The students of St Giles Primary School now have a fun teaching method to help them understand the relationships between the 44 phonemes of spoken English and the 26 letters of the alphabet.
And as a result of this new development, teachers now have greater scope to assist them in developing the necessary reading skills and habits for problem-solving and comprehension competencies.
Today the Ivy, St Michael school became the first institution in the Caribbean to launch the Teaching, Handwriting, Reading And Spelling Skills (THRASS) phonics programme, which is widely used in Britain and South Africa, providing the foundation for students to experience and enjoy reading a wide variety of books such as fiction, non-fiction, poetry and plays.
The programme was donated by British educational psychologist Allan Davies and was officially presented to the school by the Yvonne Spencer, director and co-founder of the Caribbean Dyslexic Centre.
Principal Claudette Moseley-Clarke said that when the opportunity arose for a teacher to be trained in using the programme, with the hope of having it piloted in the school, management immediately accepted the invitation because the rare opportunity was viewed as another stepping stone towards achieving the vision of ensuring that every child in the school was able to master the eight essential skills needed for successful reading as outlined in the National Policy For Reading For Barbados.
She indicated that THRASS would complement the school’s Reading Stars Programme, which was started in November last year in an effort to encourage students from all classes to read a selected number of books over a ten-week period. At the end of that period, the students engaged in a number of reading response activities geared towards building and improving their phonic, fluency and writing skills.
“We perceive these activities to be of great importance to our children, who will at some point in their lives encounter new challenges and who will ultimately have to thrive in what was certain to be a much more multifaceted, unpredictable and fast-changing future.
“We at St Giles Primary are committed to creating a wholesome, student-centred, learning environment of high expectations of success as defined in our mission statement. For we are cognizant of the fact that if our students are to develop and maintain a belief in self that would enable them to grasp present and future opportunities through which they will be propelled to develop their skills and creativity,” she said.
And, in delivering the feature address, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation Senator Harry Husbands told the students, teachers and other dignitaries gathered at the launch that he believed the commendable programme would allow students to shine like stars.
He told the teachers that while they were teaching in very complex and very difficult times, it was important for them to utilize interactive teaching methods such as THRASS to keep students interested and learning fun.
“It is necessary in our teaching to explore alternative approaches, bring new ideas, be innovative and be creative in what you do in the classroom. I see this morning as being part of that innovation and that creativity that exist in the teaching profession, that at a time when these types of approaches are needed, you have gone the extra mile to deliver a high-quality programme, largely on your own initiative and creativity, to the students of this school. And that for me, as a teacher, is very heart-warming,” he said.