A love of reading doesn’t come naturally to all kids, so for those who are challenged by letters and words reading can be a discouraging task.
To ensure all kids learn, and enjoy, this necessary skill, volunteers like Lindy Blakely have been dedicating their time to read with kids in the One to One Program.
But the program, which has been running in the Vernon, Lumby, Lavington, Cherryville and Okanagan Indian Band schools for 19 years now, is in need of more volunteers.
The Junction Literacy Centre runs the programs in the schools and has training sessions coming up Sept. 26, Oct. 1 and Oct. 2. Anyone, from retired community members to parents, can take part by contacting district co-ordinator Bonnie Hutton at 250-549-2216 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteers who can commit to one-and-a-half hours one morning or afternoon per week for 12 weeks will not only help kids read, but improve their self esteem.
“These kids know that they are below average in their class so that is really hard on their self-esteem,” said Blakely. “So they give up trying and they decide that reading is too hard and they decide that they hate reading.”
Children, particularly those in Grades 2-4, are referred by their teacher to the program.
“We take kids who have little glitches in their reading such as they can’t focus on the lines or they rush reading,” said Blakely.
Kids like Kyle Bush join the One to One program to improve their skills.
“We get to read and play games,” said Bush, a Grade 3 Kidston Elementary student.
By making reading fun, the kids improve their skills and learn to enjoy reading.
“Kyle did really well, he really moved ahead in his reading ability,” said Blakely, who in her 12th year of volunteering. “As their reading skills improve their confidence really rises and they start to smile.”
It is also a skill that supports the Vernon School District’s goal that every capable child will learn to read by Grade 3.
“It’s a critical time which leads to success in all the future grades,” said Debbie Schiller, Junction Literacy Centre executive director. “If our volunteers can have a bigger impact with Grade 1s, but especially Grade 2, 3 and 4s, they build confidence through the rest of their school life.”
Seeing the improvement in the kids is the most rewarding experience, said Blakely, who is usually saddened when the program ends in May but as excited as a young school girl to start again in September.
It’s a sentiment shared by many past and current volunteers who have enjoyed helping “so many kids that otherwise might fall through the cracks,” said one parent volunteer.
And for many, it isn’t just the kids who learn.
“As much as I have enjoyed tutoring our students, I feel like I have learned a great deal from them as well,” said a college student.
For more information visit www.junctionliteracy.ca