Monday, June 19, 2006

Fingerprint scanners keep tabs on reading habits at a primary school

PUPILS at a West Yorkshire primary school can now be monitored for their choice of reading material after the launch of a new hi-tech library that scans children's thumb prints to identify them.

The £15,000 Fairbrother Library, at Clayton CE Primary School, Bradford, identifies pupils after they give a photographic image of their left and right thumbs, which are scanned when they take out books.

Headteacher Mike Joyce said he hoped the new technology would inspire the children to read more in a time when schooling standards are coming under increased scrutiny.
He said: "It is great because we will be able to know if a child has taken a book out and we will be able to build up a reading record for a child's seven years at our school. An English teacher will be able to see if a child is reading nothing but Enid Blyton books. There is nothing wrong with Enid Blyton but we would hope a child would read a wider range of authors."

Mr Joyce added: "When the reorganisation of schools was carried out in Bradford nobody thought about libraries and ours was in our hall and apart from two lessons a day you couldn't access it – it was a dreadful waste of resources."

The new library is housed in an old classroom.

It was opened by Judith and Steve Fairbrother – and the school named the library after them in thanks for their decade's service to the school.

It has been built with £3,000 from the school budget and £12,000 raised by the school's parents, teachers and friends association, run by Judith Fairbrother.
Mr Joyce said: "I don't know what the PTFA would be without Judith and Steve has been a governor for six years. They no longer have children here but they still give a tremendous amount to the school."

The library will keep a database of its books and children will be able to write their own online book reviews.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Segalla: Nurture children with books

Children learn to love the sound of language before they even notice the printed words on a page. They coo or babble when you talk or sing to them, and as they grow, they quickly pick up the concepts and words they hear. Reading out loud with children is one of the most important activities for preparing them to succeed as readers and to succeed in school. Adults lay the foundation for reading every day, when they point out objects and describe what they are doing while dressing an infant, grocery shopping with a toddler, or cooking with a preschooler.

The first years of a child’s life are a crucial development period, and children who are nurtured and stimulated during these years are much more prepared for formal reading and math and are more likely to have the social skills they will need when it’s time for kindergarten.

By the time most children finish preschool, they have learned a lot about our language. For the past five years, they have watched, listened to, and interacted with adults and other children in many types of settings. Adults often think that children learn about reading in the elementary grades, but the truth is that many children already know a great deal about reading when they enter kindergarten because they have been read to from the time they were born!

Children who become good readers are those who have had many positive experiences with books during their early years, and the adults who care for them can give an invaluable gift by reading to -- and with -- children during their earliest years.

Children also like having some books of their own that they can read. Affordable used books can be found at yard sales, thrift stores, secondhand book stores, and public library book sales. Consider subscribing to a good children’s magazine -- children love having something come in the mail just for them! Show your excitement too. Ask your child to read to you, a younger child, or a grandparent and talk about what your child is reading. This will help them remember what is read.

It’s not just what you read to children, but how you read that matters. If adults rush through stories or read without enthusiasm, children quickly lose interest. Try to read with expression and use different voices for the characters. Read at a slower pace gives children time to take in what they hear, think it over, and imagine the people, places, and events in the story. It’s important to ask questions or make remarks that will prompt the child to think, express himself, or relate the story to their own experiences.

Remember, parents and teachers are partners in children’s learning. Parents and teachers may look at young children’s learning from different perspectives, but they share a common goal: making sure that children receive the best possible education. Mutual respect and communication between programs and families takes advantage of both perspectives: to provide children with the kind of care and education that will help them succeed. Today’s family members and teachers have many responsibilities and time constraints and it takes extra effort on both sides to build strong partnerships.

Many early childhood and kindergarten programs today are working hard to become more "family-friendly," providing newsletters to parents that focus on staff members and professional development, ensuring one positive phone call per child each semester, or even providing voice mail for parents to leave messages after working hours. Programs may demonstrate strengths in different ways, but working together with parents remains crucial. When teachers make the extra effort to include parents in program activities, and parents take the time to attend and participate, children benefit from the best possible learning experience. The most important thing is that teaching children about reading becomes an activity that brings children closer to the caring adults in their lives.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Tips for summer reading

Thomasville Elementary School principals and teachers would like to encourage all parents to help make reading fun and enjoyable for their children during the summer. Experts agree: children who read during the summer gain reading skills, while those who do not, often experience learning losses. Because of this, efforts should be made during the summer to help children sustain reading skills, practice reading and read for enjoyment. Remember that children need free time in the summer to relax and enjoy the pleasures of childhood, so summer reading should be fun. The following are a few tips to make reading enjoyable for your children this summer.

* Read aloud together with your child every day. Make it fun by reading outdoors on the front porch, patio, at the beach or park. Even the older students love to have someone read to them. Also, let your children read to you.

* Set a good example! Parents must be willing to model behavior for their children. Keep lots of reading materials around the house. Read the newspaper at breakfast, pick up a magazine at the doctor's office, and stuff a paperback in your beach bag. If kids see the adults around them reading, they will understand that literature can be fun and an important part of their life.

* Read the same book your child is reading and discuss it. This is the way to develop reading and thinking skills. It also gives parents and pre-teens/teens something in common. Share what you like or didn't like about the book. Find out their opinions about the book.

* Take your children to the library regularly. The Thomasville Public Library is increasing their book collection daily. If your child does not have a library card, summer is a great time to sign up.

* Subscribe, in your child's name, to magazines like Sports Illustrated for Kids, National Geographic World, and Time for Kids. Encourage older children to read the newspaper and current events magazines to keep up the reading habit over the summer and develop vocabulary. Ask them what they think about what they've read and listen to what they say.

* Relax the rules for the summer. During the school year, children have busy schedules and often have required reading for classes. Summer is a time when children can read what, when and how they please. Do not set daily minute requirements or determine the number of pages they have to read. Instead, make sure they pick up books for fun and help find ways for them to choose to read on their own. You may want to make bedtime a little bit later if you find that your child can't up down a book.

* Use books to bread the boredom. Without the regular school routine, adults and kids need more activities to fill the hours. Books that teach kids how to make or do something are a great way to get kids reading and keep them occupied.

Each grade level at TES was given a list of suggestions for summer reading. Students may ask to see these at the local library. TES encourages each child to enjoy their summer vacation, but read as much as possible to help maintain all those reading skills they have worked so hard to learn. Join the summer program at the Thomasville Public Library and enjoy reading !