Rushworth cluster of schools has developed an early years literacy program to promote the importance of reading within their local community focusing on young children before they reach school.
Supported by our early years teachers from the cluster schools (two government primary school, local pre school, catholic primary school and the P-12 college), the program focuses on (0 to 4 year olds) promoting and supporting the importance of reading, talking, listening, singing and playing in the early years of a child’s educational and personal development.
To develop the program we travelled to Parkes in NSW to see how their “Birth to Kinder” program, operated. We also investigated the “Smart Start” program from Western Australia and the “Lets Read” initiative.
Following these investigations, we further developed the program by forging strong links with other key community groups, including other district pre schools, Maternal and Child Health Services, Campaspe Shire, local businesses, health services, service clubs and interested community members.
Our program comprises a number of aspects including:
– provision of speakers and information sessions for parents and children
– posters and booklets located in local businesses, shire facilities and other community centres promoting the value of early reading
– the provision of a gift pack of literacy information for all new mums – pack includes a story book, information booklet for parents and a “welcome to your baby” card.
– placing a basket of recycled and new books in each local business where children may be present
– information sessions for local businesses and community organisations promoting the program and encouraging them to support it.
– a whole community, cluster Reading Day in Rushworth involving all students and children
– the development of strong partnerships between the various services that support early years services.
A highlight of our program is the Reading Day. This day involves all students from the cluster schools, the early years services/organisations within the area and the wider community in a “dress up” parade in the main street of Rushworth; involvement in a range of literacy activities where authors talk about their books; reading buddy activities and the like. The whole community get involved in this exciting celebration of literacy.
The inaugural community Reading Day was launched by the then Premier, Mr Steve Bracks.
We have find that this program has built strong links between the cluster and the wider community, raised the awareness within the community as to the importance of reading, and the young people arrive at our schools passionate about reading.