Twenty Year 10 students have just qualified as literacy tutors under a program conducted jointly by Mudgee High School and Mudgee TAFE.
The program aims to give Yr 10 students the skills and techniques to work as literacy tutors with students from year 7 or 8.
Theory sessions held in term 1 looked at the psychology of reading and the importance of understanding the cause of a reading problem before being able to help.
"For many high-achieving school students it comes as a real eye-opener to learn the difficulties some of their peers have," according to program co-ordinator, Sandy Smith of Mudgee TAFE, "yet once they develop their skills they have an easier time gaining the trust and confidence of the younger students than adults do."
For the practical tutoring sessions the tutors were then matched with a younger partner with whom they have been working 4 days a week during the year.
One tutor reported that at first their student struggled with hard words but is now reading quite fluently and confidently.
"One of the hardest things was learning when to say nothing," according to one Year 10 tutor. "It seems so easy just to give them the right answer, but if you learn to wait, and maybe give a hint, they can usually work it out for themselves. Then you can say 'Well done!' which makes us both feel good."
The program is seen to have social benefits as well with students new to high school having a "buddy" in a higher year. The tutors have also developed skills which can be useful in any training or leadership situation.
The Year 10 tutors will receive their TAFE certificates at their final Year 10 assembly.