Samantha Wood, author

"Literacy is freedom. It is so important to give your children the gift of literacy so they have a bright future."

What are the biggest rewards?

It is always a joy to hear the stories of what is happening back in the classrooms. Participants are so excited to share the achievements of their children and what they have been doing in classes. I can see they are proud of themselves and the children they work with. Being a part of the learning journey of both the participants and the children is very special. Recently, 7 of our participants from Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands graduated with their Certificate IV in Early Language and Literacy. It was such a privilege to be there as they accepted their award and to know the difference they are making with the children that they work with in their communities with their newly learnt skills.

The ALNF has a number of award-winning literacy programs, like the First Language Reading Course for Indigenous Australians. How do you implement those programs in the classroom?

The best part of my job is that I build the capacity of others to implement the programs in the classroom. My local language knowledge is very limited (just ask the ladies in the APY Lands) but the people I work with in community are the experts. We train them in the strategies and skills best to teach in First Language and they deliver and implement the lessons in the classroom. The children love being taught in their First Language and are so engaged in those lessons.

What do you think has been your greatest achievement so far in teaching?  (Or is it the little things, like engaging a child with a story, that are the best rewards?)

For me, it is seeing and hearing about the achievements of others that have been trained and the children they work with. It is coming back to a preschool and seeing the children more engaged in a book reading. Or hearing a teacher’s aide tell you they feel more useful and valued in the classroom. It is seeing the faces of children who are beginning to make connections in their learning. It is a team achievement.

What advice would you like to give parents in general about fostering a love of reading in children?

Literacy is freedom. It is so important to give your children the gift of literacy so they have a bright future. Parents hold such an important role in this and don’t need to be literacy experts to help their children succeed. I encourage all parents to read to their children every day. The research suggest that young children need to read 1000 books ayear. Although that might sound impossible, it is only 3 books a day. Also children need to engage in lots of language (30000 words a day to be exact) so parents should talk to their children as much as possible. It’s the small everyday things that will make a big difference in their children’s literacy journey.

Thank you for your time, Jessica. It has been an absolute delight chatting to you!

More happy readers...

Jessica working with a student.

For more information about the Australian Literacy & Numeracy Foundation visit

One of the best things about being an author is the opportunity to raise awareness about important issues. For me, that is childhood literacy. Books changed my life and now I want to pass on that love. So I was thrilled to recently interview Jessica Hampton, a trainer from the Australian Literacy & Numeracy Foundation who is doing amazing work in closing the Indigenous literacy gap. Read on to learn more about how Jessica travels around Australia to train educators, parents, and community members with the skills to teach language and literacy skills. As this remarkable teacher says, "LIteracy is freedom," and the results speak for themselves.

Hello, Jessica. Welcome to my blog.  So we can all get to know you a little better, tell me a bit about yourself?

I’m a former primary school teacher and have previously worked as a teacher and teacher trainer in Australia, Thailand, Fiji, the UK and the Solomon Islands. I have a passion for helping empower disadvantaged communities through education.

You are a trainer for the Australian Literacy & Numeracy Foundation.  Can you tell us about what your job involves? 

In my role as a trainer, I travel to various communities around Australia to train educators, parents, community members and service providers in Early Language and Literacy. The Early Language and Literacy course provides them with skills and resources that the community can use to support and develop the literacy needs of their children and better prepare them for school. It combines speech and language pathology and early years education best practice. We want to empower those from the community with the ability, knowledge and skills to teach and support their own children in developing the foundational language and literacy skills.

Was teaching something that always interested you?

Education plays such a vital role in society and in helping people achieve their goals in life. It has such an influence on your future and how you can contribute and participate in society. I always wanted to be part of that process in helping people learn and realise their potential.

What are the biggest challenges you face in teaching literacy to children from disadvantaged backgrounds?

The program works with urban regional and remote communities that experience common challenges including health and developmental issues, transgenerational illiteracy and disengagement from education. These factors impact on a child’s ability to learn and engage with education. Often at the start of the course, participants lack confidence in their literacy skills and abilities due to disengagement or transgenerational illiteracy. Over the course, we try and build up their confidence by providing them with specific strategies and unique resources that they can use on their children. It is always so encouraging to hear their stories when we come back to visit on what they have been doing in the classroom or at home with their children and the changes they have seen. They can see the value and powerful impact they can have on their children’s literacy development.

"Literacy is freedom": 

An interview with Jessica Hampton...

Wednesday December 20, 2017