Rotary delivers an Australian classic to 2,000 Prep students
TWO thousand pre-school reading books will be distributed throughout the Capricornia region to improve its children's development which is "significantly lower" than the Queensland average, according to government data.
Brittany Lauga, Assistant Minister of Education, launched the Rotary Club's 2000 Books program at Frenchville School last Thursday December 6.
From Marmor north to St Lawrence and west to Jambin, 2,000 Prep school students will receive a book to encourage their reading.
The project began at Frenchville State School four years ago and grew quickly due to locals Rotarians' generosity.
The Rotary Club has invested in literacy around the region and around the world for more than 70 years.
Frenchville principal Leisa Neaton said that Rachel Sampson, senior teacher and Rotary South's current president, convinced the other eight clubs to join in.
"At Frenchville we have recognised the value of peer learning in establishing interest and pleasure in reading," Ms Sampson said.
"We get our older children to read to the younger grades and then the younger children begin reading to the older students."
Australiana is the stand-out trend among this year's books with titles such as A Feast for Wombat, Blossom Possum and Bushland Lullaby on offer.
According to 2015 Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) data, the percentage of children deemed 'vulnerable' in Rockhampton exceed the state and national averages.
A sample of 932 children concluded local children score three per cent lower for communication, language and physical skills than their state counterparts.
In turn, Queensland scores two per cent than the national average.
CQUniversity's Head of Course, Master of Professional Psychology, Doreen Canoy is quick to reassure Rockhampton parents it's not all bad news.
Ms Canoy is a clinical psychologist whose regional work assures her "there are many wonderful parents out there doing the best they can to raise their children."
"And for those struggling we want them to know it is okay to seek support - from friends, family, or professionals," she said.
Ms Canoy emphasises that vulnerability is not equally shared and does not necessarily indicate a personal deficit in one region over another.
'Rockhampton continues to be home for many culturally diverse families and this is a strength to our community, however measures used to assess language/cognitive and communication skills may not tell the complete story," she said.
"What it does indicate is the importance in the Rockhampton region supporting its youth."
Ms Canoy says the research shows children develop different literacy skills from old-fashioned reading than they do off of digital screens.
"Disconnect from electronic devices (not just the children, parents too), bring back family time, read from a book you hold in your hand, and run around the back yard," she said.
"If we do these things a little more, I believe our children will perform better in the classroom... and we might just perform better at work as well."
School Principal, Leisa Neaton, said that sharing quality literature with young students has the capacity to enhance a love of books and reading.
"It also builds vocabulary and oral language, a key building block of reading development.
"Rotary stands with parents and educators to support the development of literate students in today's classrooms and homes" she said.