“STEM” is the biggest buzz term in education right now, but does that mean literacy and the other subjects are left in the dark? And how can you use these school holidays to get ahead?
It can often seem like the biggest focus in education right now is on the STEM subjects. If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard of this term before, “STEM” is an acronym for “science, technology, engineering and mathematics”.
Leap into Literacy director Allison Greenland, who has a Master of Education and a PhD in curriculum and teaching, says there’s a real push in education right now for a lot of things to be hands on, which tends to favour the STEM subjects.
“This is great, but there’s also a chance to have literacy involved in all of those ‘hands-on’ subjects as well,” Allison says.
There’s a lot of discussion in education circles about integrating literacy into the all subject areas, in fact it’s a requirement in the Australian Curriculum. So maybe STEM and literacy aren’t archenemies after all?
“It seems like literacy is a subject, whereas it should really be embedded in every subject – even in the STEM areas,” Allison says. “Let’s be honest, we’re all reading instructors.”
Teachers can elect to embed reading into their curriculum areas and focus on not only teaching the content of their subject, but the reading strategies students need to get the most out of a text. Allison believes all teachers should be doing this regardless of their teaching area, as many students she meets are not equipped with effective strategies for reading comprehension.
What’s important to note is that the teaching of literacy doesn’t stop at the school gate. Allison says parents should always play an active role in helping develop their kids’ literacy skills, which can be as simple as reading with your kids every night.
Christmas and the summer school holidays present a brilliant opportunity to get your child into a routine of reading at home, if they aren’t quite the bookworms you’d hoped they’d be. Books make the perfect Christmas stocking filler and the options when it comes to buying a book are, most definitely, endless.
While the pressures of the normal school term and extra-curricular activities are on hold, utilise these next relaxed six weeks to bed down a solid reading routine. Set up a comfy and quiet reading area for your child – you’d be surprised how cool an indoor cubby (read: strategically placed sheets over dining chairs) is as a reading den. Go shopping together to pick out some titles that they want to read. And read with your kids now that you also have the time to do so.
Make the most of the summer school holidays to set up your child for a literally great, literacy-filled 2018!
Allison’s Top 5 tips for enhancing your kids’ literacy at home
- Get them engaged. Find out what their interests are and focus the literacy on their interests.
- Let them read what they want. They can read anything – it doesn’t necessarily have to be what you think they should be reading.
- Engage them in all types of literacy media. It’s not all about reading from a book. Think magazines, newspapers etc
- Teach them the five Ws (who, what, when, where, why) and how to ask themselves these questions before, during and after the reading. Get your kids to make predictions and ask questions while they are reading.
- Track your child’s literacy skills through conversation. If they’re reading, ask them the five ‘W’ questions or get them to explain their favourite part of the book.
Words // Nicholas Grech