Literacy and Return to School

a school jumper hung up with a face mask in the collar and an orange and a bottle of hand sanitizer below it

With schools in the UK returning to a more ‘normal’ way of working, thoughts immediately start turning to the idea of ‘catch-up’, and of repairing any academic setback.

Here, our director Sarah Ledger has been digging into this topic in a bid to reinforce the message that ‘literacy levels CAN be recovered’.

It’s perhaps inevitable that the very first parent chats which have been taking place at physical school gates this week, have swiftly moved to the topic of attainment and so-called ‘lost learning’.

As a mother, and as a former deputy head, and as someone hugely passionate about education and academic improvement – I get it.

For so many, the last 12 months has seen adjustments to teaching and learning styles like never before. Much of this has seen parents perform the role of tutor, while from one household to the next, success and effectiveness has hinged on decent broadband, a smart device, and the kind of environment which makes learning possible in the first place.

According to statistics from the National Literacy Trust, 1 in 5 children struggle to read and write, and, undoubtedly, Covid has made for an exacerbated picture of the haves and have-nots, when it comes to who has been able to benefit or maintain pace, when it comes to educational attainment during this tricky time.

But here’s the GOOD news.

Lexonik knows that rapid repair in literacy levels IS possible, at all ages, and no matter what the prior academic record, a child can quickly improve vocabulary and reading fluency.

We base our approach – in most cases – on a once weekly hour-long session conducted in small groups.

This format sees dramatic results and reading age gains in just as little as six weeks. In fact, it’s been found that the performance improvement equates to an average of 27 months in reading age gains in just six one-hour sessions.

While I’d be the first to say that all efforts to consistently improve a child’s level of reading comprehension are helpful (for example, turning subtitles on your television and encouraging them to read out recipes with you, or dissect stories in a children’s newspaper), I know on the basis of powerful evidence from the families and schools we work with, just what a fast and effective tool Lexonik is.

Unlike some literacy programmes which tend to major on learning how to read, you’ll find that our approach is one of teaching students how to decode unfamiliar vocabulary.

We focus on reading for understanding, as well as improving fluency.

If you’re interested in any of our products, I’d urge you to contact the team and arrange a walk-through of what we do and how we do it.

In the meantime, here are my 5 top tips for managing the classroom return and keeping a hunger for literacy and learning alive:

  • Remember that children are going to have a great deal more going on in their young minds in the next couple of weeks, from getting used to lateral flow testing, to reacquainting with friends. Go easy on them and don’t expect too much too soon
  • Parent and teacher conversations are vital. If you’re worried about a child’s level of attainment and how they might progress going forward, have that chat and discuss options
  • Consider all aspects of your daily routine to help build literacy confidence – from subtitles on TV, writing out recipes or buying a subscription to a child’s newspaper
  • Look for other resources and tools, like Lexonik, which can help bridge the gap and accelerate progress
  • Stop the judgment and comparison. All families are at risk of comparing how their child is doing in contrast to the child next door. All children perform and learn at different rates, so beating yourself up about how you hear another child is doing is not at all productive

If you feel like you want to learn more about our intervention programmes check them out here or if you’re looking for advice, get in touch.