Lower School
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Learning to Read: Lower School Reading Philosophy Takes Individualized Approach

By Susan Miller, Head of Lower School
This article appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of the Tower Hill Bulletin

Reading is fundamental to any educational experience, opening the door to discovery and truly empowering students to take ownership of their learning. At Tower Hill, the Lower School Reading Philosophy is grounded in the latest research to meet the challenges of teaching literacy in the 21st century. Our faculty members examine best practices in education nationally to ensure that we provide the very best foundation for students’ continued success.
Instruction is designed to be individualized and flexible to most effectively meet our students where they are and advance their ability to think deeply about increasingly complex texts. The Reading Philosophy is based on a set of comprehensive principles to ensure excellent instruction for students, incorporating:
• Early reading instruction that meets individual needs
• Literacy instruction that includes phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency and comprehension strategies, word study and vocabulary
• Teaching that builds skill and the desire to read increasingly complex materials
• Instruction that emphasizes high-volume, high-success, high-interest reading materials and extended time to spend reading
• Flexible instructional groups 
• A variety of books and other reading material in their classrooms and school library
• Assessment that identifies strengths as well as needs and involves students in making decisions about their own learning
This framework incorporates a variety of reading approaches, acknowledging that students need to use multiple strategies to become proficient and lifelong readers. The Reading Philosophy provides and cultivates the skills of reading, writing, thinking, speaking and listening. 
The teacher’s role is that of a coach. The teacher is the knowledgeable decision maker who continually monitors and adjusts support and instruction based on students’ needs, interests and experiences; assessments inform and shape instruction. Teachers scaffold literacy learning by actively enhancing students’ understanding while they read. With the goal of helping readers become independent thinkers, problem solvers and goal setters, teachers tailor instruction to ensure our students are supported and challenged. 
Ultimately we are striving for students to develop a love of reading and high-level skills at an early age. In the context of strong and collaborative relationships between each individual student and his or her teachers and a nurturing environment that provides time for collaboration and conversation with others, our students grow and develop as deep thinkers and lovers of reading!