Children don’t learn to read at school

Children don’t learn to read, write and count at school. Yes, you read that correctly. School can’t teach them to do it for you. Teachers just don’t have the time.

Of course, they try. All children get some version of literacy and numeracy tuition for an hour every day. But most of the teaching is group instruction, with the whole class sitting on the carpet while the teacher explains the day’s subject. It’s usually pitched at the level of a middle-ability child. Children working at a lower or higher level have to make sense of it as best they can. It has to be this way, of course. How can a teacher give their undivided attention to all 30 children?

Lessons are an hour long and are designed to keep thirty children engaged – and in their seats. It’s better to give them easier work, that keeps them occupied, than something challenging that has a line of children interrupting the teacher while she is trying to work with her focus group.

But teachers read with the children, don’t they?

There are 30 children in a class, divided into five groups of six. The teacher sits with one group each day so that over the course of the week she works with each group. One week the focus is writing, the next it’s reading, then back to writing again. So your child sits with the teacher once a fortnight. Of the literacy hour, 30 minutes is spent as a whole class, doing a shared reading activity, 20 minutes in groups and then 10 minutes to review everything at the end of the lesson. So your child’s group gets 20 minutes of the teacher’s time every fortnight. Twenty minutes, divided by six children = three minutes and 20 seconds of reading, per fortnight, per child.

The same is true for maths, and writing. Indeed, for every subject.

Most teachers are well trained, conscientious and trying to do the best for their pupils. But there’s only so much they can do when their attention is spread so thinly.

It’s why schools always stress the importance of reading at home. That fifteen minutes of story time you have with your child might be the only one-on-one attention they’ve had all day.

It’s an unavoidable truth: learning is a partnership between home and school. One can’t succeed without the other.

Are you ready for school?

Do you have a preschooler? Would you like them to develop some key skills before starting school? How wonderful to go into school on that first day feeling like you belong.

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