Author Archives: Deanna Moniz

Get Ready to Read

Yes, we all want the best for our children. We want them to have the opportunities and experiences that we never had. If, as a parent, we think we would have been more successful if we’d done better in school or participated in sports, chances are we will push our children in that direction. Afterall, we want them to be happy and successful. But our idea of what is best for our children might not always be what they need or want. Finding that balance between encouraging our children and pushing them too hard is often difficult to achieve.

The heightened focus on parents wanting their children to read at a very early age is real … and it is worrisome. There is little current research showing the long-term benefits of learning to read at a very young age. In fact, pushing children to learn too fast may actually rob some children of the joy that they should be experiencing along the way. Research indicates that attempts to accelerate intellectual development, and reading, in particular, are in fact counterproductive … so why do some parents continue to push? It could quite likely be that they are simply not aware of the learning process.

Until your child is developmentally ready to read, reading instruction is basically useless. Pressuring your child to do what they aren’t yet developmentally able to do and that they don’t see a point in doing may cause frustration and anger. Going through reading lessons may train your child to recognize letters or blends, but it won’t be reading.

Think about it in another way. Learning to read is similar to what happens when you baby learned to walk. He pulled himself up to a standing position, sometimes practicing this for months. He held your hands as he cautiously took shaky steps forward, and then one day, maybe unexpectedly … he took his first steps on his own. If you are like many parents, you have documented this moment have it etched into your memory.

Just like children showing signs that they’re almost ready to start walking, they also give clues that they are ready to begin reading. But how will you know? The first indicator is motivation. Your child must be interested in reading before he will put forth the effort to learn how to do it. How can you support this significant stage of your child’s pre-reading experience? Foster a love of reading. Make it a habit of snuggling up with your child in a comfortable place and together, lose yourselves in the imaginary world of a book. Sing it, read it, act it out. Do this daily. Be a role model. Reading to your child will provide educational advantages, develop communication skills and promote creativity.

Print awareness is another indicator that your child is ready to read and includes a basic understanding of how to read a book. “How” to read a book is easily modelled from birth, as you look at the cover of a book and talk about it with your child and then have your child turn the pages of the book carefully from beginning to end. (Board books or cloth books are a great idea for your baby who is still putting everything into his mouth.) Pointing out interesting details in pictures also promotes print awareness and as your child matures, he will focus on the words as communicating meaning. When you see you child pick up a favourite book and “read” in his own words (often nonsensical in the early years, and sometimes memorized) it is another one of those milestones worthy of recording.

We know that each child is unique, and all children develop at slightly different rates.  Maybe your child has an abounding love for books, and maybe he doesn’t. Do not worry. Dr. and Mrs. Moore, in their recent research, have found that giving children time and space to explore  and learn to read on their own timetable may actually set them on a path to greater understanding and maturity (http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/blog/are-we-pushing-kids-read-too-early)

In many cases pushing children to read before they are ready leads to short-term progress at the cost of long-term (sometimes lifelong) dislike of reading. “Interestingly, the Finnish school system, which has some of the highest reading scores in the world, does not begin direct instruction in reading until age seven, closer to the peak of a natural unforced bell curve than the American system, which keeps pushing instruction ever earlier. A study in New Zealand compared Waldorf schools, which begin reading instruction at age seven, to public schools, which begin at age five, and found no long-term benefit to earlier instruction. In fact, many of the studies which show an advantage to early reading instruction compare children’s proficiency at around age eight or nine. What the New Zealand study shows is that by age ten or eleven, that advantage may disappear, and that by twelve or thirteen, it often reverses, with children taught later showing greater comprehension and enjoyment of reading than those taught earlier.” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/08/19/what-the-modern-world-has-forgotten-about-children-and-learning/?utm_term=.96932edf2383)

Yes, we all want the best for our children. We all want them to be readers. Find that balance between encouraging your child and pushing him too hard. Be a role model, read to him and encourage his love of books.

