19 Jun, 2020
10 : 00
Following the recent school closure announcement by the Beijing Education Commission (BEC) and the request for schools to resume online learning exclusively as of June 17, YCIS Beijing teachers and staff have worked tirelessly to guarantee those students who were back on-campus learning a smooth transition to e-learning and arranged the release of learning materials in a timely manner. Amongst YCIS Beijing academic staff were also our librarians, who, since the beginning of the online learning period in February, never stopped, neither online or offline, to provide support to staff and students, while promoting reading.
Laurie Montero and her colleague, Julie Chen have been running the Online Primary Library Programme with the objective of promoting the love for reading amongst learners. “Since we have been teaching online through Zoom classes over the past four months, having a library time set aside each week has been vital to the students,” explained the seasoned teacher from the United States. During the library slot of the timetable, Ms Montero uses her time with students to discover what books they are reading, gives them an opportunity to share with their classmates then chooses a book for all to read.
Speaking to the topics she chooses when reading to her students, she said “I try to choose topics and books that will inspire them and encourage them, especially during this difficult time. Sometimes we read funny books just to make them laugh.”
In addition to reading books, Ms Montero uses platforms such as Raz Kids, Epic and Oxford Owl which allow for her students to read books categorised according to their levels, with some offering quizzes to check comprehension plus games and activities where they can be awarded points based on the quantity of books they have read.
With the rise of e-learning in 2020, many websites and app platforms have also made their services more accessible to parents. Some of those are Time 4 Kids, Britannica, Pebble Go, Stories Audible, and Light Box.
At YCIS Beijing we promote reading due to its ability to develop students’ language skills and vocabulary, and according to Ms Chen, students also stand to benefit in the following ways;
- Reading stimulates cognitive skills- It builds motivation, curiosity- It exposes children to diverse ideas- It also nurtures your child as it provides one on one attention- Finally, it creates positive memories
Ms Montero who has been a Librarian at YCIS Beijing for the past school year shares that her passion for reading was ignited by her mother. “My mother is an avid reader. She always provided books for me to read and encouraged me to read and widen my vocabulary.”
Although the school is dedicated to improving students reading abilities, parents who would like to further nurture the skill in their children can do so in the comfort of their homes. According to Ms Jane Martuneac Kang, Upper Primary Learning and Teaching Co-ordinator, parents can do so by the following;
Read to your child.Children who are read aloud to are more likely to turn into avid readers, as it promotes to them the joy of reading. Reading books aloud exposes your child to new and challenging vocabulary, vocabulary which we may not actually use as frequently in conversations. Try to make reading aloud a habit; each night before bed, read a few pages out of a book that you both enjoy!
Read with your child. Allow time in your day for your child to read a book to you. Be near them, listen to them sound out the words and engage in discussions about it. Ask questions that take the comprehension below surface level. These often start with “how” and “why” and will help your child develop their inferential skills. Making reading a team effort can be highly motivating to your child and will certainly make the process a more fun part of each day!
Reread.Encourage your child to read books more than one time. Each time a child rereads book, a new level of fluency and comprehension can be obtained. When you read to your child, don’t be afraid to choose a book that you’ve already read together. It can be comforting to read a familiar story and smile together again at your favourite parts.
Maintain a variety of different books.Have a variety of text types available to your child to read. Provide your child with fiction books of many different genres: historical, mystery, adventure, classics, etc. In addition to this, it is a good idea to balance your child’s bookshelf with works of non-fiction as well. A different set of skills are utilised when we read non-fiction books. Exposure to both is very important to developing a well-rounded reader.
Stay positive and realistic.Learning to read with understanding is a long process and for some children, it is longer and harder than others. Kind words of encouragement about how they are trying hard to sound out words or how they are thinking carefully about the meaning will help to keep your child engaged in this process. In addition, it is important to keep our expectations for our children realistic. Jumping to higher levels will only lead to eventual frustration and does not promote the development of key comprehension skills. Slow and steady is what we should be aiming for. Talk with your child’s teacher to get a better understanding of the reading levels or to discuss any concerns you might have about your child’s progress in reading.