Reading and Writing Success in the Spotlight

Calrossy Primary offers the best start to literacy.

"The InitiaLit program has given us the confidence that we are providing every child in every classroom with the best possible chance of reading and writing success."

In order to continue to raise standards in literacy from Prep to Year Two at Calrossy Anglican School, we have invested in professionally developing our Infants teachers. This has resulted in the successful implementation of the ‘InitiaLit’ program, focusing on building skills and knowledge in spelling, reading and writing. InitiaLit is an evidence-based whole-class literacy program providing all children with the essential core knowledge and strong foundations to become successful readers and writers. This program was chosen to build on our existing ‘PreLit’ program taught in Prep and to complement our use of MultiLit in the Primary School.

Learning to read and spell is a complex process which requires expert teaching. For all children to learn to read successfully they need to be taught in a way that uses evidence of how beginning readers become skilled readers. Children who receive evidence based early reading instruction are less likely to have reading difficulties.

InitiaLit is a comprehensive whole class program for initial literacy teaching, developed by Macquarie University. It has been designed using scientific research on how children learn to read and the most effective ways to teach them. InitiaLit incorporates the essential elements of reading instruction in a systematic and explicit way for students from Kindergarten to Year Two. The lessons involve a combination of teacher directed instruction with independent and small group activities to consolidate their learning. The activities are engaging and meaningful. It is informed by rigorous international research, showing that for beginning readers to become skilled readers teaching must include five essential components: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.  InitiaLit lessons include each of these five elements.

InitiaLit uses teaching strategies that are based on the cognitive science of reading development in the brain. This research shows that learning the connections between letters and sounds is a necessary part of learning to read. The phonics component of InitiaLit is based on a synthetic phonics approach, which research has shown is the most effective way to help children learn to decode words accurately and fluently. Synthetic phonics teaches children the alphabetic principle explicitly and systematically. Children learn to automatically identify letter-sound correspondences and blend them together, to fluently and independently read words, then sentences, and eventually books. InitiaLit also provides explicit instruction and differentiated activities to develop oral language vocabulary and reading comprehension. 

Enjoyment of reading is important and children's books are an intrinsic part of InitiaLit. InitiaLit provides the fundamental literacy building blocks that underpin the ability to read accurately for meaning and for pleasure. InitiaLit has given Calrossy a consistent approach from Kindergarten to Year Two so that all of our teachers are on the same page and teaching a sequence of skills that gets us to the best possible place at the end Year Two - and we've seen the results in our children, and the cumulative effect of that skill development. 

The Pre-Lit program continues to cater for children in the year before school. InitiaLit F is for Kindergarten. It is designed with the youngest students in mind. InitiaLit 1 is for Year One students and has a continued emphasis on evidence-based instruction delivered with a sense of fun and purpose. It is engaging and well-paced, combining teacher directed explicit instruction with differentiated and targeted activities that keep students interested and on task. The activities are designed to consolidate the content of the lessons. InitiaLit F and InitiaLit 1 are strongly focused on helping beginning readers to develop the decoding skills they need to be able to read and spell words. InitiaLit F and InitiaLit 1 also include oral language and literature components. It expands their vocabulary so children can understand the words they're reading using their decoding skills. Lessons include storybook sessions that use a mixture of well-known and new children's literature to develop oral language vocabulary and comprehension, but also to introduce children to the world of picture books and reading for pleasure. In Intialit 2 - which is for Year Two students, the program's focus shifts to spelling, comprehension, grammar and vocabulary. At this stage of the program children will be decoding accurately and developing their reading fluency. Teaching in InitiaLit two emphasizes skills and knowledge that methodically guides children toward a reading level that will allow them to fully engage with the wider school curriculum in the upper years of primary school. 

InitiaLit provides consistency and seamlessness in teaching across the crucial Kindergarten to Year Two period for literacy acquisition. Calrossy teachers can easily identify the children who are needing intervention in a timely and fluid response. Allowing all learning needs in the classroom to be catered for with specific skill development.

Calrossy Anglican School’s InitiaLit program has given us the confidence that we are providing every child in every classroom with the best possible chance of reading and writing success. 

Rob Marchetto

Director of Quality Teaching and Learning