Volunteers share love of reading
FIVE Coolum High School students are volunteering their time to help younger peers learn the love of reading.
The Student2Student reading program is run by The Smith Family and is aimed at improving the reading and literacy of Sunshine Coast students in Years 3 to 8.
The Smith Family reports the reading gap in primary school between the lowest socio-economic students (SES) and the highest is equivalent to almost three years of schooling.
The organisation's website claims the literacy foundations built by children during their primary and early secondary years are crucial to their ability to do well at school.
"Research identifies a clear link between the development of cognitive skills such as literacy and numeracy at an early age and higher levels of education achievement, greater employability, higher earnings and greater social participation."
Year 12 student Chloe Cherry is one of the five Coolum High School students who happily volunteers half an hour of her own time every Tuesday and Wednesday to listen to a nine-year-old student with reading difficulties.
"I wanted to help young children whose parents may not have time to read with them to develop a love of reading. I think it's important," Chloe said.
"One of my fondest childhood memories is my dad reading to me, I couldn't imagine not to have that."
The Student2Student program works by matching students who need to improve their reading with peer buddies who help and encourage them with their reading.
Each student and buddy receives an identical book pack from The Smith Family. The reading buddy then telephones the student a couple of times a week over an 18-week period.
The student reads to the buddy, who uses the skills learnt in their training, to assist the student with his or her reading and offers encouragement and praise. The buddy keeps a simple record of each phone call and reports progress.
In 2013, a detailed analysis of 742 participants showed 93% of students improved their reading age, 91% agreed their reading had improved since participating in the program, and 83% agreed they read more.
Chloe says she doesn't need statistics to know that the program works.
"It's really good, I really enjoy it," she said.
"My reading partner is getting a lot better at reading every week.
"It feels really good to help someone."