A Better Start to Reading

Teaching children to read well results in a lifetime of benefits. The research evidence is very clear about the importance of getting children off to a great start in their early literacy learning. Early reading success is the best predictor of later reading achievement, which in turn is closely linked to educational success and healthy wellbeing. How can you as educators, parents or family members, help support children to develop a strong foundation of skills that are critical for early reading success? How can you best support struggling readers to be successful? Across languages, research has shown that children’s knowledge of the sound structure of their spoken language (phonological awareness) is critically important to early reading and spelling development. The ability to learn new words efficiently, or vocabulary growth, is also vitally important for children to understand what they are reading. Quality shared reading experiences in the early years is a great way to foster the development of these skills. This course provides a research-to-practice learning experience for professionals and parents interested in the reading development of young children. This course will ensure that teachers and professionals alike are reading books in the most effective way to support children’s early reading skills. The course content will be relevant for all young children, specifically focusing on the key foundational skills of phonological awareness, print concepts, and vocabulary knowledge for children aged 4-6 years. The course will also include a focus on preventing reading problems, such as dyslexia, for children with familial risk, and children with other challenges to learning to read, such as speech and language difficulties. As part of completing the course, students will be given access to a large set of online children books, especially designed to foster phonological awareness and vocabulary development.

Created by: University of Canterbury

Level: Introductory

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