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Plans for early literacy club aimed at preschoolers

An early literacy storytelling club aimed at preschoolers is in the works.

Diamond Outerbridge, the Bermuda Education Network’s Teacher of the Year 2020. Ms Outerbridge has teamed up with BEN to launch an early literacy initiative. (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Teacher advocacy group the Bermuda Education Network teamed up with its Teacher of the Year Diamond Outerbridge for the BEN Book Club which promotes the benefits of reading to toddlers.

BEN, which was founded by Becky Ausenda and provides educational programmes for schools, held a small pilot event for parents and their children in October at The Griot book store on Parliament Street, Hamilton.

Another is scheduled for November at the same location and it is hoped that the sessions will be held monthly from January.

Ms Outerbridge, who teaches Functional Academics English at the Berkeley Institute, told The Royal Gazette: “This is part of a passion project which is close to my heart and BEN gave me the tools explore it. We talked about how a lot of reading intervention programmes hit the kids at P3 and P4 levels when they have already developed difficulties.

“I said we are missing intervention for preschoolers, which is an age when reading can be a fun, interactive activity.”

During the pilot session, Ed Christopher, the Town Crier for the City of Hamilton, read stories to the children and Ms Outerbridge coached parents on strategies for reading with toddlers.

There was also accompanying music by guitarist Dino Richol. Parents were encouraged to participate in reading to the children and were given gift certificates and books to take home.

“This programme is aimed at providing culturally relevant books that are age appropriate,” Ms Outerbridge explained.

“The first book, Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall, was read in an interactive style and I shared toddler strategies – props were used, we brought the student into story, the storyteller’s voice changed throughout the book and we asked questions. The kids were glued to it.

“We asked the parents questions like what was their favourite book and whether they found it difficult to read to a toddler. I pointed out some of the tricks that the storyteller uses to keep them engaged.”

BEN is working on creating videos that provide easy tips and inspiration to parents about reading with toddlers.

“The ultimate aim is to increase the love of reading,” Ms Outerbridge said.

“Children who love to read, love to learn. There are many studies that show children who are read to often make more money and end up more confident in their lives.

“They are more intelligent, more popular among their peers and more empathetic. Reading is also a healthy way to manage stress and the parents benefit from it as well.

“Reading doesn’t have to be laborious and academic, it can be a warm, cosy, bonding experience.”

There is limited space available for the next pilot session which takes place on November 22 from 1.30pm to 3pm at The Griot book store at 32 Parliament Street, Hamilton. It is on a first come, first served basis. Bookings can be made via e-mail at teacherouterbridge@gmail.com

To find out more about BEN visit http://www.bermudaeducationnetwork.com/

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Published November 17, 2020 at 8:10 am (Updated November 16, 2020 at 3:15 pm)

Plans for early literacy club aimed at preschoolers

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