Your child’s graduation day will soon arrive. You long to see your little one walk smartly up to the stage, receive the certificate, turn around with a cutie grin, bow to the audience, then skip happily down the stage and right into your outstretched arms. This will be the significant moment of pride, marking the closing chapter of your child’s kindergarten years. And hey presto! A new chapter will begin – Your child is going to Primary One. And along with this comes different teaching methodologies in school, among which is the STELLAR approach to learning.
What is STELLAR?
The acronym for ‘Strategies for English Language Learning and Reading’, this pedagogical approach nurtures the development of the four language skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing. STELLAR emphasises teaching and learning of English using more listening and speaking activities. Children learn reading and writing using interesting and richly illustrated books, with discussions facilitated by the teacher. The classroom is set up to promote children’s interactions rather than on teacher talk. It is filled with story books and various reading materials for children’s use and decorated with children’s works enriched with written language.
The heart of STELLAR curriculum lies in strengthening both language and reading skills, as well as promote a positive attitude towards reading in the foundational years. Using Big Books, children engage in shared reading and writing experiences, and language activities in the Learning Centres. To elaborate:
- Children read storybooks with the teacher and engage in oral discussions with teacher and peers.
- The teacher models writing using children’s language. Children engage in writing together and writing independently.
- The teacher prepares lesson activities based on specific needs of children to prepare them for reading and writing activities viz. grammar, vocabulary, word recognition, letter-sound relationships and spelling patterns.
STELLAR optimises the use of books as the learning platform to open up the world for children, help them to think and wonder, increase children’s vocabulary and knowledge about the world around them, and provide good examples for reading and writing. Children read storybooks which have strong storylines, interesting characters, clear print and attractive illustrations. The stories are designed to be repetitive and have rhyming words to help children remember words.
STELLAR programme invites parents to be co-partners and role models to help their children learn English. Parents are encouraged to foster a love for books and knowledge by taking their children to the library, providing English language reading materials at home, reading to and with their children, as well as engaging in post-reading activities such as talking about the books and characters, retelling the stories in their own words or even giving different endings to the stories read. Such is the creative intent of STELLAR made possible when children are able to communicate fluently.
Preparing Your Child for Primary One
Research has shown that if parents take interest in reading, their children follow suit. Shared reading also stimulates the feeling of warmth and security as parent and child bond and read together. You might want to check out EFI Readers to supplement your child’s school reading resources. Educational, fun and interactive, EFI is the latest addition in the education market to stimulate interest in reading, create opportunities for blended learning and prepare your child for Primary One.
How EFI Readers Complement STELLAR
Both EFI and STELLAR share the same fundamentals in using stories to promote shared reading experiences, teach language and literacy skills, stimulate thinking and encourage creativity. EFI takes a step further to make its blended-learning resources available on mobile devices, which include iPads and Android tablets. The digital version is enhanced with assisted narration, fun characters, animations, music and sound effects to make the stories come alive.
Ranging from local settings to animal stories and fantasy tales, each story revolves around a theme and imparts values such as good neighbourliness, friendship, loyalty, honesty, responsibility, and the importance of heeding parental instructions. EFI stories introduce your child to basic knowledge on endangered species, health and nutrition. Your child’s creative imagination is ignited through stories which have elements of magic and adventure. Based on these themes, there are many opportunities to enhance the learning experience through reading and sharing with your child. Here are some suggestions to adopt:
- Ask open-ended questions to encourage your child to think about the story and express opinions.
- Questions beginning with ‘Why?’ and ‘What do you think?’ are good examples.
- Talk about the characters and their actions. Ask your child what he/she would do given the same situation.
- Substitute your child’s name for the name of his/ her favourite character in the book and read the story together with your child.
- Encourage our child to retell the stories in his/her own words.
- Give different endings to the stories read.
The Best Gift for Your Child
Reading is the best gift you can give to your child and both EFI Readers and STELLAR books help facilitate this intent. Your child can make leaps and bounds in vocabulary and reading ability which is reinforced through EFI Readers. By reading stories that are age-appropriate as well as beyond your child’s reading level, you can stretch his/her understanding, vocabulary knowledge and imagination. Some of the vocabulary and language items in EFI Readers extend beyond the kindergarten curriculum to expose children to a broader range of words in the English Language.