Our primary school does a one hour individual assessment of all the prep's within the first four weeks of them starting. Ella had her assessment with her teacher on Wednesday. The testing is to assess their numeracy and literacy skills. They ask very simple questions to begin such as - how high can you count and then go on to counting backwards, seeing if they have comprehension of division by giving them a number of items and asking them to put equal amounts on different cards. They also gave them flash cards with numbers written on and another set with dots in the corresponding amounts and asked them if they could match them. It was very interesting to observe and see learning at its very foundations. Whilst Ella understands a lot, some concepts were completely foreign. One, I must confess, was being able to say the days of the week and months of the year in order!
Reading skills are of particular interest to us as we are a very book friendly family and we have encouraged that interest in the girls from the start.
I chatted to Ella's teacher about the process of learning to read and the difference between reading and learning by rote. Ella can quickly memorise stories and poems and "read" them word for word, even if she hasn't seen the book for quite some time. Ella's teacher said that prep students are the best for memorising things and in that respect "learn" very quickly. She said that to move on to the actual reading part, mastering memorising is necessary, but you need to encourage them to challenge that. For example,children memorise words in the order they appear, that's why stories are easier for them to remember. She said that's why flash cards are good for learning new words because the position changes every time and they must genuinely learn what the word looks like in many different contexts.
Reading is something I'm most excited about and I have to say that being in Ella's classroom makes me genuinely interested in teaching overall. I've always enjoyed the company of children, even before I had my own, and can think of no greater achievement than helping a child learn and come to love the process of learning. On occasions I've considered studying to be an early learning teacher - kinder or prep - but I never completed HSC so it would be long road for me. There is so much to fill one's life with, so many things to do, just never enough time.
Having said all that, schoolgirls do learn fast and Ella has started "reading" Leila her bedtime story each night this week. It's amazing how quickly the routine changes - previously no-one could do stories with Leila except me, now her story, nappy change and bedtime song are all taken care of by Ella. Very, very sweet.