Toe By Toe UK – June 2018 Newsletter

Midge Arnott
by Midge Arnott
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Well, summer is upon us in the northern hemisphere, and I imagine a lot of teachers, teacher assistants and – probably most of all! – students are looking forward to the summer break away from the daily school and lessons routine.

However, if you want to help somebody with reading difficulties, the summer is no time to take your foot off the pedal.

To encourage and share experiences with the ‘Silent Army’ of mums, dads, grandparents, siblings, whoever, who give up their time to help others conquer ‘this reading thing’, we send out a monthly newsletter to keep you up to date with all the latest developments regarding Toe By Toe and its use in schools, community centres and homes. Anywhere, in fact, where Keda’s ‘Little Red Book’ is making a difference to lives, young and old, around the world.

We also hope to offer useful advice and assistance to any schools, literacy tutors or parents working with struggling readers. Many of these struggling readers will have been diagnosed as ‘dyslexic’ or given another of the many labels psychologists use to explain why a particular individual is struggling with reading skills.

We maintain that – no matter what the nature of the reading problem may be – Toe By Toe used on a systematic, regular basis – will make a dramatic difference.  However, you are not going to succeed in teaching anyone to read – whether they are 7, 17 or 70 years old – without their active co-operation in the process. Your first task, as a literacy tutor, is to convince your students that literacy is not just for everyone else, but something they too can attain. Overcoming low self-esteem is often our first challenge…

Any good news stories you may have regarding students who have finished Toe By Toe and had their lives changed for the better will be gratefully received and would – with your permission, of course – be included in future newsletters.

Toe By Toe ‘Down Under’ – Our Trip to Australia

No excuses. It’s around 8 weeks now since I (Frank Cowling) returned from a month-long tour to Australia. Jet-lag longgone, pressing matters back in the UK taken care of, it’s finally time to put down some thoughts on the tour.

It’s certainly a beautiful country and it was a fascinating trip but the constanttravelling inevitably took its toll on my aging body. If I never see another airport again, I’ll die a happy man. I couldn’t have done it, of course, without my son Joe’s support and – in particular – his mastery of the smart phone to book flights, accommodation and stop me getting lost.

Joe’s back in London now, but the Aussie trip may have made him contemplate the merits of living in an expensive shoebox in SE London.  Spending time on glorious, sun-kissed beaches, even managing to stand up on a surfboard (however, briefly…), compared to life in wintry London – well, it would concentrate any young man’s mind. But back to the nitty-gritty of our Australian trip. First stop…
Western Australia
Arriving in Perth at middayin a temperature of 35 degrees came as quite a shock after a snow-bound couple of weeks in England.  We presented two well-received workshops at Dyslexia SpeldFoundation in Perth, one for parents and one for teachers.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Rebecca Rourke and other members of staff from the Methodist Ladies College in South Perth. The college is running a highly successful ‘buddy scheme’ using Toe By Toe.  Younger girls with literacy problems at the school were paired with older mentors to help them with their reading and they told me their girls loved to be involved in such a worthy project.  The most wonderful aspect of such buddy schemes, of course, is that benefits flow both ways.

 Toe By Toe Workshop at Bussleton Senior High School, south of Perth on 6th March 2018

The following day I visited the Prison Service Academy in Bentley to speak to Director, Christine Laird and prison education staff.  It goes without saying that illiteracy is a huge problem in prisons throughout the world, so it was good to have the opportunity to demonstrate how Toe By Toe can change lives.

As best-selling author of the Harry Potter books J.K.Rowling once said of a Toe By Toeliteracy program in a UK prison:

“Toe By Toe is one of the most important books I’ve ever signed. Learning to read represents a significant turning point in anyone’s life, and may be the one thing that makes a difference to help people turn their lives around”

As we have done in the UK and in Ireland, we hope to get a prison project established in Australia in the near future. The final day’s training before a spot of R&R in the beautiful Margaret River region was atBussleton Senior High School organized by Assistant Principal, Mandy Carey, with parents and school staff attending. 

We would welcome the thoughts and shared experiences of anyone who we met with, or who participated in any of our workshops whilst in Oz.

But that’s enough for today. Rather than ‘tell all’ in a single newsletter, details of the Toe By Toe tour in South Australia and Victoria will follow in future newsletters.

Until then…

Best wishes from all at Toe By Toe.

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