Reading volunteers encourage students

Training sessions coming up for volunteer reading partners.

Struggling readers in the South Okanagan and Similkameen are getting some help from One To One, a children’s literacy program.

The program is currently seeking volunteer tutors for the fall and winter session.

“We have an amazing team of dedicated volunteer tutors,” said Joan Chambers, district coordinator for the program.

“We have retired teachers and education specialists, empty nesters who simply love reading, stay-home parents, shift-workers, and seasonal employees.”

“We have some volunteers who are here for the winter, and that works very well as we have others who go away for a few weeks.” Each tutor reads one-to-one with the same three students for half an hour each, one day a week for 12 weeks.

“The students participate at least three times a week, so they’ll be reading with up to four different tutors each week,” Chambers said.

“It’s important that all of our tutors understand the different reading strategies we’re encouraging, and how we communicate with one another.”

“We provide a free three-hour training session, and any other support the tutors need.”  The information collected by the tutors is passed along to the child’s classroom teacher, who may also make suggestions.

“Over the 12 weeks, there is usually significant improvement in the child’s reading.”

“Our goal is to get them caught up with their peers as soon as possible, so they won’t fall behind in their learning,” Chambers said.

The program is not designed for children with an identified learning disability or problem behaviours.

Tutors start by getting the children excited about books.

“Some kids grow up in homes where they don’t see someone settling in with a book just for pleasure,” says Chambers.

“Others have been frustrated or embarrassed at some point, so they avoid reading instead of practicing and improving, which means they fall further behind.”

The extra practice with the volunteers helps close that gap.   The 12-week sessions begin in most area schools in October and February.  Training is scheduled in Penticton on Sept. 27 and in Keremeos in October.  Interested adults can contact Chambers at 250-462-0636 for more information.