Erin Schryer

Executive Director, Elementary Literacy Inc.


Learning to Read with a Nerf Blaster

The evidence base around how children learn to read and should thus be taught, is very well well-established. However, ongoing contentious debates abound that often leave children behind. In Canada, millions of adults have low literacy- the majority of whom are Canadian-born adults who attended school in Canada as children. Research suggests that their struggles with learning to read were likely experienced early, and in the absence of skilled intervention, persisted throughout their schooling. The most recent reading data from New Brunswick, for example, reveals that just 63.2% of Grade 6 anglophone students were successful on the provincial reading assessment last year while just 62.7% of Grade 3 francophone students were successful on a comparable exam. This equates to 3132 and 1380 students respectively- 4512 total- who are struggling with reading and who will continue to falter without effective intervention.

This session will take you through my journey of pulling back the reading “onion” addressing questions, including: Why are so many children struggling with reading in elementary school? What emergent and early reading skills set children up for reading success? How are these skills best taught in the early years? What early learning experiences are necessary for building a strong reading foundation and who plays a role? What influence or power do we give the home and parents? My evidence draws from two SSHRC funded studies and my work with schools and daycares.


Erin Schryer is the Executive Director of Elementary Literacy Inc., a provincial non-profit organization in New Brunswick, pairing volunteer reading mentors with struggling grade two readers. The organization serves over 1000 students annually in both English and French. Erin is also an Honorary Research Associate with the Faculty of Education at the University of New Brunswick. She maintains a Facebook Page and YouTube channel sharing research-based information in an accessible way with parents and other caregivers of young children to help them enable their children to thrive. Follow her @DrErinSchryer.