 

 

 

 

What’s the buzz?

 

It seems that lately our office has been overtaken by a constant and stimulating buzz about the creators’ philosophy of Innova Academy.  Conversations about the latest technologies and the possible personal and academic connections, trialling of high-tech gadgets and products and engaging in conversations and active interactions with interesting industry people have added to this air of excitement.  Enthusiastic educators are learning how to create a mindset and an environment that will support differentiated and personalized learning for all of our students.

These types of learning spaces are becoming more common in today’s schools because they offer a complete learning environment that is inviting and inclusive and encourages vast opportunities for students. Innova Academy’s creators’ spaces will be interspersed throughout the school, available to every student to explore and create their wonderings in a supportive, collaborative and stimulating environment where ideas are endless. Passion and innovation are at the heart of our spirit at Innova Academy. We believe that our makers’ environment will nurture inquiry, investigation and real-world experiential learning.

Some of Innova Academy’s purposefully positioned creators’ spaces will be intermingled in the library areas. Arranging flexible creator spaces in libraries is another step in the evolving debate over what a library’s core mission is or should be. I see our libraries at Innova Academy ensuring that our students and staff are informed, self-directed, discriminating and effective users of ideas, information, resources and materials. Of course we need to remember that at our core, we are still a library and our focus is on supporting and promoting literacy, and these creator spaces are an extension of our library. What better way to see this come to fruition than to support the whole child in a well-resourced, multi-dimensional library space?

So, as the buzz continues, so too does my excitement about the environment. These are exhilarating times that provoke thought about our future at Innova Academy.

Is the Library a Place to Play In?

Once upon a time, there was a library in which people sat silently as they read and were hushed if they dared to make any noise louder than a whisper. This library was a space in which the storage and preservation of books and periodicals were closely watched by the custodian of the library, a person whom many feared.

But those library chronicles have been rewritten. As we consider our learning communities more closely, we know that our libraries need to continually be revised in order to effectively support those whom we serve. Most recently I have been contemplating the needs of our youngest library users.  What do children in the Early Years need at their critical developmental stage? How can we encourage youngsters at this stage to develop a lifelong love for reading and inquiry skills? How can we use best practices in teaching and learning within our library space to support these children? How can we inspire them to wonder, challenge them to explore, support them to create and empower them to connect? (http://www.originsedu.cn/) These are the next chapters in our New Library book.

As we focus on the needs of children in the Early Years, we know that “play is a necessary element for the child’s development and learning in their beginning school years. Play allows children to make sense of the world around them. “(C. Bucheler, Head of Early Years, Innova Academy, Children learn as they play (1)) Play is often referred to as the classroom of life in which children develop their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. In fact, play helps children develop (early) literacy skills.

So what is the connection between play and the library? Often referred to as the HEART of the school, the library should also be a playground for learning, a space where young children can explore their queries and passions in a number of ways and a place where librarians can empower children to be the best that they can be. Our Innova library spaces will easily support meaningful, open-ended learning events that can impact each child’s development in a very personal way.  Our library may not be an actual playground, but there certainly is a place for play in our library.

Librarians encourage play while facilitating skill development; listening, speaking, reading and writing skills, social-emotional skills and motor skills, are at the very core of what librarians do. Our library spaces in Innova Academy will provide a plethora of resources, including a variety of fiction, and nonfiction books, story sacks, magazines, and manipulatives to be used intentionally to support these skills through developmentally appropriate learning opportunities. Children will also have the option to use iPads and eReaders to enjoy eBooks and digital resources. At Innova Academy learners will be nurtured and challenged to develop an innovator’s mindset and encouraged to become life-long learners.

Which library do you want for your child – the one in which he is hushed and fettered, or the one in which he is heard and free?  The one in which books were the only resource? Or the one in which healthy brain development, exploration skills, language skills, social skills, physical skills and creativity are nourished through a variety of learning materials? We believe we know what you want, and we are ready to welcome you.