If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!

By Margaret Allen, Strategic Education Manager

With the recent national and education headlines dominated by A-level results and university figures (as they are every year), I was a little saddened to read that education charity Teach First was calling for poorer pupils to be taught about university from primary age (full article here) but then equally heartened by Joe Tyler, a school’s philosopher and project manager at the Philosophy Foundation, who responded with an emphatic, ‘Let’s focus primary education on the happiness of pupils: not drilling them for university’.

Children of primary school age are still exploring and discovering at the same time as learning. They are developing at such a rate, both mentally, emotionally and physically, that the best thing we can do for them as teachers, carers or parents – is to provide enough guidance and structure to help them grow… but without stifling their own creativity or potential.

The same principle is true of reading. Reading is such an essential skill, in every part of our lives – for all of our lives. But we develop our core reading skills during primary education, which is why these formative years are crucial for engendering a love for reading. If we try to force children down a path with reading, we are likely to face reluctance and cause untold damage regarding a child’s association with books.

Yet if we create an environment where a positive reading culture is embedded, we see time and time again that the children naturally develop a love for reading and a genuine appetite for a genre which suits their individual personality best.

One of the most effective ways of providing a structured yet explorative approach to primary reading is ensuring access to age appropriate books, across a range of genres and which meet the children’s ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development). Accelerated Reader used alongside STAR Assessments provide an excellent tool for schools in achieving this, one recent example is Brooklands Farm Primary.

There are also lots of creative ideas which schools have introduced as part of wider reading and engagement strategies, River Beach Primary is an excellent one for learning about the journey to a positive reading culture.

I’d also personally love to hear any stories from primary schools who have overcome the reluctant reading challenge to develop a positive reading culture. Tweet me @MargaretCAllen or feel free to email me on Margaret.Allen@renlearn.co.uk.

Margaret Allen
Strategic Education Manager

Margaret Allen is Strategic Education Manager for Primary schools at Renaissance Learning. She uses practical experience from her time teaching in primary classrooms to help teachers across the UK to get the most out of Accelerated Reader.

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