This month James Pettypiece headed back to school with thousands of other students in the Vancouver School District. James was heading into Grade 2. It was a big year and in the first month of classes, the students would be hitting the books hard. While James had initially found reading intimidating, a month long program this summer had instilled new confidence into him.
"Reading is a critical skill for anyone to develop, it's the gateway to a great education," says Samantha Pettypiece, "James' mum". "Some kids just need a little extra time to shine."
Rec and Reading is a relatively new program for the Vancouver School Board. Started in Vancouver in 2006, the program has already gotten rave reviews from many parents. Designed as an early intervention literacy program, Rec and Reading balances literary instruction with recreational activities. Activities range from the manufacturing of hilarious hats, visits to libraries and water sports days.
While the day's activities were a highlight, Pettypiece says they weren't the only thing James looked forward to.
"He really liked his teachers and I believe the program generally helped him feel good about reading," she says. "In fact he had so much fun, I don't think he even really minded doing the homework."
For James Rec and Reading was a great place to hone his reading skills. Each day was marked by a morning of writing activities as well as small group and individual instruction in guided reading and an afternoon of activities that reinforced the earlier learning. Running through the lion's share of July, the Rec and Reading program instilled a new confidence that Pettypiece says she sees each day when her son tackles a book or the text in a computer game.
Confidence isn't the only thing the program brings to the table. For many students, the program is also lauded for improved reading performance. On average, students improve by at least two reading levels using the DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment kit). Anecdotal feedback is equally as powerful. Check with your school for more information on Rec and Reading Programs in your neighbourhood