From the Junior School


6 March, 2020


Reading to Children

This article has been shared with our community previously. It highlights the enormous importance to children of being read to, and having fun talking about books, as frequently as possible. This is applicable to children of all Junior School ages (3-11) – as well as before they start school – and is at the heart of learning for all students.

“Research has shown that the single most important thing that a parent can do to help their child acquire language, prepare their child for school, and instil a love of learning in their child, is to read to them (Russ et al., 2007). Reading to a child is one of the easiest ways to prevent future learning problems. According to Mem Fox (2001), author of Reading Magic, reading with your child should start at birth. When a child is born, their brain is not completely developed and will continue to develop over the course of their first years of life. Reading to an infant helps create brain-pathways and lay the groundwork for language development. A study by Keller and Just (2009) found that when a child listens to someone reading, there is increased activity in the language output center in his or her brain as they are trying to store the spoken words into their memory. This is a crucial step in understanding language because children’s knowledge of the sound system of language enables them to move from oral to written language, understand the individual components of language, and develop an understanding that letters make sounds (Robertson, 2011). Thus, being read to aloud has been shown to build the kinds of language skills that are essential for later success in learning to read (Russ et al., 2007).

When someone reads to a child, they are exposing that child to more than just the words on the page; they are demonstrating proper speech patterns, the basics of how a book is read (i.e., from left to right, top to bottom, etc.), and the excitement that reading can bring. Research has shown that up to one-third of children entering kindergarten are underprepared to learn. Furthermore, studies indicate that a child who is a poor reader in 1st grade, will most likely remain a poor reader by the end of 4th grade (Juel & Leavell, 1988). Heckman (2006) found that while learning to read occurs throughout the school years, preparing children to read before they start school is better than helping them catch up later. Pre-reading skills, such as reading from left to right, turning pages as you read, and understanding that letters make the words that make up stories, are critical for emergent readers to learn prior to their first day of school.

In addition to planting the language seed and preparing a child for school, reading aloud to a child may do something even more important; instil a life-long love of learning and create a bond between the child and the individual who is reading to them (Butler, 2005). When a child is being read to, there are no other distractions that are taking their caregiver’s attention away. In today’s world where everyone is reachable at all times, it is rare for a child to have a length of time where they are the priority and nothing else matters. Reading to a child is a great way to connect with that child and build a bond around learning. One way to do that is to select books that are enjoyable to both the reader and the listener (Buckler, n.d.). Try reading books that you remember from your childhood, as these books can conjure positive memories that you can then pass on to the child you are reading to. If you are excited about reading to your child, your child will be excited to listen, and the more you do it, the easier and more fun it will become. Soon it will be part of your daily routine and it will be the easiest and most fun way to prepare your child for their future.

With all of the information available pointing to the general importance of reading to children, what are the specific recommendations? As long as the reader and listener are interested in what is being read, it does not matter what the book is. “Even picture books and language in simple children’s books enhance children’s learning and vocabulary because of the conversations between parent and child which take place around books and stories” (Russ et al, 2007, p. 9). This being said, some of the best books to read to children are rhyming books because they help emphasize recurring patterns of sounds that are particularly helpful to the child when they begin to sound out words and letters (Fox, 2001). It also does not matter what language the child is read to in. Reading to a child in the language that the parent or caregiver feels most comfortable reading in shows similar benefits as reading in the child’s native language. Lastly, just as in exercise, there is a cumulative effect to reading aloud. The greatest and longest lasting benefits have been shown in children who are read to three or more times a week (Markland, 2011).”

The development of reading enjoyment and skills is a high priority for every Junior School student, right from the beginning stages of learning to read through to reading to learn in all fields of interest. More information on learning to read is available to parents on the College Dashboard and the conneXions page has a summary of key reading strategies used throughout the Junior School. Parents are welcome to talk to Class Teachers or Literacy Teachers or staff in conneXions about books and reading at any time. All Junior School students have access to a large collection of books (printed, ebooks, audiobooks) through conneXions. The ebook collection is accessible for borrowing at home 24/7.

Lachie Wright
Head of Junior School



Fifty students from Years 3-6 will represent the College at the NIJSSA Swimming Carnival at the Riverside Pool on Thursday 12 March. Nine Launceston Independent Schools will have teams participating in the full-day program and spectators are very welcome throughout the day.

Lachie Wright
Head of Junior School


Personal Hygiene measures

As the possibility of a convergence of the usual winter colds/flu onset with coronavirus spread in the community seems increasingly likely, it is a good time for us all to upscale our ongoing efforts to ensure that students of all ages are very conscious of the importance of routine hygiene measures.

Washing hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds (especially after toilet use and before eating), using hand sanitiser, coughing/sneezing into the elbow (and away from others), avoiding invading others personal space, ensuring regular hydration are key things that often need regular reminders for many students.

The combined efforts of everybody in our community with this are particularly important at this time.

Lachie Wright
Head of Junior School


Lego Brixhibition

Lego Brixhibition is back in conneXions,  open to all students from Prep to Year 5.

Create an amazing and original Lego design (not made from a Lego kit or from instructions) and deliver it to conneXions between Monday 16 and Thursday 19 March.  Voting will commence Friday 20 March.

Creations must be no larger than 52cm x 52cm x 52cm (or no larger than four 32×32 lug Lego baseplates).

There will be three age category winners – Prep/Year 1, Year 2/3 and Year 4/5; with 1 overall winning LEGO creation that will be displayed at the Brixhibition Lego Convention held at the Albert Hall, Launceston on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 April 2020.

Visit conneXions to find out more. Download the flyer here – LEGO Brixhibition poster



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