Ready Set Learn: Nurturing children’s resiliency and relationships through reading
“If you plant an orchard, you might never eat the fruit. But someone will.”
Planting those seeds to nurture children’s growth and success in life is an approach the PEI Literacy Alliance applies to its ‘Ready Set Learn’ program, says Amanda Beazley, Programs Director.
Ready Set Learn provides tutoring support to children who struggle with reading, writing, and math. The program is delivered over the summer months, when students are most at risk of losing some of the skills they learned during the school year.
But that’s not all the program offers.
Social and emotional literacy play a role, too, Beazley says of the program, which offered tutoring to 620 children across PEI last summer and marked its 22nd year of delivery.
“Over the years, we started to see a pattern of lack of confidence. And when there’s a lack of confidence, we as humans are not as likely to take risks – and that includes learning risks.”
That lack of confidence can bring anxiety for many children, says Beazley, as well as a lack of optimism about their learning abilities.
“And we need to have optimism to engage in learning. Kids need a safe space to be able to make mistakes.
“Making and learning from mistakes is a springboard for growth – that’s where resiliency begins.”
Building confidence and resiliency is part of a child’s overall well-being, Beazley says.
So, when she learned about funding grants available through the PEI Alliance for Mental Well-Being, she saw an opportunity to formalize the social and emotional learning component in the Ready Set Learn program.
It was an opportunity she knew her organization had to take.
“When we’re talking about investing in mental health and the well-being of the community, we’re talking about sustainability. We’re talking about the longevity of our communities. And when it comes kids’ literacy, it’s an investment that needs to be made.”
The PEI Alliance for Mental Well-Being is a government-supported organization that works to strengthen and support initiatives that build individual, family, and community resilience.
Through its grant program, the Alliance provided funding to the PEI Literacy Alliance for its Ready Set Learn program to support its long-term goal of helping children grow into curious, courageous, and confident adults.
Beazley says fostering these qualities in children is essential to raising resilient adults.
“If they have the encouragement, if they have the hope that they can learn, they’re going to go so much further in life.”
She says she’s already seen the positive effects of the formalized programming, after receiving feedback from some participants.
“My favourite thing I’ve seen so far is kids saying ‘I’m smart. I have a good heart. I’m better at reading than I thought I was.’”
With another two years of their three-year funding grant still ahead of them, Beazley says she’s excited to keep the program growing.
“Because it’s working. What we’re doing is working.”
It’s like planting a garden and watching it grow, she says.
“If you raise stronger, more resilient children by working on community programming like this, then you're going to have a whole lot more adults who have the tools to help other people down the line.”