Building a Strong Foundation
February 21, 2023
The Children’s Foundation Free to Grow program has been funding life-skills, including tutoring, since 2018. During the pandemic, in response to the growing educational crisis of children lagging in school, the Children’s Foundation teamed up with Sylvan Learning of Guelph and the Guelph Giving Pledge to launch a new Tutoring Pilot Project to provide access to in-depth educational support for children and youth who might not otherwise be able to afford it. Specifically, this tutoring pilot project focuses on building a strong foundation in reading, with a goal to read proficiently at grade level.
Without a strong foundation in reading, children are left behind at the beginning of their education. They lag in every class, year after year because more than 85 percent of the curriculum is taught by reading. And by the end of third grade, 74 percent of struggling readers won’t ever catch up. In fact, one of the most important predictors of graduating from high school is reading proficiently by the end of third grade.
In addition to helping kids ‘catch up’ to achieve the educational milestones that are the stepping stones to higher learning, cultivating a love for reading is equally vital to instill a life-long love of learning. Too many children label themselves as a “bad reader”, placing a negative value on their abilities and fostering a dislike for reading. Regardless of when and how they reach the milestone of reading proficiency, the only thing that makes a child a ‘good reader’ is a keen interest and love for it.
The first few students who have gone through the tutoring pilot project have successfully completed their learning plan, mastering skills that have elevated their reading levels by three or more grades bringing them on par with their peers.
Here are some comments from the kiddos who have received tutoring support:
- I went up four reading levels at school already. My teacher lets me get harder books now and they are more interesting than the easy ones.
- I don't need to use my computer at school to read to me anymore and I prefer to write on paper instead of using speech to text. My teacher used to make me use the computer but now she says it is okay not to.
- My teacher said they have noticed a big difference even with my math now that reading is getting easier
And from the parents:
- I ugly cried when I found out we were receiving this opportunity. I am really happy but I just feel so bad for all of the other kids at the school who can't get the extra help.
- I’ve noticed a big difference in confidence even with things that have nothing to do with school.
- My child requested to go to Chapters to get a book for the FIRST TIME EVER. We have planned a surprise outing for this weekend to go and pick some out. Our family is making it a big celebration!