Imagine at the end of grade two, a child already falling behind in reading. While others in their class are excited how words and sentences make up stories and open up new experiences and wonders, for a child who is struggling with reading, it’s easy to lose interest and start down the road of giving up.
While all children learn and develop at their own pace, those who are not reading at grade level by the end of grade three, are at significant risk of not completing high school. It is sad to say, but often times, teachers know in elementary school those who will not make it.
Reading really is the foundation for all learning. Soon ‘learning to read’ changes to ‘reading to learn’ and the gap becomes even more significant. If you struggle with reading, chances are you are going to have a difficult time understanding a math problem, appreciating literature, reading a service manual in shop class or grasping the wonders of science.
While the resources schools put into reading support and intervention in the early grades are significant, a small number of students, the ones we are talking about here, need more.
Looking at how the Foundation for Red Deer Public Schools could best enhance and enrich learning opportunities for students, our new strategic plan closely aligns with key priorities for the district. Literacy will be the key focus for the Foundation.
While over the years our programming has had a significant impact on students right across the district, the Foundation was looking for even more significant connections with our schools and the community. By supporting literacy, we can have a profound impact on students.
Our first major literacy project will be Reading College, providing these children with an amazing summer experience that will not only develop their reading skills but even more importantly, increase their interest in reading.
We know that summers are supposed to provide children a break from school. We also know that summer is a time when reading levels actually decline if students are not engaged in reading and other stimulating experiences. As great as summer is, for many students, it is idle time with limited activity or stimulation. For those already behind in reading, the gap widens during summer break. For children attending Reading College, programming promises to be dynamic and exciting…we promise it will be a great way to spend their summer.
We are thrilled to be partnering with Red Deer College where the program will be operating. Imagine being seven years old and spending your summer as a ‘college student.’ RDC provides an exciting learning environment, be it science labs, arts facilities, trades and technology—these will all be themes throughout the Reading College experience and help make reading and learning real and powerful. Imagine the possibilities and potential it develops as these children experience the RDC campus and look to the future.
During the first year of the program, we will focus on three target schools. Teachers will refer students to the program where there are already significant gaps and there is a belief the child will really benefit from the program. As we launch the program, we are looking to have 30 children involved, in the future, we anticipate this will grow. Connections with parents will be crucial as their support will be essential. The program will also work with parents in letting them know the vital role they play in developing their children’s reading skills and interests.
Children will attend Reading College five days a week for four weeks. We will pick students up by school bus, so transportation won’t be an issue for families. The day will begin with and include healthy meals and snacks, important to provide energy for a packed day.
Incorporating best practices from similar programs, Reading College, will be led by a master teacher as well as students and faculty from the education program at Red Deer College so each child will receive lots of direct support. The day will be enriched with different activities and field trips to bring reading alive.
While the real results for many projects may be elusive, through evaluation before, during and after the project, Reading College will demonstrate the positive impact the program has on students. As these students return to school in the fall, connections will already have been made with their new teachers to build on the successes the student achieved at Reading College.
High school completion really begins in elementary school. Reading and writing are the foundations of learning which opens the world of possibilities and potential. We all have a stake to ensure students achieve their personal best.
In the end,Reading College will exemplify the mission of Red Deer Public Schools…by inspiring learning and nurturing hope in every student.
For more information, please contact
Bruce Buruma, Executive Director
The Foundation for Red Deer Public Schools
Red Deer, AB T4N 2E6