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Early Reader + Play-Centre Pedagogy

Written by Aleksa Pahapill

Learning is more inquiry-based in schools these days. Encouraging students to explore the world and ask questions has taken importance over memorizing and regurgitating information. It is important to teach children how to think, develop critical thinking skills, and truly understand the matter rather than deliver information. Creating a “culture of inquiry” that is shared equally between teachers, students, and parents is an approach to help children really succeed!

Learning through play is best described as ways a child can learn how to make sense of the world around them by exploring and being open to new experiences. The purpose of play-based learning, especially in Pre-school through Grade 1 is to capitalize on children’s natural curiosity. The play-centered approach in schools allows the teacher to extend children’s learning by observing, listening, questioning and modeling how to learn through inquiry. Children are also guided in how to build on their existing knowledge to think creatively, investigate, plan, reflect, experiment and gain problem-solving skills.

Another way to expose children to pursue their interests and try new things is the way a classroom is organized. The physical environment of a classroom plays a big part on fostering critical thinking in children by giving them flexibility and the tools to learn. It helps to have different stations set up in the classroom that are designated for different activities. Some examples include a dramatic center to put on plays and use their imagination, an arts and crafts table, a reading nook, and a section with blocks.

Some steps parents can take to promote inquiry-based learning include: reading at home every night with your child, taking interest in their homework, and getting them involved in family discussions. Learning takes place in all different shapes and forms other than academics, and it is important to support children in the learning process by allowing them to explore and ask questions!

Secondly, another way to support children in their social, emotional, and cognitive growth is to implement an early reading program. A good reading program includes activities that focus on reading aloud, spelling, phonics, comprehension, word recognition, and oral language development.

Goals are to get the early reader to build confidence in their reading, and understanding what they read. It is also important to convey the message that reading has two main purposes: to gain knowledge, and for enjoyment.

Here at Le’s Academy, we have our own early reading program called the Bee Lit Program for our primary students. It is designed to help improve reading, comprehension, handwriting, and spark interest in reading for pleasure.

Here are some useful methods and tips to encourage reluctant readers:

  • Encourage children to sound out words they are unsure of, or to look at the pictures or other familiar words to get a feel for what is going on
  • Allow children to select books based on their interests or passions, which should get them eager to read
  • Take turns reading aloud and have them explain the pictures
  • Ask children to make predictions of what they think the book is about, or what they think will happen next
  • Use technology, flash cards, or games to engage students
  • Provide books that are at the appropriate reading level (not too difficult, but not too easy so that they can encounter new words)
  • Use every opportunity to read! Reading doesn’t just take place with books, but also with words or sentences on cereal boxes, signs, menus, or comic books, for example

Happy reading!

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