READING SKILLS TRAINING
Reading skills in the pre-primary:
Green Acres Primary School-Buyanja will accept children to be admitted in the Pre-primary at the age of 4 and 5 years. Any child below that age will not be admitted in the school unless he/she has come for early interaction in playing activities. Before the ages mentioned above the child’s brain is not ready for the academic approach. Exposing him/her may cause a mild mental retardation because the brain is not yet ready for the mental food the teachers wants to feed it. Many teachers make a mistake of starting with teaching children the name of letters A, B ,C, D, E, etc, this is completely wrong and generally meaningless. This method does not prepare a child for fluent reading in later classes but retard the course.
However the children can play with the block letters/curved letters if they are available, this will make the child get accustomed to the shapes of letters.
Reading skills in the lower-primary:
Green Acres Primary School-Buyanja will pass admission of children 6, 7 and 8 years to its lower Primary section. That age will be exposed to reading their mother tongue. In the area where the school is situated the mother tongue is “Luganda”. At this stage the child will be in position to indentify letters and syllables of at least 2 letters.
The practice of teachers should be getting children get to know names of things they know in the form of letters. Written names attached to a picture and displayed in a class can be a wonderful approach because children can even practice at their own time.
Reading English words at this stage will only confuse the children and will retard their reading capability. However at this stage children can continue learning how to SPEAK English.
A teacher should not confuse reading with speaking.
Middle and upper primary reading:
After mastering mother tongue reading, a child will be introduced to English reading. Starting with Primary four, charts will be found on classroom walls with pictures and English words displayed.
Using placards can be a wonderful method especially on parades for competitive reading. In order to promote this, the practice of making general parades should be eliminated. Parades should in 2 groups and at different places of the compound. Pre-primary and lower primary will form their parade; their placards flashes shall be in mother tongue and for middle and upper primary will make their placards in English.
During the Pre-primary, the children start practicing letter sounds instead of names of letters. And to the fact that reading is a sound concern, teaching names of letters may have no meaning. Warning: never teach reading in English because it will cause confusion of the brain. You can practice speaking it most especially outside class.
It is advisable to adopt a method of starting with the vowels in mother tongue reading. i.e. A, E, I ,O, U. Never mention the names of these letters in English because it will cause confusion of the brain. Then create a practice of syllable forming, i.e. ba be bi bo bu. The reason for this we need to train our children to be fluent readers, and for that matter let the child pick syllables because they make a more primary sound towards making a word.
After the stage of syllables please move to words, make sure you start with words they already know i.e. bato, ba-bo , ba-li, the most words they are accustomed to are their surnames. Start teaching them the syllables of their names, not their first name because most spellings of their first names are not phonetically spelled. For that matter first avoid them. It is going to help you and them greatly.
Make sure that there is a chart in the class which has their names properly and neatly written. When you realize that each child can recognize her surname then you get to know there is work being done.
Make sure you read the curriculum and contact other teachers for advice in case you have any doubts. Never teach anything you are not sure of, because you must know it is very difficult to un-teach something you have impacted in the children’s brain when they are still at that age.
Remember; we are creating a platform for our children to be fluent adult readers. Mother tongue is the key. Reading is one of the subjects which will bring out the meaning of our Motto: “To be rather than to seem”. The time I have spent travelling to many different developed countries, I have realized that non-black people who have attended school are very fluent readers. This has made them superior as compared to Africans because their search for knowledge has been simplified due to the fact that reading is just a game to them. They are not afraid of reading big volume books. There is a lot of information in black and white but many Ugandans cannot access it because they don’t have a reading culture. Green Acres Primary School – Buyanja is taking the 1st step towards this important venture.