Programme aids young readers

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A programme designed to promote phonological skills in preschoolers is having a positive impact, according to a new report.

The Reading Clinic’s I-PLAY (Interactive Phonological Literacy Activities for Youngsters) programme, which operates in four public schools, aims to promote skills such as rhyming and recognising sounds in words.

According to the clinic, 120 children received screenings during the 2016-17 school year. Of those, 91 received additional small group instruction.

A total of 710 sessions were conducted over 236 hours, the clinic said.

A press release said: “All children enrolled in participating preschools — Southampton, St Paul, Lyceum and Victor Scott — receive a screening of their pre-literacy skills.

“For children who appear to need a boost in phonological skills, small groups of three to four children are organised to provide extra exposure to interactive sound-based activities using toys and pictures.”

Students who required small-group intervention in 2016-17 had pretest scores between the 19th to 30th percentiles in all areas, the clinic said.

By the end of the school year, those same children had improved “between 18 and 29 percentile points”.

The clinic added: “They are now, on average, performing close to the expected mean for children of their age”.

Eleven children, the clinic said, were recommended for additional services as their needs were considered beyond the scope of the programme. Additionally, 27 students were recommended for monitoring as they moved into Primary 1 due to “weakness or concerns” over their final assessment.

According to the clinic, the programme’s 2016-17 evaluation report concluded: “The results demonstrate that the gap in skills can be closed for most children.

“There will always be a few that require additional instruction or services, but with I-PLAY, those numbers can be reduced before a child enters formal education.”

Glen Daries, executive director of The Reading Clinic, said: “It is rewarding to see that the I-PLAY programme continues to positively impact our preschoolers by improving phonological awareness such as their abilities to recognise word sounds, rhymes and syllables.

“Children who, on entry to preschool are struggling with these pre-literacy concepts, are taught skills and knowledge in a small group format that will aid them in their mastery of reading in primary school years and beyond.”

Pamela Carr, I-PLAY programme coordinator, said: “By providing lessons in a game-like format with toys and/or pictures, the children are not only learning essential pre-reading skills, but they are having fun at the same time.”

Preschoolers, Ms Carr added, wanted to take part in the lessons.

Dr. Faries said the organisation was “extremely grateful” to sponsors Clarien Bank and Bank of Bermuda Foundation for their continued support of the programme.

Michael DeCouto, Chief Marketing Officer of Clarien Bank, said the organisation was proud to be a part of the programme.

He added: “The 2016-17 evaluation report underlines how important and essential the programme is in helping Bermuda’s preschoolers fulfil their potential.”

Margaret Hallett, Bank of Bermuda Foundation Deputy Chair and Chair of the Education Review Committee, said that the programme is “consistent with our focus on funding efforts to strengthen public education” as outlined within the foundation’s new strategic direction.

The clinic said it plans to provide further professional development for educators and educational sessions for parents, in addition to workshops on reading to preschoolers.

Research is also being conducted to “evaluate the long-term outcome of children in the I-PLAY programme in conjunction with development of an executive function curriculum for preschool children”.

A full copy of the report can be viewed at www.readingclinic.bm.

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Published Oct 18, 2017 at 1:51 pm (Updated Oct 18, 2017 at 1:51 pm)

Programme aids young readers

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