Wed | Apr 8, 2020

Holness: Move children beyond counting words to understanding

Published:Wednesday | May 9, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
Minister of State Floyd Green reads to children at Glenhope Nursery in Kingston on Read Across Jamaica Day, as part of the activities to commemorate Child Month yesterday.
Dr Peter Phillips talking with some students at the Maxfield Park Primary School as part of the Read Across Jamaica Day programme yesterday.
Mona Preparatory students Caleb Rose (left) and Joel Dempster purchase colouring books from the Blue Banyan booth at the FLOW Foundation Read Across Jamaica Day Festival and Reading Session held at Hope Zoo yesterday.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness described his time at St Joseph's Infant School in downtown Kingston yesterday as insightful and fun-filled. However, he urged parents to take the time to make sure that children move beyond counting words towards understanding basic concepts.

Speaking with The Gleaner following his participation in Read Across Jamaica Day activities, the prime minister said that there was a common misconception among parents that once children began to speak, they were able to read.

"One thing I discovered when I was minister of education, and being a younger member of parliament at the time, was that parents took it for granted that their children could read. Once they heard their children speak, then they assumed that the child could read," he said.

"That's not the case. Reading is actually a learnt skill, and you have to be very involved in the development of that skill with your child," Holness said.

"There's a difference between counting words and reading. The ultimate objective of reading is to communicate and understand. There are many students in school who count their words, but they can't communicate through reading and they are not gaining any understanding," he explained.




The school's principal, Rosemarie Clarke, said that the institution would continue to highlight the importance of reading to students and their parents.

"Read Across Jamaica Day is important to us, and this day has always been filled with activities," Clarke stated. "We are saying to our students that you must read in order to succeed. Hence, we have coupled Read Across Jamaica Day with our Book and Career Fair. We invite the professionals from the outside to come dressed in their uniforms, bring the tools of their trade and read to the children," she added.

"The Government has been saying that there is a problem with literacy at the national level; we have been ensuring that we pay special attention to under-standing sounds and using those sounds to make words," Clarke disclosed.