When children begin to read for themselves, they open a door to an amazing, rich world of fantasy, adventure and information. But, as with learning any skill the children need help. It is hard work, it takes time but by working together in partnership with parents and the local community, we believe that the children at Saint John’s are gaining in confidence to be become successful readers.
Whether a child is in Reception class, Year 6, or anywhere in between, parents are a child’s most important teacher and we believe that no other activity is as important to their success as the experience of sharing a book together. The link between home and school is such an important one – children who are encouraged, supported and taught in both environments have the best chance of success. Parents are encouraged to hear their children read regularly, whatever their age and send in photos of reading at home to create reading displays. Reading and Literacy workshops are also run for parents. At Saint John’s we also involve the local community to promote reading for pleasure. Classes visit the local library plus the local Waterstones where the staff run workshops and share stories. We also invite at least one author during the academic year to run a workshop with the children. Raising the profile of reading is seen as a whole school project and the PTFA play an active and supportive role in this. Every year the PTFA provide the school with funds especially for reading, whether it is for an author visit or new resources.
Over the last year we have bought lots of new reading books, as we were able to double our order by using matched funding. Our new books, which are been book banded have fitted in well with our reading scheme. These new books provide the children with an opportunity to read imaginative and exciting story books, written by well-known authors, at the appropriate level which we hope will help with the development of a lifelong love of reading.
At Saint John’s we believe that in order for the children to become successful readers they need to take ownership. Older children supervise and encourage the younger children by playing reading games such as word bingo plus reading stories to small groups of children. Other activities involve children using a text or a poem of their choice to work with a partner or in small groups to discuss and critique it. But our new initiatives are not just for the children. All of the teachers are involved in a peer mentoring scheme, which this year is focusing on reluctant and vulnerable readers.
We hope that some of the strategies we have introduced will provide the children with a brighter future by raising the enjoyment of reading. To quote Dr Suess – ‘You can find magic wherever you look, sit back and relax. All you need is a book!
Fiona Griffiths is Reading Lead at Saint John's Church of England Primary School in Cheltenham.
If you want to encourage your children to read, take part in our 100 Million Minutes Reading Challenge where early years settings, schools, colleges, parents, carers, childminders and other community groups across the UK will come together to collectively read for 100 million minutes.
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