Research suggests children are more likely to achieve higher academic results if they are able to read, write and perform basic computational mathematics tasks by the time they reach Year 3.
Now, more than ever, a flipped view of education is being embraced. More importance is being placed on early primary school education to ensure children are developing the skills that will give them the best possible foundations for a lifetime of learning by the beginning of Year 3.
According to New America publication, “Third grade marks a critical turning point in children's education, when they shift from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn.’” Students can develop and practise effective strategies from Kindergarten to Year 2 that will prepare them for the remainder of their primary and secondary schooling.
The evolving landscape of Early Learning in Australia
The Australian Bureau of Statistics states that the current landscape of enrolments in Early Learning is on the rise. In 2017, 339,243 children aged four or five were enrolled in a preschool program across Australia. Many schools now include a structured Early Learning curriculum that supports child development, play and creative thinking. Essentially, an effective preschool curriculum includes resilience building, unlocking imagination and creativity, and develops social, cognitive and emotional connectedness through play.
At Toorak College, we focus on skills that build grit and resilience while showing more inclusiveness by boosting parent engagement. Emphasis is placed on the whole child and their capabilities rather than what a child cannot do. In short, we identify a child’s strengths in order to further develop weaknesses or skills not yet attained.
Why do students need to be proficient by Year 3?
According to ACER research conducted in 2006 on Early Learning, “literacy development at the end of Year 1 and Year 2 is strongly influenced by literacy skills developed in the early years.” A child’s academic development begins before school, when they are introduced to a new world of learning. A good start to their education will help instil a better outcome for them later in life with the grasp of strong language and maths skills. If these skills are not adequate by the end of Year 2, the likelihood of this is that the student will feel overwhelmed, stressed and may experience a drop in self-esteem. For example, if a class is writing a narrative (story), a student with minimum or below-average literacy and numeracy skills may struggle to maintain focus, generate ideas and get their thoughts down on paper because they are unable to contextualise and apply their learning. The greater the grasp of core skills learned before Year 3, the more confident the child will feel to strive and accept challenges in their learning.
Are we hitting education benchmarks?
Australian education organisations are developing more information and data about the standards of students in literacy and numeracy. According to NAPLAN 2017, an average of 95 percent of students who participated in the assessment are at or above minimum standards of proficiency in Victoria in Year 3. This national assessment begins at Year 3 as that is the year when students are expected to be equipped with adequate reading and writing skills to begin developing deeper knowledge. On the other hand, NAPLAN 2018 scores suggest writing has deteriorated to its lowest point in a decade, with a record low of 94 percent of students hitting minimum or above standards. Toorak College is proudly above the average threshold, with three key areas receiving the highest results ever for the School: Year 9 Numeracy, Year 5 Reading and Year 3 Spelling.
How can we consolidate basic proficiency skills by Year 3?
Ensuring basic proficiency skills by Year 3 begins when one chooses the right kind of education for their child. When searching for a quality Early Learning Centre and Junior School, it is important to consider how the school is going to align the curriculum in terms of literacy, numeracy and life skills such as resilience and creative thinking. Our Early Learning and Prep to Year 2 curriculum aims to be nurturing, structured and rich in experiences that enable students to discover themselves as learners.
When deciding if a school is right for your child, I recommend that parents understand the school’s curriculum and pedagogy to determine how much attention is focused on reading, creative arts, science and language. Secondly, focus on how much time is dedicated to embracing skills such as critical and creative thinking, resilience and problem solving. With all this at the forefront of your mind, you will be able to make an informed decision of choosing the right place for your child. This will result in your child to enjoy their education and feel confident and competent to achieve excellence in Year 3 and beyond.