Education

Boosting skills by reading

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June 16, 2017

Lighthouse Project volunteer Fiona Smolenaars shows kindergarteners Ali Al Nasrawi and Ali Al Hayak the importance of reading.

A bundle of books has cascaded through the doors of one Shepparton kindergarten in an effort to build literacy standards and improve the vocabulary of young children.

Using money donated from the Tatura 200 charity bike ride, Shepparton’s Lighthouse Project has gifted a wide variety of children’s books and accompanying audio CDs to the Leslie Gribble kindergarten.

The Shepparton foundation was given $10000 to allocate to schools across the region to benefit students, as well as the foundation’s volunteers who visit institutions on a regular basis.

Lighthouse Project volunteer program co-ordinator Fiona Smolenaars said there had been an emerging trend in the number of children who were not vocabulary or literacy ready by the time they entered primary school.

Many volunteers from the foundation volunteer their time to tackle this issue by taking part in conversation and literacy activities with children in schools across Shepparton.

‘‘We’ve got a huge population of vulnerable families, as well as a high immigrant population, so English either may not be a first language, or reading isn’t held to a high importance in some homes,’’ Ms Smolenaars said.

‘‘We’re also finding that families who have both parents working don’t actually spend the time to sit and read with their kids of a night time.

‘‘It’s really becoming evident as the years go on that they’re not reading, and that is showing in their vocabulary and literacy skills.’’

Popular Australian children’s author Mem Fox has been outspoken about the issue, stating publicly that children should read three books daily to meet primary school education requirements.

Leslie Gribble kindergarten service leader Ellie Beadle said the kindergarten had a high number of children for whom English was their second language, and the educators aimed to read up to three books to the children each day.

Ms Beadle said the Lighthouse Project’s contribution was an invaluable donation that was already making a difference within the kinder.

‘‘It’s a massive contribution and I think it’s probably created more awareness for us too, and also for our families, because the children are going home and talking about it,’’ she said.

We’ve had children who haven’t been speaking English, who are now talking, and they’re having a really good go at different words and starting to have conversations with us, so it’s already made a difference.’’

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