For many, summer is a time to hang out at a beach or park, laze in the sun, maybe take along a book — or, these days, an e-reader.
Reading and summer go together so well that numerous media outlets and publishers push a list of "beach reads" as the season approaches. Local libraries run programs for young people and often adults. Department stores move the books into a central aisle just like at Christmas. And everyone seems to have a great recommendation.
But for many young people, summer is a time when they don't have to read anymore. No more pencils, nor more books, no more ...
Well, you know how that chant goes, I'm sure. For a young person who is a reluctant reader or feels left behind in school because they're not quite at the same level as their peers, summer is a welcome reprieve.
However, really taking a break from reading becomes a self-perpetuating cycle, where the child loses skills over the summer that were clawed for tooth and nail during the school year. This is the dilemma many parents face: how to keep up their child's skills while still letting them revel in the freedom and fun of summer?
Enter Laubach Literacy's Summer Reading for Fun program. Since 1990, Newfoundland and Labrador Laubach Literacy Council with funding from the Student Works and Services Program and their own fundraising efforts has been matching at-risk readers with older mentor readers while also offering a summer camp-like list of activities.
"It's essential," says council director Margie Lewis, "to provide community-based one-on-one help for all learners. Our youngest readers get value from this program, enhancing or maintaining their literacy and numeracy skills where in the past, before this program, they would've fallen behind. Secondary and post-secondary students also benefit from the program, finding work in their home community and receiving special training and skills that will help them in their future education and career endeavours."
But it's not just about skills. It's also about fun. It is summer, after all!
Serving children from kindergarten on up, the Summer Reading for Fun program is completely free to families. Children get at least an hour a week of one-on-one tutoring as well as the opportunity to participate in group events and special fun days. The tutors receive a special 31-hour training course that helps them engage with young readers, so that even the one-on-one tutoring is more like play and less like school.
For many children, this can make a big difference. Without the pressure of school and performance and with the added bonus of turning learning into a social event, many children thrive and advance skills that they struggled with all school year. The program is touted as "bridging the gap" from June to September, but for some it allows them to soar right over that gap.
In many ways the program offers a lot that our schools no longer seem able to: individualized attention and extracurricular learning opportunities. Each child works at their own level and progresses at their own pace with an assigned tutor — this is the cornerstone of all Laubach "Each One Teach One" programs.
It is fitting that children be exposed to a style and method of learning that had its origins in grassroots education. Frank Laubach was a missionary who sought to teach local tribal groups how to communicate in written language.
When his programs lost funding and he could no longer hire teachers, a village elder proclaimed that each person who had already been taught to read should take another villager under their tutelage and teach them to read — and thus was born the "Each One Teach One" philosophy: a grassroots community-based approach to supporting other members of our community in their learning journey.
Where institutions struggle and sometimes fail, students always have promise, and that is the beauty of programs like Summer Reading for Fun. The ability to engage children one on one, pander to their learning style, and make the whole process enjoyable can well be the factors that influence whether a child learns to actually enjoy reading — regardless of their skill level. In my opinion and experience, as long as a child enjoys reading, the rest will fall into place.
Summer Reading for Fun is being held at sites throughout the province. Here in Corner Brook, there are two sites. One is located at the old Ivy Court Community Centre in Dunfield Park. Registration for the program takes place on June 26 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The other site is at the College of the North Atlantic campus on O'Connell Drive. Registration for that program will take place on July 3, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Referral forms will be sent to schools this week.
If you think your child would benefit from this program, please ask your teacher to refer him or her. The program is free and open but priority is given to referred students.
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