Michael Rosen writes a thought provoking and interesting blog about literacy, which you can read by clicking on this link, or by following the link at the side of this page.
The government, as I said in a blog post the other day, are committed to pushing literacy and particularly reading, as an area of which needs massive improvement in schools. They have issued a ten point plan, but which seems in essence to have two key ideas. Firstly it calls for schools to strengthen their commitment and work harder at teaching phonics, something I have already commented on.
Secondly it calls for schools to find ways to encourage parents to become involved in their children’s reading, and to read with them and support their efforts at reading on a daily basis.
It is estimated that children only spend 15% of their time at school. The other 85% of their time is in the hands and care of their parents.
So, how can we get parents who don’t currently read with and to their children to do so?
It’s not an easy thing to do, and there is no real way to enforce it, but Rosen has created a model letter to parents that schools might like to send.
I have reprinted it here, but you can see the entire blog post here.
Dear Parents and Carers
We want to do everything we can to help your child to read and write – and we will. We teach children how to read. We teach them how to write.
But we want them to read and write really well so that they are confident when they see pages of writing that they haven’t seen before and so that they are confident when we ask them to write things.
But if you help us, your child will do really well.
If you have young children, please make sure that you read to them. Try to do this once a day. We can give you books to read to your children but you can get some books from the local library, some local shops, from catalogues and from online shopping.
We also run a school bookshop where you can buy books.
The most important thing you should do is make sure that your children see plenty of books or magazines or comics – or all three.
Why is this all so important?
1. In school, we ask children to read things and find out what’s important – ‘browsing’. It is very hard to teach browsing. The best way to learn browsing is going to a bookshop, going to a library or sitting with a pile of books or magazines and choosing what you want to read, or just sorting your books and magazines in ways that you like.
2. In school, we ask children to think about difficult ideas. This might be about, say, why or how things happened in history. It might be when we ask children to think about ‘if’ and ‘why’. If children read lots of different kinds of books, they will start to think about such things as part of their reading.
3. In school, we ask children to think beyond themselves, to think about why or how other people think and behave. If children read lots of different kinds of books, they will start to think about such things as part of their reading.
4. In school, we want children to ask questions, wonder about things, be curious and interested. Again, if children read lots of different kinds of books, they will be children who do just that: ask questions, wonder, be curious and interested.
5. Like adults, children are full of feelings and thoughts. Like adults, these sometimes boil over and the children don’t always know what to do with them. Reading books often show us people facing up to problems and finding ways to deal with them. This means that reading books helps children find ways of dealing with their feelings and thoughts.
We know from research all over the world that children who read widely and often and who have plenty of books or magazines to read do better at school than children who don’t have books and magazines.
Here are some important addresses and websites: [to be filled in]
Your local library – where you can take out 12 books on one ticket! [to be filled in]
Your local shops where they sell books and magazines and comics [to be filled in]
Book catalogues for children online [to be filled in]
Read books with your children.
Get hold of books for your children.
We are going to hold meeting to talk about books and your children. Perhaps we can start up a parents’ committee of Books Champions to take this on further.
The date for this meeting is: [to be filled in] and we’ve invited […….] to speak at it.