Fostering Literacy empowers young readers

Jestina struggled with reading, but with the support of her Fostering Literacy tutor, she is now reading out loud, with more confidence.

For the past year, Jestina has attended Cariboo-Chilcotin Partners for Literacy Society’s (CCPL) Fostering Literacy after-school reading program in Williams Lake. Thanks to teen reading tutors, training sessions for parents and caregivers, and other initiatives designed to improve literacy levels in youth, CCPL is fostering a love of reading among elementary school students.

“A big part of the program is the bond that is created, the friendship,” said Suzanne Cochrane, Fostering Literacy Coordinator at CCPL. “The kids look up to their tutors as role models.”

CCPL’s Fostering Literacy program supports life skills

Fostering Literacy programs, supported by Decoda Literacy Solutions, are unique in each of the 23 sites across BC.

At CCPL, elementary students and teen tutors connect twice a week for an hour and a half of fun learning that includes one-on-one reading, games and other activities that develop important life skills like communication and social skills, in addition to supporting academic success.

Each session starts with a snack that incorporates food literacy and kitchen skills. The tutor and student then read to each other and practise reading strategies, like predicting, clarifying, summarizing and thinking aloud. Sessions end with interactive, collaborative games – a few favourites are UNO and Connect4.

“Games are an opportunity to practise social skills, oral conversation, learn about following rules, problem solving, and many have a numeracy component,” said Suzanne.

Teen tutors are motivating role models

Teen tutors help young students to become more motivated and enthusiastic about learning. By providing a safe and supportive environment, the teen tutor can help their student become more engaged in the learning process. Teen tutors also help elementary students to gain insights into what success looks like, which can be incredibly motivating.

Evie, a Grade 10 student, is one of CCPL’s Fostering Literacy tutors working with two reading buddies.

She picks them up from school and they walk to CCPL together. “It’s a good time to just check in and ask about their day. I like to ask what their favourite part of the day was.” 

After only a few months, Evie has seen the impact of her work.

“I notice she responds really well to my help,” said Evie. “She now chooses to use reading strategies and tools on her own, is staying more focused and has gotten a lot better in her reading.”

One teen and one child read together while sitting at a table.
Colby was inspired to pursue a teaching career while working as a Fostering Literacy tutor with Cariboo-Chilcotin Partners for Literacy Society.

Grade 12 student Colby has been a Fostering Literacy tutor for two and half years, and supported four elementary students. He has found tutoring so inspiring and rewarding that he is pursuing a career in teaching.

“I had thought about teaching as a career as I did one year of mentoring and really enjoyed it but wasn’t sure until being involved in this program,” Colby said. “It made me realize that I enjoy working with students and seeing that I can make a positive difference in their life. It was a very rewarding feeling to see a student progress in their reading and to see their self-esteem and confidence increase as a result.”

CCPL also incorporates some learning support to the teens. Every few months, it hosts a mini-presentation on topics like financial literacy, how to read a pay cheque, fill out forms and file an income tax return.

Students increase reading skills and self-esteem

Jestina’s mom, Stephanie, struggled with reading in school herself. She is grateful for CCPL’s Fostering Literacy program that supports Jestina and her brother, Thor.

“The learning support teacher at the school said she’s seen a lot of improvement,” said Stephanie. “It makes me really glad that they are in this program and to see they are improving. Now they are able to read articles, things on TV, street signs and are able to spell. It really helps with self-esteem and reading makes things way easier in life.”

Jestina now has favourite books to keep her reading: the Dog Man series of graphic novels and Hello, Crabby from the Crabby book series. And Jestina has discovered how reading helps her visualize the story in her mind, “When I read them, it’s like watching a movie!”

CCPL also runs workshops for parents and caregivers which provide them with resources they need to help their children become more confident readers. And last Christmas, CCPL sent home games to encourage family literacy.

With the help of teen tutors, Fostering Literacy is helping to make a positive difference and paving the way for a brighter future for generations of learners.

“We’ve created a space in their life that’s very reliable and consistent. Where someone can just be there for them,” said Suzanne. “The ultimate goal is a positive experience. Watching them work together – I think the tutors and learners will both remember this time.”

You can support struggling young readers

Fostering Literacy supports more than 375 children by providing one-to-one sessions with trained tutors in 23 sites across B.C.

Fostering Literacy programs are made possible thanks to   RBC Future Launch, Y.P. Heung Foundation, Al Roadburg Foundation, private foundations and individual donors like you.

Your donation of $50, $100, $250… or more will help pay for play-based activities and books, tutor training, and training for parents to support their child’s reading at home.

By supporting Fostering Literacy, you are making an investment in the future of British Columbia’s youth.

Make your gift to the Decoda Literacy Foundation

About us

Decoda Literacy Solutions is BC’s provincial literacy organization. We support community-based literacy programs and initiatives in over 400 communities across BC by providing resources, training and funds.

Our work supports children and families, youth, adults, Indigenous and immigrant communities to help build strong individuals, strong families and strong communities.

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