How to Improve Children’s Reading
I have chosen to develop the reading area of my setting due to the current need to improve children’s reading. The setting in populated with mostly English as an additional language (EAL) pupils, and most children face difficulties in understanding Children’s English literatures due to their ethnical backgrounds. The statistic from the Reading agency (2014), provide some evidence of issues that we currently face and the need to improve the standard has emerged. The Early Years Foundation Stage framework (EYFS) emphasis on the Communication and language to develop and enhance children’s literacy and to be able to achieve that, parental involvement have been acknowledged as the key people who shape the factor of children’s well-being and therefore parent as partners has become a part of the legal framework. (DfE, 2017). In order for me to promote this paradigm, I have participated in arranging a workshop for parents to attend and to inform them of the developmental aspect. I have performed numerous strategies of effective communication in arranging the workshop and convey the importance of developing children’s reading and urge parental collaboration in this aspect of development.
Children are constantly learning and relying on the adult for guidance, it has emerged that their learning skills is associated with their cognitive development and the surrounding environment that they inhabit. (Taylor et al, 2004). As the focus is on children and their development, it is necessary to have effective communication skills to persuade the parents about what their role is in the child’s development and what they need to do to enhance their relationship with their children. (Ward, 2009, p. 13). Using the ecological model of Urie Bronfenbrenner, to make a change within a social context involving parents and other family members, it was necessary for me to take the initiative for discussion around managing change with my colleagues and come up with a developing idea for home reading. (Bronfenbrenner cited in Lindon and Trodd, 2016, p.181). This ‘scope of change’ is not a huge one, but an ‘Improvement changes’, it is an existing feature of Communication and Language that needs to be made interesting with new ideas for both the parents and children. (Lindon and Trodd, 2016, pp.184-185). And therefore, the reading workshop was intended to focus on change using effective communicative skills in which allowing me to interact and communicate using verbal, non-verbal, formal and informal methods of communication with teacher, staff, head-teacher, and parents. (Businessballs, no date). This was to have a firm grip on my speech in making the audience grasp the true meaning of words that are uttered and understand the concept of making changes. There are cases when people take words out of context and the speaker then becomes unable to communicate what he or she had initially meant to say. People perceive communication to be a one-way process however, effective communication is a two-way process as the person communicating not only speaks but listens to what other people have to say. (Hughes and Read, 2012, p.16). It is necessary for an effective communicator to always be aware of his or her tone so that the audience is persuaded in doing what the speaker wishes them to do. In this case, the purpose was to persuade the parents in understanding the importance of reading skills in the early years. [My School, 2018].
The principles for effective communication is essential for all kinds of relationships. For instances, where poor communication takes place, shows the audience’s discontent and explains why it is difficult to persuade the audience of what the speaker truly wishes to say. The aim of communication is to listen and to be heard, be it done through written communication, spoken or through gestures. (Hughes and Read, 2012, p.24) If the audience does not get a word of what the speaker intends on saying then the true meaning of communication is lost. It leads to people misunderstanding the meaning and becomes a basis for miscommunication. The reason why such an occurrence takes place is that most often people do not use the right words to convey their message across to the audience. It can occur in both verbal communication and in written communication as in both situations people tend to read between the lines and get the wrong message. To avoid such a situation, there are some basic communication principles that should be followed. Building trust and showing respect are one of the fundamental principles of communication. (Ward, 2009, p. 13). The audience, in this case, the parents of the children, need to have trust in the early providers that the children are cared for and special attention is paid to each and every child. If the parents are not treated with respect and given the treatment that they deserve then they will not be ready to listen. (Hughes and Read, 2012, p.16) To get them to listen to my point, I allowed them to share concerns with me regarding their children and what they thought was needed to enhance their child’s learning process. If the parents are made to feel like they are unaware of what their child needs and how to tackle with a child then it will set off their mood and will make them less attentive to what is being said. They might shun any pieces of advice given to them regarding their child’s reading enhancement skill. The parents need to be made sure that they are not being judged and instead are being encouraged on presenting their opinions. It is important in any