoneme and phonic awareness. As part of the Pingu’s English language learning component children have fun with high frequency sight words (HFWs), syllable patterns, word roots, prefixes and suffixes. These aspects of language, in addition to children’s letter-sound awareness really equip children with the strategies they need to develop automaticity. This is the ability to recognise words quickly, effortlessly and accurately. Once automaticity is mastered then children can begin to become fluent readers. You can easily recognise a fluent reader by a child’s interest in reading independently at a good pace.
Does your child love to read?
If they do, that is fantastic! If they haven’t developed their interest yet, don’t worry! There are lots of effective ways to instil a love of reading. Try sharing picture books with your young learner. As you do this, talk about the images on the pages. Get into the habit of reading daily with your child. In fact, it is never too early to start reading, talking or singing to your child. Studies have shown that intellectual development can be enhanced as early as in the womb.
There is no doubt that there are proven benefits to reading from birth, such as language development and increased word recognition.
What’s more, reading can expose the listener to so many scenarios. This can lead to a greater understanding of the world and a child’s place in it. A 2012 study revealed that the brain acts as though it experiences first-hand the narrative of the story being read. Scientists monitored brain activity, and this accurately matched the events of the protagonist in the story. For more tips on developing a passion for reading in your child, please read our latest blog here.
Pingu’s English is the global -school education brand offering first-class English enrichment programs and international kindergarten curricula for children in over twenty countries worldwide. Pingu’s English is owned and produced by the Linguaphone Group, a UK-based company with over 110 years of experience in the education market. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.pingusenglish.com
Pingu’s English supports World Book Day – celebrated on Thursday 5 March 2020. It is designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.
#worldbookday # pingusenglish
First published on www.pingusenglish.com