Letters to the Editor

Reading program needs volunteers

“In only an hour and a half, they can change a child’s life,” said Bev George, district coordinator for the One to One reading program, on the influence a volunteer can have on a child.

According to George, the four-year-old program that lasts six to eight weeks improves the reading level of students an entire grade.

“There’s always an improvement with kids,” George said. “Kids don’t return.”

An important reason the students improve is that they work with the same volunteers every session and receive tutoring for 30 minutes. Trained tutors provide a supportive environment, helping improve fluency and comprehension. With one volunteer working with three students, George said a trust factor is built.

“They learn to confide in the person,” she said, as kids are good at hiding their weaknesses by watching what others do. The efforts of the volunteer also help in another area as George has noticed that students in the program have benefited beyond the classroom.

“It increases their self-esteem,” she said. “They don’t feel part of the group.”

The one-on-one attention becomes more important because students are not receiving other specialized help from school district staff. George said students in Grades 1 to 3 are learning how to read, while those in Grades 4 to 7 must be able to read to learn.

A total of 45 volunteers are needed at Kinnaird Elementary School, Twin Rivers, and Castlegar Primary as the program is dependent on their support. Volunteers must be at least 16-years-old, have good reading and English language skills as well as a desire to make a difference. Schools require a criminal record check and a three-hour training session is offered on January 11.

“The schedule is built for volunteers,” George said. “It’s perfect for retired teachers, but anybody that likes to work with kids can do it.”

When it comes to learning how to read, George compared it to learning how to ride a bike.

“Once they catch on they get going,” she explained.

Tutoring takes place Monday to Friday, but volunteers come once a week. Anyone interested in helping can contact Bev George at 365-5103.

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