communication to have an understanding between the speaker and the audience otherwise the point of the whole interaction is lost and nothing is learned. (Hughes and Read, 2012, p.12.). Therefore, an important strategy that I used was to keep the parents involved throughout the process so that they are open to all kinds of advice and share their views as well. This has resulted in a positive outcome as the parents were persuaded in helping their child to work on his or her reading skills. (Hughes and Read, 2012. p.13). Active listening is another principle of effective communication and focuses on the person speaking. To actively listen means to not interrupt the person speaking and to allow them to finish what they are saying. By doing this, the message of the speaker becomes clearer and in this situation, the concerns of the parents are brought forward. (Hughes and Read, 2012, p.30) Allowing the parents to speak and share without judging them is crucial. Parents need the help of early providers to help their children in learning and developing, which is why it is important to allow them to express their concern and suggestions for improvements from them. Judging the parents makes it seem like the provider is putting themselves above the parents. Such an act can lower the parent’s confidence and causes issues when communicating. (Hughes and Read, 2012, p.12). For me to persuade the parents that they needed to focus on their child’s reading skills, I had to give them space in which they could share their opinions first before giving my own opinions on the matter such as the development of reading skills in children and how to enhance the progress in this area of learning. [My school, 2018]
For the purpose of communicating my developmental are across to the parents, teacher, staff and the head teacher, I utilized strategies from Mehrabian’s communication model theory. I used both verbal and nonverbal methods. I had to engage in a dialogue with my class teacher in order to actively organise a workshop and used where appropriate, the non-verbal methods such as writing out emails to the head teacher and staff and sending out alerts and email messages to parents to inform them of a reading workshop. Leading to the Worksop and during the workshop, I had communicated through a variety of strategies using gestures, expressions, visual narratives and used vocal sound. Mehrabian’s work is dedicated to providing the foundations for the most often quoted and simplified statistic for the effectiveness of verbal communication. Mehrabian pointed at a statistical chart associated with spoken communication in which he added that about 7% of the spoken messages are based on feelings and attitudes, 38% of messages associated to feelings and attitudes are paralinguistic and 55% of messages relating to feelings and attitude are based on facial expressions. The findings show that most of the messages are associated with the facial expression of the speaker and lesser on the way the messages are conveyed and the words that are used to convey the message across to the audience. (Businessballs, no date). Communications methods has transformed over the years, it is only now that we can use multi-communication method; it has been influenced by the radical change of technological communication such as: mobile phone alert, emails, twitter, face book, WhatsApp, land line phone, skype, webcam. It seems to make it easier to connect and communicate faster than ever before. Unforfortunately, technological communication is getting far advanced and dangerous for children and adults. There are inappropriate sites that can easily be accessed, there are high rate of misunderstanding and abuse taking place. To tackle these problems, it is extremely difficult to keep up with policing the sites and its abusers. (Hughes and Read, 2012, p.15).
Recognising issues, limitation and discourses upon effective communication, at this stage, I personally did not experience it due to a well organised establishment that I am with. However, I can address how issues can impact in the settings. For such awareness, professionals have to evaluate the impact of poor communication and make appropriate development to ensure practice runs effectively. And for a desirable result professionals have to continue with effective communication. At times, there might appear situations in which adults are faced with bias due to cultural differences and in such situations, they need to react without creating any problem for themselves or others (Webster-Stratton and Reid, 2004).
The principles of Early Years Foundation Stage framework (EYFS) focuses on different areas of learning however, children are mostly taught through games (Tickell, 2011). Some of the learning areas that the early years pay attention to the communication and language, physical development, personal, social and cognitive development, literacy, problem-solving questions, apprehending the world and learning how to use expressive art (Tickell, 2011). All of these learning areas make up of EYFS. Literacy, mathematics, and arts help children in enhancing his or her knowledge. It also focuses on what the early years providers have to do to ensure that the child is learning something and developing through the process. Literacy includes reading and writing and is a crucial area of learning (Tickell, 2011). It also works on promoting teaching and learning skills to make sure that the children are getting the required skills that they need to be able to progress through their school and future life (Tickell, 2011), (DfE, 2017).
