Booking some time with dad

Gulgong Public School principal Alan Walker enjoying a book with new Kindergarten students Oliver Hollow and Lachlan Thompson.Dads are making a difference to literacy outcomes at Gulgong Public School by taking time out to read to their young children.

Encouraging fathers and other male role models to become actively involved in their child's education is the aim of the Mudgee Dads Take Home Reading Project.

Gulgong Public School principal and project manager Alan Walker said the four-year project, targeted Kindergarten students in 2009, Year 1 students in 2010 and this year targeted Year 2 students.

In 2012 it will finish with Year 3, revisiting the original Kindergarten students.

"Our Take Home Reading Project has become extremely popular among students, fathers and teachers alike," Mr Walker said. "Keeping students interested in reading plays a huge role in their educational development."

He said there were two key factors that helped engage the child with learning: The time with their father, and the new materials and books that were provided.

"Studies have shown the difference dads can make," Mr Walker said.

"Motivation is a key driving force behind the project, and the experience of reading with their dad is rewarding to both the child and the parent."

He said Xstrata Coal donated $75,000 each year to buy new materials for the 19 primary schools within the Cudgegong Learning Community (CLC). Each year, 7,500 new books became available to primary school students and their fathers in the CLC.

Reports from schools within the learning community showed reading levels were improving across the board.

For example, last year every K-2 student at Hargraves Primary School achieved above the regional benchmark, and Cudgegong Valley Primary School kindergarten reading results improved 20 per cent.

A number of schools also reported an increase in parental volunteers.

"Several schools conducted special days promoting the value of men reading at home with their children, as well as promoting this at the CLC Mudgee Small Farm Field Days," Mr Walker said.

Photo: Gulgong Public School principal Alan Walker enjoying a book with two new kindergarten students. Photo by Year 6 student Georgia Reddish.

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