I'm planning to run some literacy groups in our July school holidays targeting local Grade 1 and 2 children who are still struggling with reading or spelling.
These children typically have weak awareness of sounds in words (phonemic awareness) and poor understanding of how letters represent sounds (encoding/decoding skills).
Their parents are often very concerned about their lack of literacy progress, but are often told by schools to wait and see, and that there is still plenty of time for their child to catch up.
I'm not terribly keen on this advice, because I've seen too many children whose parents followed it, and who didn't just catch up.
When are literacy groups helpful?
Ideally children who are not cracking the spelling code should get extra help in the second half of Grade Prep, but it's definitely time to start ringing alarm bells if a child has made it through a whole year of school and still can't make much sense of books or write anything intelligible beyond a few rote words.
One thing we know about literacy is that the further you fall behind, the further you fall behind.
We also know that if you get to age nine and still can't read, unless you get well-targeted and fairly intensive intervention, you're likely to end up on the literacy scrapheap.
What would children do in these literacy groups?
The literacy groups I'm planning would run along similar lines to some of the groups I run in schools, with:
- Wordbuilding activities (using my movable alphabet and games),
- Writing activities (using my workbooks and some other published activities),
- Reading decodable books, and playing reading games and activities with decodable text,
- Using apps or computer games targeting phonemic awareness and spelling pattern knowledge (handy for those kids who finish an activity before everyone else),
- Take-home activities for anyone who wants to keep practising outside/after the group.
- Rewards and a fast pace to keep everyone engaged and interested.
I'll put some ads in local school newsletters, but if you know of a learner in travelling distance of Clifton Hill in Melbourne whose parents might like them to attend one of these groups in the school holidays, please tell their parents about them. To find out more, email email@example.com.