COMET Auckland manager for literacy and family learning Alison Sutton spoke to Stuff.co.nz about the gender gap in literacy and oracy, and how we can help combat it this Father’s Day and Tuesday’s International Literacy Day.
In Auckland primary schools, 81% girls are reading at or above the standard level for their age, compared to 72.6% of boys who are reading at the same level.
These figures are significantly lower down in South Auckland areas captured by Auckland Council’s The Southern Initiative programme, with only 58.9% of boys reading at or above the standard for their age.
“Those figures are really worrying, because the gaps in literacy between girls and boys widen as young people go through their education journey,” said Alison.
As these boys grow into adulthood, this can result in a lack of the basic literacy skills needed for adults to do their jobs, said Alison, and can have a negative impact on their children’s reading.
“We need to build the literacy levels of parents and caregivers so that our young people can get the best start in school, and adults can thrive in their work,” she said.
There’s a call for an increased focus on literacy for boys and men across the country, so in keeping with the Father’s Day and International Literacy Day theme, COMET Auckland is encouraging fathers and father-figures to spend more time talking, reading and singing with their kids.
If you’re interested in reading the full article click here, or if you want to know more about oracy programme Talking Matters, click here.
Supporting parents to help their kids learn is the key to getting more children reading successfully and getting the best start in education.
Oral language is the foundation for literacy, so we’re using International Literacy Day – Tuesday 8 September – to promote the importance of talking, singing, storytelling and reading to children.
Before we can read and write, we have to speak, listen and understand, so children need to be exposed to an abundance of language in their everyday lives.
A great way to grow children’s brains is through conversational turns – where the conversation goes back and forth between the adult and child at least five times (this is more than asking them questions).
Here are seven things you can do to support literacy and oracy on International Literacy Day:
- Dedicate the day to storytelling – invite a couple of parents to tell stories about their lives, or to tell the legends of their families and cultures
- Read aloud – read to your own kids or have them read to you or each other. Have every class read at the same time
- Create a random act of reading – grab a pile of books and take your children to read in the public such as the park, a café, or even on the footpath
- Spread the word – tell parents a couple of simple, free and easy ways to help grow their children’s brain by talking, singing and reading to them. One great idea is to make a collaborative digital book with your children
- Have a book swap next week – bring in books from home, ask other parents to do the same, and have a book swap
- With Father’s Day coming up this Sunday, ask all the Dads or father-figures you know to read to their children, and post a photo of it on social media
- Spread the word to your staff at work by having a short training session about the importance of oral language and consider how as an employer you might help improve literacy for your own staff
Keep up with us online
We will be posting facts, stats and updates about International Literacy Day and Talking Matters on Twitter – you can follow us here.
If you’re on Twitter, use #TalkingMatters in your tweets to help get our message across.
If you want to know more information about Talking Matters click here, or check out the links below for some recent interviews and articles on oracy and literacy: