I-PLAY Has Positive Impact On Preschoolers

October 18, 2017

The Reading Clinic is reporting that its innovative I-PLAY programme, an initiative supported by Clarien Bank, Bank of Bermuda Foundation and the Ministry of Education, continues to have a positive impact on improving preschool literacy skills.

A spokesperson said, “I-PLAY [Interactive Phonological Literacy Activities for Youngsters], which presently operates in four Government preschools, is designed to promote preschoolers’ phonological skills, such as rhyming and recognising the sounds in words.

“These skills are key predictors of later reading ability and weaknesses can indicate possible future reading difficulties, such as dyslexia.

“The programme’s 2016-17 Evaluation Report shows that during the 2016-17 school year, 120 children received screenings with 91 [76%] receiving additional small group instruction. In total, I-PLAY delivered 710 sessions over 236 hours.

“All children enrolled in participating preschools [Southampton, St. Paul, Lyceum and Victor Scott] receive a screening of their pre-literacy skills. For children who appear to need a boost in phonological skills, small groups of 3-4 children are organised to provide extra exposure to interactive sound-based activities using toys and pictures.

“Students who required small group intervention in 2016-17 had pre-test scores between the 19th–30th percentiles in all areas, based on U.K. standards, but by the end of the school year had improved by between 18 and 29 percentile points. They are now, on average, performing close to the expected mean for children of their age.

“A total of 11 children were recommended for additional services as they were considered to have needs beyond the scope of the I-PLAY programme. In addition, 27 students were recommended to be monitored as they move in to Primary 1, given the weaknesses or concerns noted on their final I-PLAY assessments.

“The results demonstrate that the gap in skills can be closed for most children. There will always be a few that will require additional instruction or services but with I-PLAY, those numbers can be reduced before a child enters formal education.”

A full copy of the 2016-17 Evaluation Report can be viewed online.

Dr. Glenn Faries, Executive Director of The Reading Clinic, said, “It is rewarding to see that the I-PLAY programme continues to positively impact our preschoolers by improving phonological awareness such as their abilities to recognise word sounds, rhymes and syllables.

“Children who, on entry to pre-school are struggling with these pre-literacy concepts, are taught skills and knowledge in a small group format that will aid them in their mastery of reading in primary school years and beyond.”

Mrs. Pamela Carr, I-PLAY programme coordinator, said, “By providing lessons in a game-like format with toys and/or pictures, the children are not only learning essential pre-reading skills, but they are having fun at the same time. Our preschoolers want to attend these lessons.”

Dr. Faries said, “We are extremely grateful to Clarien Bank as our Lead Sponsor, and Bank of Bermuda Foundation as the Founding Sponsor, for their continued support of I-PLAY and for their unique vision with respect to the importance of early childhood education initiatives in Bermuda.

“As we approach our 50th anniversary in 2018, the importance of fostering longstanding partnerships with the donor community becomes even more apparent, as we seek to build sustainable programmes that benefit our entire community, and which can grow in accordance with the needs of the community.”

Michael DeCouto, Chief Marketing Officer of Clarien Bank, said, “Clarien is proud to play a part in the continued development of I-PLAY. The 2016-17 Evaluation Report underlines how important and essential the programme is in helping Bermuda’s preschoolers fulfill their potential.

“We are excited by The Reading Clinic’s long-term goals to improve and extend the scope of the programme and consider it a privilege to be a partner in helping the Clinic reach those objectives.”

Margaret Hallett, Bank of Bermuda Foundation Deputy Chair and Chair of the Education Review Committee, said, “Bank of Bermuda Foundation recently launched a new strategic direction. The I-PLAY programme is consistent with our focus on funding efforts to strengthen public education as well as early childhood.

“The outcome we are seeking for education is that ‘People lead purposeful lives, with equitable opportunities, as independent thinkers who are socially aware and productively engaged’. We believe that I-PLAY delivers important services to young children in public pre-schools and provides explicit evidence of their effectiveness.

“The Foundation is proud to be a Programme Founding Partner of I-PLAY.”

“The Reading Clinic plans to provide further professional development for educators and educational sessions for parents, as well as workshops on reading to preschoolers. In addition, it is conducting research to evaluate the long-term outcome of children in the I-PLAY programme in conjunction with development of an executive function curriculum for preschool children.”

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