Sometimes ‘old skool’ is just better …

I’ve just spent the weekend packing up my parents’ home of 54 years, preparing it for sale as they (finally) agree to downsize. How good is the sandwich generation? Wouldn’t be dead for quids …

And among the treasures uncovered in the clean-up is a sizeable collection of Little Golden Books – the covers of which I only have to glimpse for a rush of nostalgia.

And it sent me on a trip down memory lane, recalling the rudimentary way  I was taught to read by a succession of elderly primary school teachers.

Hands up who remembers the SRA Reading Laboratory? That box of colour-coded A4 cards that sat in the corner of the classroom, quietly assessing each child’s reading and comprehension ability?

It sprang to mind again this morning when I read the news reports about the Grattan Institute’s new report into a looming reading crisis in Australian schools.

The report found that ‘in a typical Australian classroom of 24 students, eight can’t read well’ – and has called for a return to ‘old school’ methods of reading instruction and a wholesale change to the way teachers are trained.

It calls for a rejection of the ‘whole language’ method of teaching – a philosophy that learning to read is ‘a natural, unconscious process that students can master simply by being exposed to good literature’ – and a return to ‘explicit instruction’ and phonics.

I don’t profess to be an educational expert, but with Grattan reporting it’s a problem that costs the economy an estimated $40 billion over a child’s lifetime, surely it’s worth deeper examination.

Newshounds gets a leg-up

You’d have to have been living under something like a very large rock to have missed the memo that we’re pretty passionate here at Squiz Kids about teaching kids media literacy.

So we were both delighted and humbled to learn late last week that Newshounds – our podcast series/classroom resource teaching primary school kids how to recognise misinformation when they come across it online – has been awarded a grant as part of The Walkley Foundation‘s Meta Australian News Fund. 🎉🎉🎉

Not to put too fine a point on it, the grant will allow us to continue to offer Newshounds for free – whilst also undertake some long overdue work improving the user experience by updating the tech.

We’re incredibly proud that some 1,980 classrooms around the country have already signed up to the Newshounds pilot. So proud, in fact, that we had a meeting with Federal Education Minister, Jason Clare last week to walk him through our ambition to make Aussie kids the most media literate in the world.

Our friends at the Google News Initiative have been such great supporters of our media literacy crusade. And we’re super excited to now have Meta helping Squiz-E the Newshound do his thing.

Watch this space for what I hope will be more exciting Newshounds news in the not too distant future …

This week on Squiz Kids …

This week’s Squiz Kids Shortcut is on Evolution … where Christie and I get our Darwin on and head to the Galapagos to explore the theory of how life on Earth has changed over time. From fossils to dinosaurs, DNA to the Hunger Games: this pod has it all. And it drops first thing tomorrow morning. Get involved!

Teachers and home educators: don’t forget Christie – our resident primary-school teacher – produces a Classroom Companion every Monday. A differentiated, curriculum-aligned classroom worksheet tied to the podcast – and now searchable via a dedicated database. Genius.

And of course, on Friday you can test to see who’s been paying the most attention to the week that just was in our celebrated Kids v Adult Weekly News S’Quiz. Have a listen to last week’s here ICYMI.

And over on the Big Squiz 

Our mates over at The Squiz (aka the Big Squiz) are releasing their first News Club episode this week.

The topic? The age-old question of old age … When it comes to the US Presidential election, how old is too old to run for President? Joe Biden is 81 and Donald Trump is 77 – so they’d both be in their 80s at the end of the next Presidential term.

Head to @thesquiznewsclub if you’ve got questions or thoughts on the topic, this podcast is all about hearing from the audience. The episode is out on Tuesday, so hit follow on the News Club podcast on Apple and Spotify.

On our radar …

We’re up to our eyeballs all day, everyday in all things kids and parenting. So when we see an article or come across a topic we think you might be interested in, we’ll post it here.

Co-Ed v Single Sex … it’s the debate as old as school itself. Which is better? Single sex or co-ed schools? This article takes a look at the history of both, the theories around which offers the better student outcomes – and notes the trouble that’s brewing in some of Sydney’s oldest private boys’ schools.

Blame the iPad … looking for a convenient, blameless way to limit the amount of time your kids are staring at screens whilst avoiding the dreaded tech tantrum? Make technology the bad guy. As this report suggests – by using the in-built time limits on your devices, there’s a chance you’ll get off Scot-free. But just a chance, mind you.

Smile on your dial … 

If you’ve only recently sent a kid off to school for the first time – you’d know the anxiety a parent can feel, worrying how their little person is going to fare out there in the big world. Spare a thought then for Melanie Droubay, a mum of five whose gorgeous son, Hudson has Down Syndrome and just started pre-school. Watch this video of the daily affirmations they do together. Guaranteed to melt your heart …

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