Early Learner Tutor Program - Saskatoon Public Schools Foundation
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Early Learner Tutor Program

A child’s success in school and throughout life depends in large part on the ability to read.

Teachers point to children’s ability to read by the end of Grade 3 as a key milestone in their education. Past Grade 3, the curriculum shifts from “learning to read” to “reading to learn”, and the ability to read is essential to succeed in all subjects. In fact, reading grade level by the end of Grade 3 is so important that research shows students who struggle to keep pace past Grade 3 rarely catch up (Calgary Reads).

The science of teaching reading is sometimes complex. For some children, the letters on the page easily form words and sentences. But for others, the acquisition of sounds and symbols is jumbled and inconsistent. For these children, feelings of inadequacy can become so entrenched that by six and seven years old they already believe they are incapable of reading. For them, a much different approach is required to ensure success. 

Every year, 28% of students (500 students) in Saskatoon Public Schools have not achieved at or above grade level literacy in reading by Grade 3.
(Saskatoon Public Board of Education Annual Report, 2017-18)

The Early Learner Tutor Program pairs struggling readers in Grades 1 to 3 with an experienced tutor to help them progress toward grade level reading. 

All students benefit from:

  • One-to-one support from an experienced tutor
  • 21 hours of specialized instruction tailored to each student’s unique learning profile
  • Family engagement and books at the student’s reading level to read at home

“I love to read now. You helped me with words I didn’t know. It was fun because I was reading books that were short and they weren’t that hard. I feel happy because I love to read books!”

~Grade 3 Student


Strong outcomes and powerful testimonials illustrate the tremendous impact that the Early Learner Tutor Program is having on children in our community. Simply put, the program is making a difference for children when it matters most. 

Positive Outcomes:

  • 99% Of students improved their reading levels
  • 75% of students reach grade level after 7 weeks
  • Over 1600 students have benefitted over 8 years

Additional positive outcomes include improved school attendance, increased confidence and willingness to read with others, increased ability to work on-task, and stronger parent engagement with an understanding of how to support their children at home. 

More impressively, long-term evaluation of children taking part in the program demonstrates that even three years after participating in the Early Learner Tutor Program, most students’ reading levels continued to develop and they were able to use their new learning strategies to boost success in other areas. 

The Early Learner Tutor Program is a valued literacy support for Saskatoon Public School students. The program continues to support students in reaching important early learning milestones and has had a profound impact on student success and early literacy. Expansion of the program in 2020-2021 has ensured that students with identified literacy needs have improved foundational literacy skills.

Charlene Hickie North Park Wilson teacher

Opportunities for Support 

The Saskatoon Public Schools Foundation invites our community partners to invest in student success by making a contribution to the Early Learner Tutor Program. Contributions can be structured in a number of meaningful and creative ways that align with your values and giving priorities.

Here is how your donation would make a difference:

Sample Sponsorship Levels

$500,000Fully funds one year
$175,000Fully funds one 7-week session (fall, winter, spring)
$5,000Funds five students’ participation
$1,000Funds one student’s participation

Recognizing Your Support 

We value our partners and make it a priority to acknowledge their contributions and will work closely with supporters to construct a recognition plan that meets their needs.

A 1% increase in the literacy rate would generate $18 billion in economic growth every year
(Canadian Literacy and Learning Network).