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Student listening to a book being read

Primary teachers, along with our Junior School Student Success Centre, hosted a literacy night for Kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 2 students and parents. The purpose of this evening was to explain how children learn to read and to provide tips and strategies for what parents can do at home to help their developing readers.

Reading is one of the most fundamental skills we can learn. It is embedded in all subjects but affects more than just academic achievement. Fluent reading is associated with social, emotional, and physical health. Thanks to recent developments in neuroscience, we are now able to target key learning centers in the brain and identify the areas and neural pathways the brain uses for reading. This research is known as the Science of Reading.

A basic way to think about how children learn to read is known as The Simple View of Reading. This theory explains that Language Comprehension and Decoding are separate and necessary skills for Reading Comprehension, which is the entire purpose of reading.

Language Comprehension is a child’s ability to understand the meaning of words and speech. It is entirely auditory. It includes vocabulary, oral language and listening comprehension.  Decoding is a child’s ability to look at letters and words on a page and turn it into speech. Using phonemic awareness, alphabet knowledge and phonics, a child learns to “crack the code” of word recognition. Reading comprehension comes at the end as a product of language comprehension and decoding. Strong reading comprehension can only occur when both language comprehension and decoding are strong.

Here are some things you can do at home to support your child’s reading development.

Language comprehension:

  • Use advanced vocabulary words in your daily interactions. For example, instead of saying, “I’m happy,” say “I am delighted.”
  • Point out sound patterns in words like rhyming words and beginning/ middle/ end sounds within words
  • Talk about how things are the same and different
  • You can play a same or different game by asking your child if two words start with the same or different sounds – men and map start with the same sound but map and sat start with different sounds


  • Instead of saying, the letter “a” say /a/ like apple, ask your child what letter represents the /a/ sound
  • Segment sounds in a word. Have your child segment a word like rag: /r/ /a/ /g/. Tap a finger for each sound
  • Segment again, this time pausing to write the letter(s) that go with each sound

Reading comprehension:

  • Read books together that would be too difficult for your child to read alone. Discuss vocabulary words and their meaning
  • Help your child make connections, to the world, to other texts and to their life
  • Predict before reading (I wonder…)
  • Ask the W questions - who, what, when, where and why, as you read

We encourage you to listen to your child read the books they bring home. Encourage them to sound out the words that are decodable.

Finally, read what they can’t yet read on their own. Help them develop their comprehension by reading books that have complex language, interesting characters, and an exciting story. Model expression and fluency.

Stop and talk about the story or ask questions while you are reading. Just like talking with your child, reading to your child will expand their world and expose them to information that will help them be better readers.

Brother and sister entrepreneurs

Grade 4 student Maya says that research is a key skill for an entrepreneur. She attributes her keen research skills to her success in the business she runs with her two brothers, including Evan in Grade 10.

Their company, Cheshire Games and Gifts, was inspired by their grandfather who spoke about traditional wooden games that are no longer available in stores. They thought it would be fun to try to make a game for him and their gift was a huge success! They then decided to make and sell wooden games to the public, soon expanding to other gifts, including hair scrunchies and soap.

Maya makes most of the soaps herself and came up with the idea of placing a toy inside to encourage children to wash their hands.

Evan’s role in the company is the design and creation of the wooden products. His process involves taking a new idea, coming up with the design, programming it into the laser cutter program and cutting the final product. His advice to new entrepreneurs is to be a people person. He says polishing his social skills have helped him to make business connections which have directly impacted the company’s overall sales and growth.

The siblings received the Youth Entrepreneurial Spirit Award at the East Gwillimbury Chamber of Commerce Business Awards gala for their entrepreneurialism.

  • Entrepreneur
  • Entrepreneurial


This past school year, the Grade 4 class was tasked with completing an endangered species project. Grade 4 student Tristan, took his project one step further.

“Tristan loves sloths as all of his classmates and teachers know full well,” says his mother Gail. 

“We follow a rescue centre in Costa Rica called The Toucan Rescue Ranch and are always in awe of the work they do to rescue and rehabilitate sloths that have often been electrocuted or orphaned, as well as other wildlife they come across that need help.” 

With that in mind, Tristan, who will be entering Grade 5 in the fall, wanted to raise awareness for the pygmy three-toed sloth, “of which there are less than 100 left on a tiny island just off Panama,” says Gail.

He decided to submit a picture of himself with his endangered species project to the Toucan Rescue Ranch’s “Kidz Korner” which is now featured online.

For Tristan’s birthday in January, he had a virtual tour of the sanctuary with its founder.

“He ‘met’ some of the sloths and saw them being fed. It was so special - when travel opens up, we’re hoping to book a trip to go see them,” says Gail. 

This summer, Tristan and his sister Noelle are working to raise funds to help the Toucan Rescue Ranch.

  • endangered species
  • environmental stewardship
  • widlife