Pramstead interviews Camilla Macoun, the lovely Belsize Park mum-of-three and founder of 'The Bear Can Read' - personalised phonics and reading material boxes for children starting to read:
Can you tell me a little about your background and why you decided to set up 'The Bear Can Read'?
I have been a children’s educational publisher for over 10 years and was often asked by friends what books they should buy to help their children learn to read at home.
I also knew from my work with teachers that when parents support children at home with the sounds they are learning at school, it has a huge impact. I wanted to make it easier for families to practise reading at home in the same way children are taught in school.
That’s how The Bear Can Read was born, a monthly bundle of the best phonics material – books at the right level, focused worksheets and expert advice, all delivered with a fine balance of purpose and fun.
Why do parents need support at home when teaching their kids phonics?
Phonics is like a ladder of sounds that children learn – and phonics books at the right level only contain the sounds that children know or are learning.
Parents often have lots of lovely picture books, but when children are learning to read, they need phonics books to build their confidence and to gently stretch them.
I always recommend lots of practise of the sounds that children are learning in school is the best way to support them.
What advice would you give to parents during this time?
I think it’s important to prioritise. We need to accept that we just can’t do it all.
With my own kids, I’ve decided that I’m OK if they don’t do all their subjects every day but probably, unsurprisingly, I’m prioritising reading to make sure they don’t fall behind. Many studies have linked reading ability and children’s attitudes towards reading to wider attainment. It’s really important to me that we keep the motivation high around reading. We send a The Bear Can Read box to my daughter’s grandmother so they read the same books together over zoom – it has been a huge success as they have both loved it!
How can the Bear Can Read help parents / kids?
Parents don’t often know what reading level their child is on and many schools don’t communicate this. The Bear Can Read places your child on a reading band that is linked to National Curriculum targets and takes into account their age and the time in the school year. We then give you guidance about what too easy, too hard and just right looks like in practise and can adjust the level if necessary after they get started. We source the new phonics books for you as they move through the levels and deliver them to your front door in a fun personalised box.
What age ranges do the boxes cover?
We start with a Cubs club for children aged 2-3. This is a really important age for introducing key concepts and we’ve just launched our Panda club for children aged 6-7, so the range is ages 2-7.
What would you advise parents to do if their child falls behind with their reading?
Don’t worry! Every child has their own reading journey. We include reference charts on The Bear Can Read in order to give parents a information about schools stages/children’s ages and what typical book bands they are reading, but I have mixed feelings about this as it really doesn’t matter and I don’t want parents to worry if their child isn’t ‘on track’. All that matters is that they are making progress and you can be a big part of this by regularly practising, even if it’s just for 5-10 minutes a day.
Thanks so much and congratulations on this fantastic business!
Pramstead followers can make usage of a special 10%off using the code WELCOME10 to get their first box for £10 only plus FREE DELIVERY!