Posted on June 18, 2009 by Tia Lalani

Community partnership will pilot Reading University in Camrose, a program to help young readers.

“Mommy, guess what!
I’m going to university!”

By Diane Hutchinson, Communications
Battle River School Division

Everyone wants children to have success.

These days, success is pretty difficult without knowing how to read. That’s why there’s Reading University.

This special summer program is designed to help young readers get the basics they need in order to succeed at school and beyond.

Reading University was first offered in the state of Indiana, under a different name. This year it’s being piloted right here in Camrose, through a partnership between the Battle River School Division, the Battle River Community Foundation, the University of Alberta – Augustana Campus, the Camrose Adult Learning Council and the Adult Read and Write Program.

Research says that students spend their first three years at school learning how to read. Then they spend the next nine years using their reading skills to learn everything else. If a child doesn’t get a good grasp on those basic reading skills by the end of the third grade, they are likely to get further behind and find it more difficult to succeed in learning and in life.

Reading University is open by special invitation to children in grades 2 and 3 in Battle River School Division who need a bit of extra time and support. The four-week summer program will help young learners increase their reading, writing and comprehension skills, in preparation for all the years of learning they have ahead of them.

Just because the focus of the program is on literacy, doesn’t mean the participants won’t have fun. Each week of Reading University will have a different theme – mysteries and adventure, drama and story telling, history and action could all be part of their experience. And the days won’t be spent just sitting quietly with a book, either. Literacy can mean reading maps and road signs, figuring out the clues on a treasure hunt, understanding the signs at the zoo, drawing a picture, learning a skit, visiting a museum and much, much, more. There might be so much fun the children won’t even realize how much they’re learning!

At the recent registration night for this event, a few eight year olds had their eyes light up at the idea of being picked up by a school bus; others said they had never been to a zoo.

Not only that, Reading University will be held at Augustana, where the 37 participants will get to have lunch in the cafeteria every day. They might even read a recipe and bake cookies in the big ovens. They’ll definitely receive “I’m in University” t-shirts, student ID tags and backpacks.

Reading University is a true example of community partnership. The School Division is developing the program and overseeing the staff for Reading University; while the Battle River Community Foundation is seeking community sponsorships to help with the costs. The Camrose Adult Learning Council is ensuring each student’s backpack has books in it; and the Adult Read and Write Program is providing resource materials and training for volunteers.

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