Fostering Literacy in Abbotsford Celebrates the First Year
Time to party! In June, project participants celebrated the completion of the first year of the Fostering Literacy Project in Abbotsford. Decoda staff had a great time with the students, the parents, the tutors, and the coordinators. We heard the older boys read and they told us about some of their favourite books and what made them so good. We talked about what we all learned. And we made ice cream sundaes!
In Abbotsford, the School District and Literacy Matters partnered to pilot Decoda’s Fostering Literacy Project. The goal was to improve reading skills and increase reading enjoyment for young students struggling with reading, to engage families, and to share tips and strategies that support learning at home. Students were matched with high school mentors who played and read with them twice a week. Mentors were trained to be tutors and to recognize their learners’ barriers. Building relationships was integral to this responsive learning experience.
By the end of the program, tutors and parents noticed that their students identified as readers, were more confident, understood more of what they read and had larger vocabularies. The children were enthusiastic about reading and could see their improvement. They were able to try new words without fear of making mistakes. They were able to stay on task and pay attention.
The children being tutored weren’t the only ones to benefit. Tutors learned patience, the importance of advance preparation, and how to balance being in charge and allowing their students to have choices. They learned how to adapt the “lesson” to meet the needs of that child in that moment. The tutors learned how each child learns differently.
Charlotte Siemens, District Principal for the Abbotsford School District, told the tutors:
“When I arrived, Paul was peeking out the window waiting for Steven to arrive, and then you engaged him in reading a comic book. Susan was so excited about the baby chicks in her sister’s classroom, and Del you were extending the learning by reading her a book about eggs and chickens. Jess, you did a great job continuing to bring Kristi back on her rolling chair to read the book. Sam couldn’t sit still, yet he was totally engrossed in the book about the space shuttle and learning academic vocabulary as he looked at the pictures with you Mel.
“I know your jobs are not always easy; it is very obvious to me how much the kids enjoy you and how they are tackling reading, although that is not always an easy task for them.”
One grade 11 tutor said,
“I think the most enjoyable part of this program is creating a relationship with the child you tutor. It becomes more than just one hour of reading and you start to look forward to that part of the day when you see them again. I was prepared to see growth in my learner but I didn’t expect to see growth in myself. Meeting with her twice a week grounded me.”
Extra support to complement home and school learning can help children learn to read and write. Decoda’s Fostering Literacy Project is being piloted to provide some of this support. After a successful initial year, this project has been extended to 13 more communities in British Columbia!