Summer reading programme improves literacy

A recently concluded summer literacy programme offered jointly by the Ministry and Department of education services, targeted students before literacy struggles began.

During the programme, teachers used the Fountas and Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention kit, a supplementary tool designed to help educators provide powerful, daily small-group instruction for children in younger grades.

The tool has three systems with lessons progressing from beginner reading in kindergarten to beginner reading in Year 2.

Lessons include a combination of reading, writing, phonics and work study, with specific work on sounds, letters and words, in activities designed to help children notice the details of written language.

It also emphasises comprehension strategies and vocabulary expansion, while providing opportunities for students to write about reading so they can learn a variety of writing strategies.

Education Minister Rolston Anglin said the effect of providing early support for students is immeasurable. He said, “This programme is a strategic approach that will pay dividends well into the future. Research demonstrates that catching readers before they fail offers more success than remediating them afterwards.”

He said, “A recent United Kingdom study had shown that their costs exceed £1.4 billion. Though the expense may be lower in Cayman, it is still vital to provide quality early intervention – particularly since this approach can provide substantial savings.”

Playing a key role in the programme’s success is PricewaterhouseCoopers. The company donated two of the Fountas and Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention kits used during the summer programme.

“Being proactive and trying to enhance the learning experience before reading becomes an issue, is an investment we are happy to make,” PwC Partner Peter Small said. “We believe that the literacy kits will add value to children’s learning experiences, and help reduce the struggles that several of them currently face.”

So far, feedback from teachers using the intervention kits has been favourable.

Maggie Hurley, a Sir John A. Cumber Primary School teacher said, “While using this tool, I have seen students become more fluent and confident in their reading abilities and this has happened over a short period of time.

“It’s a clear and concise programme which builds on students’ prior knowledge,” she said. “Once teachers and students are consistent in their implementation, success will follow. It is easy to use and needs very little preparation as all lessons are clearly laid out. You just open the book and go.”

Parents have also commented positively on the summer programme, saying they have seen its success because their children are showing progress.

Education administrators and teachers plan to continue using the programme during the regular school year, to support students at risk of literacy failure.

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