Let’s not squander young children’s natural love of reading

Many of us doubtless have fond memories of hiding a torch under the bed covers at night — blankets rather than duvets, for those of a certain age. Off went the bedroom light as we pretended to settle down to sleep; after all, it was important to be bright and alert for school the next day. On went the torch as we used its flickering light to enjoy a few more precious moments with a favourite book or comic.

Nowadays, children are probably more likely to use the light built into a mobile phone rather than an actual torch. But the time-honoured ritual is the same and the reasons behind it are the same as well. Children love stories, they are innately curious and inquisitive, and they also possess a wide-eyed willingness to accept and embrace — rather than fearing and shunning — what is new and unknown.

That is why, from a very young age, children love to read.

And yet, when we look at reading or indeed other key aspects of communication — written, verbal, mathematical — we find that the evidence of the government’s own figures indicates that too many of our children are not meeting agreed minimum standards.

Something is lost somewhere along the way. We are letting our children down. Children’s love of reading needs to be fostered and cherished.

Proficiency in writing, numeracy and especially in reading is perhaps more important than ever in this digital age. For many of us, the internet is the go-to place for information, advice, opportunities for networking, shopping and work. We also have access to an inexhaustible supply of fiction and non-fiction reading material on every subject imaginable, much of it online.

Communication is one of nine learning themes — each with equal priority — through which we believe the individual subjects of the UK National Curriculum should be taught, in order to equip children with the knowledge, skills and values to tackle the challenges they will meet as adults.

Nurturing the ability of 5- to 11-year-old primary school children to read and write remains at the heart of the life-based learning approach. It harnesses the power of reading and writing across all subject areas, as well as developing skills in other means of communication.

Children’s learning is improved through vocabulary building, phonics and a structured and committed approach to teaching. Children are encouraged to delve into Britain’s rich literary heritage and historical narrative for the social understanding and sense of belonging such reading provides.

Communication

Find out more about the importance of supporting all children’s reading

Life-Based Learning

Click here to read more about the life-based approach to learning

An Urgent Priority

Why we need a long-term strategy to improve communication

Image at the head of this article by Amberrose Nelson from Pixabay

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