Emma is now 6 and in her second year of primary school education. She can read simple books and writes about everything that entertains her imagination, using phonetic sounding.
Although Emma is confident in both her reading and writing, her school and lovely teacher encourage learning reinforcement at home and this is something I really believe in. Having worked for years as a substitute teacher in numerous schools in Northern Ireland and as a special needs classroom assistant for a short spell last year, I know the amazing difference educational support at home can make.
I have always encouraged Emma to appreciate books and the house is coming down at the moment with information books which are appropriate for her age. Her mind is like a sponge and she can retain impressive detail and information about everything, so we are nurturing her thirst of knowledge by always reading with her or listening to her read to us.
Her favourite series is the Wonderwise Collection, which we got from The Book People for £14.99 last year. The series’ 20 books contain a wealth of information regarding the world, the human body, animals and history, all wonderfully presented in a comprehensive and fun way which would capture any young child’s attention. I couldn’t recommend the series enough.
Imaginative and constructive play should always be seen as part of learning. Emma is regularly getting to review the latest toys, thanks to my blogging, and play leads to reading and learning naturally. She has loved watching The Good Dinosaur before Christmas so when we were offered the latest movie toys from TOMY, I saw them as an opportunity for creative play AND learning.
Inspired by the movie and assisted by her speaking dinosaur and cool mask, Emma replayed the story and then created new scenarios. Some of her ideas got transcribed into writing and made for some hilarious stories she read us at bedtime. Using the same theme she loves, we further used the opportunity to work on her reading by borrowing from the library The Good Dinosaur, The Essential Guide.Emma was able to decipher new information about the characters and the plot and her confidence as a reader grew.
Her reading confidence increased even more with the latest Dr. Seuss’s book, What Pet Should I Get?, we got to review this January. Nicholas Blincoe reviewed Seuss’s lost and found (some 25 years later!) book manuscript for the Telegraph last August with elation and gratitude and this were exactly our feelings towards this gem of a book too! For an emergent reader, repetition can be reassuring when in the right creative context and Dr. Seuss’s books provide just that! A wonderful new world of possibilities to explore and expand on, combined with the linguistic reassurance of surprising and innovative repetition, would always make for popular reads with young readers. The latest book is pure genius as its open end encourages organically the young reader to expand on possible scenarios and endings for the story and leads to multiples writing opportunities.
I left the best writing improvement tool we have found for the last, as I want to take my time and write about it in a bit more detail.
The Night Zoo Keeper and the Spying Giraffes was brought to my attention as a fantastic reading and writing support book and it hasn’t disappointed. Emma has loved having it read and many times, I have seen her “jump” in the story and creating her own imaginary characters and plots, inspired by the great story line.
The Night Keeper is a great magical story about an ordinary boy whose imaginary characters come to life in a magical zoo, of which he is designated zookeeper. Tom is the boy next door with whom every single school child can identify but his mission is much more important and intriguing than what is perceived at a first glance. His important mission transpires to be bringing back imagination and play in a land where Conformity has taken rule. A magical tale which will inspire many, many children to look beyond the ordinary and empower them to create their own extraordinary universe and stories.
And this is where Joshua Davidson, the author and manager director of the project is a trail blazer, as he took an excellent book and transformed it into a literacy program. A toolkit which has the potential to bring back creativity and imagination into the classroom and empower entire schools to improve literacy by the magic of storytelling and by children’s enthusiastic involvement.
I hope to see many schools joining in the fun. I have brought the program to the attention of Emma’s school principal and I hope to see schools in Northern Ireland bringing the fun back into literacy classes with its help.
I truly hope you have enjoyed reading this post and you have found inspiration in how to make learning fun at home for your young children.