Shy tamariki blossom with refreshed Reading Recovery and ELS approach

December 4, 2023
A refreshed approach to Reading Recovery and Early Literacy Support has created widespread positive change for shy tamariki at Rānui’s Birdwood School.

An expanded approach to literacy at Birdwood School has seen quiet, shy students blossom into “positive, bubbly, bright, confident tamariki”, says principal Vikki Rihari.

The kura’s new literacy structure has shifted the mindset of students from an ‘I can’t read’ mentality to a ‘yes I can, and we’ll do it together’ attitude. 

“Over time we’ve noticed a change in the disposition of students, and a positive approach to opportunities. You’ll now find them reading on their own and going to the library by choice.

“This, for me as a kura leader, is absolutely outstanding and even more important than the data because it’s changing their mindset for the future,” says Vikki.

The kura has also seen a shift in kaiako practice through exposure to the refreshed literacy model.

“It has been exceptional, not just for the classroom kaiako but, by osmosis, for the other adults in the room so we’ve been able to grow our pouāwhina āwhina in the classroom as well,” she says.

Wraparound support

Previously, Birdwood School utilised Reading Recovery for its traditional one-to-one intervention.

This year, they utilised the expanded model to reach more students. A total of 33 students have benefitted from more support through the tiered structure, which allows kura to deliver targeted daily group support as well as 1:1 support for those who need it. 

Reading Recovery kaiako Cilla Chester says the flexibility of the tiered model means the kura can meet the highest needs first.

“We wanted to prioritise the older tamariki who missed out on literacy with Covid and interruptions to kura. 

“We worked with Year Two and Year Three classes first and a Year One/Two class for the latter part of the year. Having that flexibility and being able to look at where the greatest need is has helped us implement something we think really works,” she says.

Whānau appreciate the extra support wrapped around their child and have noticed rapid changes in their child’s learning and confidence. 

“Through excellent relationships and great practice these tamariki have blossomed,” Vikki says. 

“There’s just a buzz and kids are actually begging to go into the special group now!”

Growth in confidence 

Classroom kaiako Ashley Stratton has seen the confidence of both ākonga and their parents grow since expanding the Reading Recovery and ELS approach, noting an increase in attendance of parent/kaiako events and literacy open nights.

“Seeing their child feel confident coming to kura and making real progress makes them proud. They can see such a bright future for their tamariki,” she says.

Cilla agrees, adding that the ELS component dovetailing into and before Reading Recovery provides the kura more opportunities to honour whānau and the advice they give. 

“They guide us in our planning  by telling us what their tamariki are passionate about, which helps us hook them in. If you go into a topic they’re already good at, that’s half a win,” says Cilla.

“The model allows me to plan for a wide and rich approach to reading, writing and talking. It’s about creating high engagement in motivational topics.”

A whole new world

Adopting Reading Recovery and ELS’s refreshed model has helped students strengthen their vocabulary and language skills too, says Ashley. 

For example, one student who initially  struggled to socialise and communicate with her peers now has a wider range of vocabulary and better pronunciation, which has improved her social interactions.

“It’s even opened up their play, with tamariki now choosing to write as part of their games,” says Ashley. 

“They’re writing ‘open’ and ‘closed’ signs for their shops or they have a written menu for their hair salon or cafe. Reading and writing have become an integral part of their day.”

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