Evan was now in grade one and was at risk of falling even farther behind in the goal of meeting the standard in reading development expected of his age group. He still had not met the standard set for children at the end of Senior Kindergarten. The teacher wanted him to have help but there were many children in the school needing help and the staff had to prioritize the children to determine which ones could have time with the Early Literacy teacher assigned to the school. This teacher didn’t have the time to work with all the children who really needed extra help. Evan did not make the priority list. The teacher was disappointed and looked for other sources of help. She advocated for Evan to be included in the Strong Start: Letters, Sounds and Words program, and so the staff set about to make sure they had enough volunteers to include Evan.

Evan started the program knowing most of the letter names and about half of the sounds in the program, but he could identify only 5 words. He hadn’t yet become a reader. Over the ten weeks of the Strong Start® program, Evan responded well to the one-to-one attention. By the end of the program, he knew the letter names, a sound for each one and could now identify 26 words on the list of 28. Even more impressive was his gain on tests of overall reading level. Amazingly, he was now reading at a level equal to the majority of his peers!

The teacher was delighted. She knew he could do it if only he could have some extra attention with an adult to help him practise. She was grateful that the school had the Strong Start® program as a resource, because the other resources were being used to their maximum and without Strong Start®, Evan wouldn’t have had the extra support right then when he needed that extra boost so that he wouldn’t become a discouraged learner.

Addendum: A year later, Evan, now in grade 2, continues to grow as a reader and is keeping pace with the majority of his peers in skill development.