#Jamaica, May 09, 2018 – Kingston – Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, is imploring parents to be more involved in getting the children to hone their reading skills, as this will ensure their cognitive prowess is also developed.
“Reading is actually a learnt skill, and you have to be very involved in the development of the reading skill with your child,” he said.
The Prime Minister was speaking to journalists after participating in a reading session with students of the St. Joseph’s Infant School in downtown Kingston today (May 8) as part of Read Across Jamaica Day.
Mr. Holness also distributed reading books to the students. He lamented that parents may assume their children are able to read once they hear them speaking, but in fact, they have not developed the comprehension skills in order to understand what they are reading and are merely “counting words”.
“There are many students in school who are counting words, but they can’t communicate through reading and they are not gaining any understanding. Parents will oftentimes hear their children counting the words, but not reading them in a way that either communicates a meaning to people listening or themselves gaining understanding,” he said.
The Prime Minister pointed out that the active participation of parents in asking, “what do you think this means?” or explaining to children what something they have read means, is an important part of the reading process.
Mr. Holness stressed that reading is an important skill that helps to build confidence from an early age, and will help persons later in life to express themselves well in all settings.
“There are many Jamaicans who are very shy in speaking in a formal setting because they may feel challenged with the language, but if you have your child reading in an expressive way from an early age, they will overcome that nervousness and they will be more assertive in themselves, and they will be able to speak and project,” he said.
During the event, the Prime Minister, who was accompanied by Member of Parliament for West Kingston and Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, interacted with the students and read storybooks to them.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister signed the school’s guest book. In his comment, he lauded the St. Joseph’s Infant School on being a model early-childhood institution, and described the principal, Rose Marie Clarke, as an outstanding educator, who is innovative and passionate.
Mrs. Clarke told JIS News that the Prime Minister’s visit to the school has left a huge impression on the students.
“(It says to them that) if I want to be a Prime Minister, I must be able to read. So, they may want to search out that book he read to them and that will spark the interest, and that is why we think that coupling Read Across Jamaica Day with (our) Career Fair and getting anybody from the plumber to the Prime Minister to come (and interact with them), our students will see the importance of reading,” she said.
Read Across Jamaica Day forms part of activities to mark Child Month, which is being celebrated in May.