Future teachers studying Education at USC have returned to primary school as part of an innovative training program focused on improving literacy for children.
The Ready Reading program is an Education Queensland initiative that aims to foster a love of reading in children in Queensland through training community members to support children’s reading by volunteering in schools.
USC Lecturer in Education Dr Carol Smith said while the program was usually aimed at volunteers, it was offered as an extracurricular option to Education students as it aligned well with current subjects at USC and general research recommendations on how best to teach young people to read.
“The Ready Reading program emphasises the essential components for learning to read which is how USC education subjects are delivered to students,” she said.
“Teaching preservice teachers about phonics for example, is part of a learning framework that includes phonological awareness, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.
“Phonics or letter-sound knowledge is taught in a variety of ways and our students learn through songs, rhymes, and oral language play how to teach children to hear and, in time, manipulate the sounds in words.”
USC’s strong focus on early reading instruction in its literacy courses puts it at the national forefront of training Education students to teach young children how to read.
Dr Smith said the Ready Reading program offered one-off, four-hour training sessions and, once completed, participants were placed in a school of their choice to practise their skills under the supervision of a classroom teacher.
“Many of the 36 students who completed the program have commented on how great it has been to have an Education Queensland program align with what they’re learning at university,” she said.
“For our preservice teachers this offers them an opportunity, on top of their practical placements, to go into a school well prepared in an environment that affirms everything they’ve already been taught in their lectures,” she said.
Dr Smith said reading and writing sessions conducted with the children from Siena Catholic College each year are a pivotal part of the learning framework for USC students.
“It is from these sessions that our students recognise the differences in children’s abilities to process information as they read and write and each year, we hear of USC students’ ‘light bulb’ moments in witnessing the different ways in which a child learns,” she said.
“The Ready Reading program further emphasises these important lessons for our future teachers.”