Never too old to turn a new page

Weekend Courier - - Front Page - Gabrielle Jef­fery

THE wife of Premier Mark McGowan has chal­lenged fel­low par­ents to read with their chil­dren at home, even once they are ca­pa­ble of read­ing to them­selves.

Backing up univer­sity re­search that has found less than half of Perth’s stu­dents in years 4 to 6 are read to at home, Sarah McGowan wants more par­ents to con­tinue the nightly rou­tine for older chil­dren.

“Just read­ing to some­one makes you a bet­ter reader,” she said.

“It’s easy to say ‘there’s a book, go read it’ but we re­ally need to read aloud – it’s fun to read to your chil­dren and helps strengthen your bond with them.”

Curtin Univer­sity lit­er­acy re­searcher Dr Mar­garet Merga said par­ents were giv­ing up on the daily read­ing too early and es­pe­cially en­cour­aged men to take an ac­tive role.

“Re­search strongly sug­gests that read­ing aloud reg­u­larly has a sig­nif­i­cant and pos­i­tive ef­fect on chil­dren’s lan­guage, phono­log­i­cal aware­ness, print con­cepts, com­pre­hen­sion and vo­cab­u­lary out­comes, as well as note­wor­thy psy­choso­cial ben­e­fits,” she said.

“Less than half of six to 12-yearolds were read to by their dads.

“It’s a spe­cial time for kids when their par­ents spend it with them at the end of the day.”

Ms McGowan – a teacher her­self – is the am­bas­sador for a new De­part­ment of Education pro­gram called Never Stop Read­ing.

Dur­ing a re­cent read­ing ses­sion at Tuart Rise Pri­mary School in Bal­divis, Mrs McGowan asked her cap­ti­vated au­di­ence if they en­joyed the story and would they now want to fin­ish it.

They replied with an en­thu­si­as­tic ‘yes’.

“As a school teacher I am very pleased and ex­cited to be the am­bas­sador of this,” she said.

Tuart Rise deputy prin­ci­pal­mu­ni­ d481581 Glynn An­der­sen said they ran morn­ing read­ing ses­sions.

“We do it ev­ery morn­ing from 8am; chil­dren and their par­ents are wel­come. Each ses­sion they at­tend, they put a link on a pa­per chain and by the end of the year they have a Christ­mas chain,” she said.

“We read to them, as do the par­ents and older chil­dren read to the younger ones.

“It gives the stu­dents a safe per­son to go if they don’t un­der­stand some­thing they may not want to ask their peers – par­tic­u­larly those with English as a sec­ond lan­guage.”

Visit au/nev­er­sto­pread­ing.

Pic­ture: Jon Hew­son

Sarah McGowan had a read­ing ses­sion with Tuart Rise Pri­mary School stu­dents.

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