Photo by MARY-ANN BARR/Advocate staff Reading College students have some fun with the Oilers and Flames around who is going to win the Stanley Cup. The consensus seemed to be the Oilers.

Red Deer students get a hand with improving literacy skills

They return to school ahead of where they were

A group of Grade 2 students are going to college this summer — all to make way for a successful future.

Reading College, a summer reading program at Red Deer College, is aimed at helping 64 youngsters who are struggling with reading and writing improve their skills before they enter Grade 3.

“Research shows that kids who are not at grade level in Grade 3 are at risk of not completing high school,” Reading College program co-ordinator Elvy Goring said.

The students who attend were selected by their teachers on the basis that they thought the children could make some good progress before heading off to school in the fall. It’s the sixth year of the program, which is funded by the Foundation for Red Deer Public Schools, and has other sponsors including the college and Red Deer Optimists.

An open house was held Thursday for parents and others to see the program in action.

The children generally improve from one to four reading levels. They go back to school in the fall ahead of where they were in June, Goring said.

Students spend time in three different rooms — one for reading (Radical Readers), another for writing (Awesome Authors), and one where they learn to decode words and phonics (Word Wizard).

The goal is to get them as close to grade level as they can so that they are more independent in Grade 3, said Goring.

Motivating projects are done such as blowing bubble gum and then writing out the steps of how to blow bubble gum. They do fun literacy-based activities such as reading instructions first and then going through a rope web or throwing rubber chickens from one parachute to the another.

The children are bused to and from the college and classes run from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Breakfast and lunch is included. There is no cost to the parents.

Paulette Hanna, vice-president Academic at RDC, said Reading College is extremely important because if students are behind their grade level in reading, everything ramps up as they continue on from Grade 3. “If you can’t read, how do you learn.”

The program gives the students confidence “and then they take off from there,” she said.

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