Sonali Shah, a graduate student at Temple, is part of a new and innovative program that’s helping children improve how they read and write.
The Kids Write and Create Program is directed toward students in elementary school, who struggle to read, write, or have difficulty with the comprehension or literacy in general.
“The program matches literacy mentors with young students and provides individualized attention to children to scaffold reading and writing skills,” said Shah.
“Literacy mentors help their buddies compose, draft, revise, publish, and read their own books about a topic that interests them. The kids’ sentences are dictated, and the mentors use that opportunity to foster written language skills,” Sonali said.
Before children take the program, they take a test of Early Reading Ability to see where they stand in comparison to where their projected literacy score should be.
After the program has been completed, the children are tested again. The increase in their test scores is usually measurably better.
The premise of the program is for children to be given a topic, and then have free rein to create their own book equipped with pictures, their own ideas, and anything they desire to include in their work, all with the help of Temple student mentors.
“It provides creative freedom to these kids, while also teaching them about the different parts of a book, how a narrative is structured, and what it takes to create a cohesive story,” Sonali said.
Not every literacy program is run this way.
Kids Write and Create is much more creative and is developed to help the children involved.
“I would absolutely recommend that more programs like this be developed. Not only was it a great learning experience for me, and my student, but it was a bonding experience, and I learned so much about him,” said Shah.
“I think it would be a great after-school activity with kids who may need a little extra help with reading, and it’s rewarding because at the end of it all, they come away from the program that has created something really special.”
One local elementary school also has a literacy program but is run differently. That program is an in-school class, where the students are pulled from their normal class and pushed toward improving.
The Temple program, of course, is an after-school event with no interference with the children’s everyday school classes.
“I think the program is an excellent way to promote literacy in younger populations,” Shah said of Kids Write and Create.