Teacher with a passion for reading

Iréne-Mari van der Walt
All teacher Melinda Haradoe's (@_raise.a.reader) videos on TikTok have already been viewed thousands of times.
In these videos, she shares tips on how to improve young children's reading skills and reading comprehension. She also lives out her passion for teaching at Vooruit Primary School in Otjiwarongo.
"Reading is the mother of all subjects. How is a child going to do their maths or science work if they can't read and understand the problem?" she said.
She believes a lack of phonetic awareness hinders the reading skills of pupils nationwide.
"There is a lack in kindergartens - it must start there with phonetic awareness. It is all about the pupil's ability to identify and understand sounds. Phonics only refers to the sounds, but pupils must be able to read, understand and process sounds themselves," she explains.
Melinda says she has already come across numerous pupils who cannot read and understand text properly in grade 7. However, she says children she teaches in grade 1 often read at grade 5 level. Some of her pupils already achieve a grade 10 reading level in grade 1.
"The child arrives here as an empty box and it is good to see when they can read complete books and even the books I read," she says.
According to Melinda, many teachers in Namibia do not understand the difference between phonics and phonological awareness, and she says this is what is holding back Namibia's literacy rate. "I would like the state to understand how important phonological awareness is and implement it already at pre-school level."
However, she expresses her praise for the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture's program that trains parents to be able to help their child with his or her homework at the foundation stage.
Parents need to be involved
"Parents must help their children and that is why I explain on my page how their children can learn to read. They can use it too, but you know some parents just aren't interested," she says.
Melinda says her role as a parent encouraged her to become a teacher.
"I wanted to enrol my first child at Duneside Primary School in Walvis Bay about 20 years ago. They said I should take my child to an occupational therapist to have him tested. The tests determined that he was not ready for school, but the occupational therapist explained to me how a child's brain works. She explained to me that you can plant the same seed in two children, but they will not grow at the same rate. There I got a desire to become a teacher," she explains.
She then researched how to help children with their reading skills and maths comprehension and later started her pre-primary school. A decade later, she pursued a teaching qualification and enrolled in the Montessori program.
"Due to circumstances I had to leave Montessori first, but I later completed my qualification at IOL (Institute for Open Learning)," she says.
She then took her passion and knowledge to state schools. However, she says her dream of starting her school is still alive.
"I still have a desire to build my school. I want to start a reading school and that's why I started my page - to help teachers teach children to read," she says. – [email protected]