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Early support gave Kellyanne’s children a great start to school

When Kellyanne’s husband had to stop working due to disability, everything turned upside down. The couple were juggling three young children, one of whom had autism. With so many challenges at home, the children were at risk of starting school already at a disadvantage.

While Kellyanne understood the importance of reading to her children, she struggled to find the time and didn’t have money to buy books. So before Kellyanne’s youngest children started school, we connected them to our Let’s Read program, which you help to make possible. It gives parents tips about reading to their children and free books to enjoy together.

“I remember when my daughter, Nevaeh, got the book ‘Dear Zoo’. I think we read it 10 times a day for at least a couple of months. She was 12 or 18 months old at that time,” said Kellyanne.

Now Nevaeh is six years old and excels at reading.

“Recently I had the Performance Indicators in Primary Schools assessment come back for Nevaeh. She was in the top 96th percentile in Australia for her literacy. She's reading big books!” said Kellyanne.

Neveah Jacob Sebastian

When Kellyanne was able to return to work, she jumped at the chance to train as a Let’s Read facilitator. And she loves seeing how it benefits the whole family.

“I tell families about the early reading tips sheets, DVDs, free books and other resources available at the local library. They can put the DVDs on and the kids can read along with the TV, or even just watch them and still be exposed to literature,” said Kellyanne.

“In communities with low literacy, the program helps the whole family. When I was a child, my dad learned to read when my mum was teaching me. I think that happens in this community as well.”

Kellyanne’s eldest child, Jacob, was in kindergarten when he was diagnosed with autism. He was able to go to a mainstream school but needed extra learning support. Reading to an older student buddy through another of our literacy programs, student2student, did wonders for Jacob’s confidence.

“The problem Jacob was having was more to do with comprehension and confidence. He has caught up since doing student2student twice,” said Kellyanne.

“Because Jacob is autistic, he lacks social skills. Reading to another student helped him a lot. He really looked forward to the phone call. It was something special for him.

“I don't know how to thank The Smith Family’s supporters. It's hard to put into words, but they've helped our family a lot!”

Read more student and family stories in our Spring 2019 edition of Real People, Real Stories.

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