The role of parents in helping the child learn literacy is evident through a variety of the behaviours exhibited by the parent. These behaviours can be seen in the routine activities such as the parent’s verbal involvement with the child during playtime or when feeding the child. And in other instances, the parents indulge in intentional efforts to motivate the child to learn such as urging the child to speak or to read a word or phrase. Any activity carried out by the parent at home is an important step towards supporting the child’s learning and development. Playful activities have a long-lasting impact on the child’s learning as they advance academically in schools. Toddlers who are unable to speak or haven’t learnt how to communicate need the parent’s attention in the process of talking. Parents need to actively participate in their child’s life so that the child learns the basics of communication and apprehends new words and ideas. Also the interaction from parents and the providers who care for the children can also impact the child’s development. I presented some of that crucial information and ideas to the parents during the workshop in order to direct parents in engaging with their children with recommended activities, and the significant focus was on cutting out sentences (props) and sticking it on a note book. [My School, 2018]. Such interactions allow both the parents and the providers to learn a lot of things about the child and also learn how to support the child’s learning keeping in mind the needs and the circumstances. In cases where the child has special needs, for instances, the child suffers from Dyslexia, both the parents and the providers can learn new ways of handling the reading process of such a child, and this situation was also addressed to the parents and the support network information was provided to them. (Irlen, 2005). Children who have learning disabilities show difficulties while reading such as not being able to read a specific paragraph, or they might skip words and phrases while reading (Irlen, 2005) in some cases children reverse the order of the words and utter them backward as they are unable to tell right from left (Irlen, 2005) To treat such a problem, I gave some examples to identify such issues, this visual and narrative communication helps to focus on the word learning skills by simplifying it with pictures, gestures and cutting out a rewritten sentence and sticking it back on a note book in an order. Parents should pay attention to how the child comes with different words and also help the child in understanding how each word is to be uttered (Chapman and Tunmer, 2003).
One of the many issues identified and addressed to date is bringing up children to appreciate, respect and diversity of cultures, move past this differences and learn to peacefully co-exist with others as children and later on as adults, pass down these values to the next generation (Taylor, Clayton and Rowley, 2004). Cultural differences include physical and social differences in lifestyle, celebrations, dressing and families. Sometimes, there are children who are being brought up by other members who are not the child’s biological parents and this becomes the responsibility for the practitioners to build a good relationship with the guardian. (Hughes and Read, 2012, p.7) in respect of cultural differences, curiosity which has to be addressed and answered, by teachers and parents, in an appropriate manner, early in the childhood years so that children may grow up to respect these differences and consider no one inferior but unique in his own individual identity (Webster-Stratton and Reid, 2004). It is exciting to live in a multicultural society, but there can be a hand full of barriers and conflicts with differences and communication methods. (Hughes and Read, 2012, p.9). Educators should be open to questions from students from an early age about reasons for differences among individuals like accents, practices dressing, etc. (Taylor et al, 2004). But this requires more than just patience on the part of the educator. Educators have to evaluate the impact of the information imparted to kids in a classroom and make it appropriate to develop an environment for the children where they learn to not only respect the difference but also take part in protecting the rights of others. For such an awareness, educators and parents, both need to actively play their respective roles in identifying differences and responding to such differences in an appropriate manner. (Taylor et al, 2004). This requires open discussions at home and in a classroom-based environment so that children may learn to see other students with a newer, better perspective. But the response provide by the educator should be positive, without punishment and given in a relaxed educational setting. (Webster-Stratton and Reid, 2004).
Throughout the project, I have recognised and became aware of my own strength and limitation of communication and the impact that I have on other people during this project engagement. This has made me explore areas of limitation, and how to overcome barriers. When speaking to people, we are always going to face with somebody who is not listening or perhaps I would be in that position. A typical example of that is, I was on a ‘Reading duty’ about one week ago, and it was nearly home time for me, the Nursery nurse came over to me and said that I was taking too long reading with children, I had to read with 6 children in space of half an hour. I felt that I was rushed and could not listen to the children. Therefore, just for formality the reading had to be completed. This typical example happens in different aspects of our daily routine and sometimes it is beyond our capacity to stop. To make the improvements, just before leaving, I asked the Nursery nurse if I could read in the morning session or after lunch session for the best interests of children. I was nervous to ask, but used my professional assertive tone to speak. Her reply was not what I expected, instead I was told to be flexible with duties. Here, it is evident that I tried making a change, but there are hierarchy and barriers to make a change. The ADKAR model: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, it was founded by Jeff Hiatt, the founder of Prosci each step of this model is a sequential pattern, you cannot just apply one aspect of the model to make a successful change, to make a successful change all of these stages of the model needs to play its purposeful role. It provides a structural direction to change with successful outcomes as well as measuring failures. However, failure does not mean that it may be linked to the sequential stages of the model, it is the people initiatives problem and how it is applied to the change. (Prosci Inc, 2018). Using this example of the model, it is clear that, to make a successful change, there has to be a team effort and the willingness to drive to success. And similarly, parents also needs to make that commitment with the school to participate in making changes to their children’s education and well-being.
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