SuperKids’ one-on-one attention boosting literacy and student confidence

Children from the Exchange All Age
School forms a heart during their art class by the SupeKids volunteers.

Students in St Mary and St. Ann who once struggled with reading are seeing a boost in their literacy levels following one-on-one pull-out sessions from the international programme SuperKids.

The SuperKids project which ended recently, was executed by the United States non-profit organisation, GreatShape! Inc. The literacy programme is supported by the Sandals Foundation and the Ministry of Education. It was implemented at the Boscobel Primary, Ocho Rios Primary, Exchange All Age and Priory Primary schools.

Georgene Crowe, SuperKids co-director and co-founder of Great Shape! Inc, said this year’s pull-out approach was a pilot for the group. “This year, we really focused on providing extra attention to children just on the edge of falling behind. The students really responded to the lively, holistic lesson plans,” Crowe said.

SuperKids Literacy Volunteer Adiana Wilmot explains the parts of the human body to Exchange All Age’s Leroy Nelson during the group’s recent visit to the school.

Crowe said most of the children “made significant gains in their abilities to read more fluently, comprehend content, decode words and increase their writing skills”. The programme saw 45 students from each school being referred to one-on-one literacy screenings to assess their specific needs. Students were then placed in smaller groups of three and received personalised remedial help for two weeks. Instructions were provided by a team of 15 volunteer teachers and assistants.

Carol Deach, teacher at Priory Primary, said, “The most significant gains were made in reading fluency and comprehension. You could see measurable change in most of the children.”

In addition to the boost in literacy, Teacher Volunteer, Pat Scheider said the programme has also improved the confidence of students. “Low self-esteem is often one of the major problems in controlling behaviour in children. The ‘one-on-one’ attention helped the children to focus, pay better attention to instructions and generally settle into the learning environment more rapidly.”

Students of the Boscobel Primary School pose with their Art Work assisted by the SuperKids volunteers during the groups visit to
the school recently. Sitting (l-r) Santina Ximmines, Cristal Armsby, Taairah Levy, Kewayne
Gordon.  Standing – (l-r) Ava Case, Santina James, Annabelle Morgan, Javaungh Lewis, Romar Robinson, Nickoy
Brown and Tyrone Kelvin. Standing in the back is teacher Carlene Levy-Thompson.

A total of 45 volunteers served the four schools in the areas of language arts, information technology, sports, art and music. The SuperKids project has been operating in Jamaica since 2008. Schools are chosen in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Great Shape! Inc. and the Sandals Foundation and are based on testing results and the needs of the students.