What exactly is Leap into Literacy: Reading, Writing, and Creativity?
It’s fun creative reading and writing classes for kids, to be used as an extension to what they learn in school. Our tutoring workshops focus on literacy, covering a different book or topic each week. For example, in a Year 2/3 class we might be doing something like Charlie & Chocolate Factory and incorporating the five senses into our writing. We explore just the first chapter of a book together – that way if students are interested in the book, they can continue reading it at home. Our qualified teachers help guide students to link what is happening in the book to different types of reading comprehension skills, as we read it or listen to it together. Games and other interactive activities take place during the lesson to help reinforce these literacy skills. Students then use creative techniques to produce their own writing that focuses on the topic for that week. These processes foster kids’ independent learning for confidence and future success.
How do you teach writing and what does the course look like?
I write the curriculum myself as I was previously a primary and English teacher for 15 years and also taught creative writing for adults, and my PhD dissertation focused on techniques to increase reading comprehension in students, so I have combined all of these literacy skills with the NSW curriculum standards into one fun class! It is a combination of small group activities during the first half and individual writing the second (younger students in Years 1-2 do writing throughout in smaller intervals).
We are able to keep students motivated through games, interactive activities, group discussions, technology, etc. Each week we look at a different novel/book and topic and explore this together. For example, we may be looking at The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and discussing how to paint a picture in your reader’s head using descriptive details. We will read the first couple of pages together or listen on audio book, stopping to point out examples as we go. Then we will do a few activities related to the topic, before beginning our planning process together and finally the writing. Students will have 30-45 minutes to write individually with feedback from the teacher as she circles around and also writes suggestions in green pen in their notebooks so that you can see it at home. You will also receive the lesson plans each week for your own reference and ability to revisit later if needed. Each week we will focus on something different, such as character development, paragraph transitions, how to plan your story, persuasive and narrative text, using dialogue, etc. as well as a daily focus on spelling, grammar, handwriting, and any other individual areas that need help.
What is the class size?
The classes are no more than six students, at times seven if we have a trial class or makeup student.
What are the fees?
Classes cost $36 an hour plus GST, so for the 90 minute lesson it works out at $54. I also offer a 10% discount for the first sibling and 15% for the second.
Who teaches the classes? (qualified teachers, university students, etc)?
I am very selective about the teachers as that to me is a very important part. All of our teachers are highly qualified and have at least two years of experience teaching primary students, and many have either their Masters Degree or PhD. Most importantly, the teachers I choose have a great rapport with the students and are able to deliver the lessons in a fun and engaging manner that it is designed for, while also maintaining the flow of the lesson and classroom management.
I would like my child to try the classes first. Do you offer a free trial class?
We certainly do! We firmly believe that a student needs to enjoy these classes in order to gain the most from the sessions. Once they are given the opportunity to experience the creative writing courses and explore different books, we like to put the decision on them as to whether to continue or not. This way, they are truly active participants in their literacy learning experience. If the children have chosen to be there they are more likely to be engaged in the learning process, aiding retention and increasing their chances of success in English at school and beyond.
Are these classes for students who are struggling with reading and writing, or for students who already enjoy and excel in these areas?
Our classes are designed to cater for students of all levels. If children are struggling with literacy skills they will gain support and confidence from the fun workshops. If kids need to be challenged and extended these classes are perfect for that as well.
How do you cater for students of different levels? Are students of different levels grouped together?
All our qualified teachers are trained in differentiation and the curriculum is written in a way that allows for this. As the classes are small with only six students, students are able to work at a level that they are comfortable with. While the overall content (topic, book, activity, etc) is the same for the class, students are challenged to their individual level with modifications made in the lesson plans and one-on-one feedback given in class.
Teachers also know the capabilities of each student and will set different requirements based on their abilities. For example, if a student is gifted and needs challenging, and the class is working on character development of one character, they may be asked to develop two different characters and have their personalities come through using dialogue through a conversation between the two.
Each workshop will have a range of abilities but are grouped so that they will have at least one other student working at their level. They can then work together as needed to assist or challenge each other. The writing portion is also individual in each lesson to gain one-on-one feedback from the teacher, which will be catered for ability levels.
Do you conduct an assessment before placing my child in a class and if so, is it free or does it come at a cost?
We do provide a free assessment but it is not a worksheet based assessment. Our assessment is done during the free trial class and we observe how a student interacts with the class, their reading comprehension skills, how they participate, and their writing skills. We then provide this feedback to the parent verbally after the lesson and discuss any areas we think may be improved in the class, and if the classes will be beneficial. Teachers are happy to look at any reports or work before the lesson as well and will focus on any areas of concern if the parents discuss this prior to the class.
