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Castle Bruce Primary School Enhances Early Grade Reading Through Innovative Student, Parent Engagement

by: - February 7, 2020
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The Castle Bruce Primary School received grant funding from the OECS/USAID early learners programme to implement an innovative and interactive initiative for both students and parents that is delivering positive reading results.

Ninety-four (94) schools across the OECS have benefited from school-based grants of which approximately sixty-three (63) were specifically to support reading improvement.

A total exceeding EC $500,000 has been disbursed to support schools.

In 2017 the Castle Bruce Primary, with ELP grant funds, initiated a reading intervention inclusive of monthly engagements with parents, and the development of a reading and learning center within the school.

Alma Jno. Baptiste, a parent of the Castle Bruce Primary school reported that she has seen notable improvement in her son’s learning.

 “My son was in Grade K at the time it was introduced to our school and the progress from there I guess has lifted from zero to one hundred real quick. My son can read, he is very fluent. This ELP program is like a bomb. It’s not a thing you should pause, it’s a work-on program. We are working together for the children in lower classes who are coming up to be able to be independent like my son,” JnoBaptiste remarked.

According to reports from then OECS Media Center, the monthly parent engagements have enabled parents to experience similar reading activities as their children and have showcased fun learning activities that parents can mimic at home.

The teachers have created most of the teaching and reading aids which were made from basic items in order to show parents how to recreate these items at no cost as they replicate reading activities at home.

This forum has enabled the teachers to highlight the importance of reading from as early as kindergarten and has helped build a connection between parents and teachers in support of the students’ learning and growth.

An added component to the teacher parent connection is ‘one on one’ classroom meetings between teacher and parent where the child’s progress is discussed. The student’s performance: strengths and weaknesses are shared, and the instructional plan for the student is presented to the parent with key tips on how they can support their child’s progress. Through these initiatives over the last two years, the parents are appreciating the importance of building a strong reading foundation as well as their role in the learning process.

The second component of this innovative project is the development of the ELP Reading and Learning Room which the teachers agree is unconventional for a Caribbean school — with very brightly coloured décor, many developmental games, a writing area, a sand area for letter practice, a listening centre with computers and a library area with various culturally relevant and age appropriate books. Castle Bruce has further created a cafeteria theme with a menu of letters, sight words, adjectives and verbs that are individually featured on the menu daily.

One of the teachers involved in this project, Ms. Hannel Jackson, noted, “This project has been highly successful. The entire school has become involved specifically teachers: Brittany Etienne, Jeanetta Graham and the principal Jovin Joseph, along with the teachers responsible for Kindergarten to Grade 3.”

“We have an overall enrollment of 87 students and by now most of the students have been positively impacted by this programme. There are ten (10) parents who have consistently been engaged on a monthly basis with the school and we have seen the positive impact with their children.”

“Additionally, we had eight (8) students at the beginning of the project whose reading levels were well below their grade level and who have increased their reading level and shown clear improvement. This has had a huge positive impact on the school overall and we are very excited to continue to grow this programme for the benefit of our young learners,” Jackson said.

The EDMU of the OECS Commission commends Castle Bruce Primary on its reading interventions which strengthens the home-school connection.