The Hidden Powers of Take-Home Reading
In the realm of education, where debates about the efficacy of homework persist, there is a beacon of hope that stands out: take-home reading. The phrase “Give them books they CAN actually read” unveils a secret to ignite the love for reading in children. This blog explores the transformative impact of take-home reading on a child’s literacy journey.
The classroom reading journey begins in Year 1 of the school year, when a child begins to learn the letter-sound correspondence of the alphabetic code, aligning with the decodable text they take home as their reading assignment. As the child begins to crack the code, the take-home decodable books follow the sequence of learning, and the child will find success and excitement in their first reading experience.
What is Take-Home Reading?
Whilst homework remains a topic of contention, reading emerges as a notable exception. Home reading is an integral component of a school’s reading programme, allowing children to bring home carefully selected classroom books each day. Unlike traditional homework, these books are not considered a burden, but a pathway to future success.
Why Take-Home Reading is Essential
- Time spent reading is an indicator of success: Evidence suggests that regular reading is an indicator of a child’s success at school, with more time spent reading correlating with improved academic performance.
- Developing accountability: Take-home reading fosters accountability from an early age, empowering the child with responsibility for their own reading practice.
- Building confidence and boosting morale: Consistent practice and reinforcement provided by take-home text-controlled reading contributes to boosted morale, increased confidence, and enhanced academic performance.
- Supporting and consolidating classroom learning: Beyond reading, take-home assignments support and consolidate classroom learning, aiding in memory retention and the application of acquired phonic knowledge and orthographic mapping.
- Increased caregiver involvement: Take-home reading establishes a positive caregiver partnership between home and school learning by fostering involvement and interest in their child’s education.
How to Implement Take-Home Reading
- Introduce a Communication Journal: A Communication Journal is a place for caregivers to interact and comment on their child’s reading. This encourages positive and open relationships between teachers and caregivers, creating a supportive learning environment.
- Establish a reading routine: Make take-home reading a daily routine, designating a special time and place for caregivers and children to bond. Positive interactions build a strong association with reading, making it an enjoyable experience.
- Support a variety of reading situations: Facilitate different reading approaches to cater to a child’s individual learning preferences. This could include a caregiver reading to the child, reading together and the child reading.
- Encourage repeated reading: Encourage repeated reading of decodable books. Revisiting the same book over a cycle of days allows for ample practice opportunities to reinforce learning and develop fluency.
When should you Embark on Take-Home Reading?
In the initial phase of Year 1, it is imperative to allocate a substantial portion of Term 1 to equip students with the skills necessary for the mastery of the Alphabetic Code. Specifically, the acquisition of and proficiency in manipulating phonemes ‘s’ ‘a’ ‘t’ ‘p’ ‘i’ ‘n’ ‘m’ ‘d’ are paramount before students can transition to text-level reading using decodable books. The initial weeks are devoted to fostering automatic recall of these phonemes and developing the ability to segment and blend sounds to decode and spell VC (vowel-consonant) and CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words. Instruction commences at both the sound and word levels, progressing to the reading of decodable captions and sentences before engaging with connected text.
In parallel, as students forge their phonic competencies, educators may consider providing school library picture-story books for caregivers’ engagement in reading with their children. Additionally, the utilisation of practice Home-Reading Cards can augment the ongoing developmental stage.
For students in Years 2-3 and beyond, once their reading aptitude has been assessed, and scholastic routines have been established, the initiation of take-home reading can commence in early term 1. Notably, for learners navigating the intricacies of the Alphabetic Code, it is imperative to curate reading materials featuring only the explicitly taught and mastered code. The pivotal emphasis remains on cultivating successful reading practices to enhance comprehension and fluency. Even for those students who have transitioned to authentic texts, it is imperative that selected take-home books are within their proficiency range, ensuring a high level of accuracy, fluency and comprehension.
In the pursuit of unlocking literacy potential, take-home reading stands as a beacon of transformation. By providing children with decodable books that they have the skills to decode, educators and caregivers collaborate to instil a lifelong love for reading. Each take-home reading opportunity is a step closer to a child’s mastery and passion for literature. As we embrace this secret, we embark on a journey that transcends the pages of a book, nurturing the minds and hearts of the next generation of readers.
Written by Beata Goldman – Sunshine Books Literacy Specialist, Australia.