College gets kids reading

Struggling with reading, school wasn’t as fun as it once was for seven-year-old Tye.

Struggling with reading, school wasn’t as fun as it once was for seven-year-old Tye.

His mom, Ashley Ancion, had even thought about holding him back a year because of the difficult time he was having.

“He’s had a lot of trouble from the get go,” said Ancion on Wednesday.

But his Grade 2 teacher told him about a summer program that may help Tye.

Tye and 59 other Grade 2 students from both Red Deer public and Catholic boards are getting the literacy leg up they need heading into Grade 3.

Reading College, a 21-day summer literacy program held at Red Deer College, has 60 “on the bubble” students who are having difficulties with reading and gives them more learning opportunities.

“He needed it so he got into the activities really fast,” said Ancion. “He loves it, he loves school so he didn’t really care that he was going to summer school or anything.”

Stu Henry, Red Deer Public School Board deputy superintendent, said reading is the foundation for success in school and in life.

He pointed to some academic research saying if some foundational literacy skills aren’t developed by the end of Grade 3 it can affect a student’s potential.

“We really wanted to catch these kids at the end of Grade 2 and make a difference while their literacy skills were still at a struggling level,” said Henry.

“These are students who are not yet at grade level, but are within reaching distance. With some intensive support we think we can get them close to reading level.”

For eight-year-old Jeison Rosario, English isn’t the main language spoken in his household.

His family came to Canada from the Dominican Republic and mainly speak Spanish. His mother, Alejandrina said the program is helping his son’s English literacy.

“I think his reading is better now,’ said Alejandrina, adding it was a struggle for him earlier, but now she thinks he will be better in school.

The program started last year with 30 Red Deer public school students.

“All the kids had raised literacy levels at the end of the month and that gave us great optimism to go forward,” said Henry.

“We doubled the program, 40 from Red Deer Public and we asked Red Deer Catholic to join us as well.”

The Catholic board brought in 20 students, including 10 from St. Patrick’s Community School.

Kathleen Finnigan said those 10 students will be going right back into the classroom in August as St. Patrick’s is a year-round school, without a summer lapse in their literacy skills.

“For children to be immersed in literacy for 21 days, it really reduces that reading gap that research is talking a lot about,” said Finnigan.

“These children from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. are reading, writing and learning about literacy and it is really going to help them when they get back to school.”

Finnigan said principals and teachers spent time looking at which 20 students needed the help the most.

“There are so many children that could use a program as strong as this, we chose 20 that were the most in need,” said Finnigan.

Henry said the public board tracked the students from the first year of Reading College to see how they have progressed.

“We’ve given them a great foundation for a successful Grade 3,” said Henry.

Ancion said when Tye gets home, she gets to hear all about her son’s day at Reading College.

“Just seeing him struggle for three years and he’d come home from school and say ‘I don’t get it, I don’t understand, everybody knows it but me.’ He started hating school and he always loved school, so he was just emotional about it,” said Ancion.

“Now he’s back to loving school and he’s happy.”

Now Tye is excited for Grade 3.


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