Thirty-three students from Years 6 to 12 have offered to particpate in the Smith Family's student2student peer support reading program. Literacy levels are correlated with a positive education experience and future educational and employment opportunities. Research shows there can be, on average, up to a three-year-gap between actual and chronological reading ages in students from lower compared to higher socioeconomic backgrounds. Frequently the gap in reading ages is less to do with intellectual ability than it is to do with lack of opportunity. That is, the gap often results from the young person not having an opportunity to develop skills, confidence and an interest in reading. With the right support, students who find reading a challenge tend to bridge the gap and catch-up to their peers relatively quickly.
Evidence indicates that one of the best ways to support students who have reading difficulties is for the help to come from others near their own age.
The student2student peer support program aims to provide the conditions to help struggling readers develop skills, confidence and interest. A Reader (a student who has difficulty with reading) is matched with a Buddy (a student who reads at or above their chronological age) and they enter into an arrangement to read together two to three times a week, for 20 minutes, for two terms. Buddies receive training and support to work with their Reader to provide skills and encouragement.
I was pleased to see the large number of CHAC students offering to support students from around Queensland. Not only will they learn valuable skills and abilities in reading themselves, but they will also learn the valuable life long lessons of service and equality, as well as developing their emotional intelligence. For the Reader, the benefits are significant, as their increased ability to read and comprehend will positively impact their learning, and consequently their future.
To all those involved, I thank you for supporting such an important program. We wish you well, success and enjoyment as you commence your journey toward making a difference in the life of another boy or girl.
More information on the student2student peer reading program is available here.