Do you provide reports?
We do not provide written reports as I believe it is very difficult to assess a student’s full ability through a written report. Instead, we provide ongoing verbal feedback on his or her progress each week and written feedback on their writing with suggestions on how to improve. Any issues with not seeing an improvement in literacy skills after a term, such as grammar, spelling, handwriting, etc., will also be provided to parents. The teachers know what areas to keep an eye out for and the normal progression levels that are usually seen over the course of time, so work closely with the parent to help out in any way possible. Our goal is to avoid the individual worksheet approach and instead provide an interactive experience for the child with as much support as we can to ensure their lifelong success with literacy.
When do classes begin and end? Can my child join at any time?
Leap into Literacy runs on the school calendar for NSW and each term is based upon this calendar. If there is a spot available, your child can join at any time and the classes will be prorated for the remainder of the term.
What if my child joins midway through the term? Will they have missed out on previous material?
The classes are written in a way so that the literacy material is based upon a spiral curriculum. This means that students will see similar literacy topics throughout the term and the year, which will help to reinforce the teaching from previous lessons, and enhance skill retention. So although we cover a different topic each week, the language and techniques will be highlighted again throughout the year. A brief summary of new topics will also be given for reinforcement from previous tutoring classes, or for new students so that they are familiar with the workshop material.
If my child is sick or away, will the class be refunded or can they do a make-up session?
If a student misses a lesson the cost for the missed lesson will not be refunded. If an alternate class is available on a different day during the same week as the missed lesson, the student may attend if there is a spot available.
What time do the classes begin and end during the week? Are there Saturday classes available?
Tutoring classes Monday through Friday in Drummoyne begin at 3:45pm and run until 5:15pm, and run from 3:30pm until 5:00pm in Balmain. Saturday classes are available at 10am, 12pm and 2pm at our Drummoyne centre, and at 12pm and 2pm in our Chatswood location.
For what ages are these reading and writing classes suitable?
Our classes are catered for students in Years K-6 with composite classes grouped (i.e. Year 2/3, Year 5/6, etc) but each student is able to work at his or her own level because the classes are small and individual writing components are done with one-on-one teacher support.
What activities, topics and books are covered in each lesson? Do you follow NSW curriculum?
This will vary depending on age groups. A kindergarten class or Year 1 class may be working on synthetic phonics and basic sentence structure, whereas some topics we focus on for Years 2-6 are: persuasive and narrative writing, introductions and conclusions, using your senses to help add description, character development, and organising/planning your story. These are just a few, though! Our literacy classes follow the NSW curriculum for each grade but have been written specifically by our founder, Allison Greenland, whose PhD is in Curriculum and Teaching.
My son or daughter has a low attention span. Will he or she be able to focus for the 90 minute session?
These classes are absolutely catered for students who may have difficulty with focus levels in the traditional classroom. The workshops are designed for learning and fun! Classes are creative and involve games, audio and visual clips, technology, and other activities to keep students motivated so that they are retaining information for life-long skills. Activities are done in 15-20 minute intervals so that kids’ attention spans are at their highest levels possible during each activity.
Our lessons cater for both auditory and visual-spatial learners that enjoy that level of engagement during the classes. Rather than working on their own, the students work with a fun group dynamic focused on creative expression. Our program is designed to incite interest and passion for reading and writing, to motivate students to retain learned skills for future success.
Is there any homework? How are you different to other reading and writing classes?
No, Leap into Literacy does not require any homework. If the student would like to continue their writing at home, we are more than happy to look at it the following week for assistance and feedback but this is not a requirement. We are different to other tutoring centres in the way that we do not run a worksheet-based program, but rather believe that children learn best when they are engaged and motivated by their own creative thinking. Our classes really try to instil a lifelong love of literacy through “Reading, Writing, and Creativity!”
What areas of Sydney do you service?
Our centres are located in Drummoyne and Balmain which service many areas in the Inner West and inner-city area, including: Drummoyne, Five Dock, Russell Lea, Leichhardt, Haberfield, Abbotsford, Chiswick, Concord, Croydon, Burwood, Gladesville, Hunters Hill, Glebe, and other locations. We have students coming from all areas of Sydney for our Saturday classes. Our Balmain location is perfect for students in Birchgrove, Rozelle, and inner-city areas. Our Chatswood location helps to service the North Shore and North Sydney areas, such as: Chatswood, Lane Cove, Artarmon, Lindfield, Forestville, and other locations.