“To learn to read is to light a fire​; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark,” according to celebrated French romantic author, Victor Hugo.

With this idea in mind Our Lady of Fatima Primary School Kingsgrove has buddied up its Kindergarten students with students in Year 6 students, who are reading with the littlies to help improve their literacy.

The REDS program, as it is known, is the brainchild of school assistant principal, Margrita Cutrupi.

Short for ‘Read Every Day for Success’, the three-year-old REDS program supports early readers to build essential fluency skills and, in turn, the Year 6ers develop leadership skills and give back in the true spirit of the school motto: Serviam.

“Research shows that learning to read is one of the most important factors in school success,” school principal, Anthony Weir, said.

“Fluency is a critical skill for a young reader,” he further explained. “[It is] evidence that he/she is comfortable ‘decoding’ the words on the page, to read automatically and aloud with expression. Fluency is the bridge between decoding words and understanding what h

Books and a mug

Photo: Annie Spratt on Unsplash

as been read.”

As part of the program, Year 6 students complete an expression of interest survey stating why they would make a great REDS mentor. Those chosen attend a workshop where they are taught tips on how to encourage and support their buddies.

Students are also taught to use the ‘pause, prompt, praise’ strategy, which encourages the kindy students to monitor meaning and to self-correct.
This strategy can be used any time a student is reading aloud.

“Each morning, 10 minutes after assembly, our Kindergarten students get to practise their fluency and expression by reading their home readers or class readers to one of the Year 6 REDS volunteers,” Mr Weir said.

Mr Weir said the REDS program has been overwhelmingly well received. “Students have enjoyed and greatly benefited from their special time with their buddies, developing essential skills and confidence as early readers,” he said.

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