In mid 2022, after a successful trial in our junior syndicate, Waterloo School adopted a structured literacy approach to teaching spelling and reading across our kura. This approach is grounded in extensive research that shows the most beneficial way for children to become successful readers and writers is with a systematic and evidence-based teaching approach, which is based on the Science of Reading.
Key takeaways from the Science of Reading include the following:
Reading is not a natural process. Previously, we believed that learning to read was as natural as learning to speak.
• We now know that all brains learn to read in the same way and that these areas of the brain can be trained and developed.
• We now know about the skills that good readers implement and the parts of the brain that are involved in the reading process.
• Likewise, we know what aspects we should assess and teach to students who are not progressing in reading and spelling.
• A Structured Literacy approach to learning to read and spell is necessary for all and crucial for some.
• A Structured Literacy approach is the most efficient teaching and learning approach for dyslexic children and those with reading difficulties.
• The teaching of spelling in a systematic and explicit way enables students to become capable readers and writers.
This structured approach to teaching literacy is where we teach in a sequential, systematic and explicit way. Our approach is based on the building blocks of reading success:
Comprehension l Vocabulary l Fluency l Alphabetic Principle l Phonological Awareness
As a school, we have partnered with Learning Matters and use the iDeaL platform to ensure our teachers are well supported with this transition and the approach becomes embedded and sustainable across our school.
In Term 2 of 2023, we held a Structured Literacy Whānau Education Hui to share information about our approach to teaching spelling and reading with our community. You can see the video of that evening here (you may need to turn your volume up).
What does this look like in the classroom?
Supporting Literacy at Home
This overview is intended as a guideline of ways whānau can support literacy learning at home. It has been developed to ensure consistency across the syndicates, and be simple for teachers and families to manage. Please note this is completely optional, with the purpose being to give an indication as to how you can support your child’s literacy learning. Below is a list of activities/tasks which you could expect from each syndicate or other ideas of how you could support your child.
Further Information on Structured Literacy
As a parent, you may wish to learn more about this approach and the Science of Reading. You can find further information at the following links:
Enhancing literacy learning outcomes for beginning readers: Research results and teaching strategies: Chapman et al. (NZ), 2018
Teaching Reading: National inquiry into the teaching of literacy: Rowe Report (Australia), 2005
Independent review of the teaching of early literacy: The Rose Report (UK), 2006
National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read: An evidence based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (USA), 2022