Alistair and Anna
“A good education to start her life…”
Recent data shows that shows that children in the Queensland suburb of Acacia Ridge are almost twice as likely to start school developmentally vulnerable than the average Australian child. What that actually means for kids growing up in the community, is that by the time they get to school, they are behind most other children in Queensland and Australia, and that they will need a lot of extra support before they have even a chance of catching up. Most never do.
That’s why United Way Australia is working to bring literacy and language skills to children in Acacia Ridge before it’s too late.
Through our Ready to Read program, children aged between 0-5-years old are being provided with much-needed books each month, while parents receive reading tips and other literacy resources. For kids like Anna, it’s the critical support they need to start school ready to learn, as her father Alistair tells us:
“We didn’t read regularly to her and the type of books sometimes weren’t quite as good. But then when we started to get the Imagination Library books, and it’s helped.”
A former higher education teacher himself, Anna’s father wanted her to have “a good education as a basis to start her life.” But it wasn’t until he did some research that he discovered how crucial it was for reading to be part of Anna’s life before she started school. After joining the program, Anna’s parents have noticed a definite improvement in her reading and learning skills, and also in her attitude towards books.
“Since we’ve been receiving the books from the Imagination Library she is much more interested (in them). She asks for the book to be read at night and she reads them herself during the day.”
Her parents are also using United Way’s tip sheets to maximise the learning from every story they read together, developing the skills to help spark Anna’s imagination and creativity, and keep her thinking once the story’s finished.
Alistair is confident that with quality books and regular reading activities, Anna is no longer at risk of starting school behind. But he’d like to see more families be able to take part in the program, seeing it as a means of helping tackle Acacia Ridge’s chronic disadvantage and giving kids in their community a better chance in life.
“I’d really encourage other parents in the region to get involved in the program because the books are free, they get hints about how to read and how to encourage your child to get better at reading. I’d encourage companies to donate and support United Way, (because) we have very high youth unemployment now, and (low) literacy and numeracy are some of the big problems.”