'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.' - author Jackie French

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Speechie's Couch: Learning to Read

At some point in the first school year, your child will begin to ‘read’, but what does ‘reading’ look like in its earliest form? Yes, there are those word lists that go home to be practiced, memorised and rote-learned till they are automatic, but those homework words are just building blocks in the bigger picture.

I know it’s crazy, but even now, as your child flicks through the pages of their first books sent from school, there’s still a high chance that they will not be doing what we call ‘read’. Teachers spend a lot of whole class and small group reading time introducing and practising closure techniques.

Let’s look at the book cover. What do you see? Now, what is the title of the story? What do you think that might mean when you put it together with the cover picture?

Now, let’s open the book and look at the first picture. What do you think is happening here? What is the first letter of the first word? Can anyone guess what it is? What word might fit with the picture and what we are thinking right now?

Apart from the letter-sound link, these techniques are familiar to many little ones who’ve been sharing books and stories at home for years, but for those who’ve rarely touched a book, this world of making visual connections can be scary stuff.

Every page is an adventure and the possibilities, endless, so how can anyone predict the most likely connection? In the early learning world, it doesn’t matter. Children’s left-of-field suggestions often trigger a giggle. This in-built surprise factor simply makes the process more fun. It is here, sitting cross-legged among friends as they share a laugh that children’s earliest reading techniques and their love of story can be cemented for life.

Jo Burnell is KBR's Development Editor and resident paediatric speech pathologist. A reviewer of children’s and YA books and shortlisting judge for Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year, Jo is familiar with effective writing for Upper Primary and Secondary students. 

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