My second volunteer job was helping two elementary school students improve their reading, but we are now finished for the summer. I worked with two cute little boys for one hour each, one a second grader and one a third grader. As I mentioned in an earlier post about seeing poverty up close, it was eye-opening to learn about my students and their lives, as well as the other children who came to the tutoring program. Many of the families were struggling to make ends meet and some had additional social problems to deal with: some were immigrants, some couldn’t speak English very well, many had difficulty finding employment, some had substance abuse issues, and more. The kids were sweet and smart and mostly positive about life, despite their circumstances. Sometimes I would go in an extra day and help students make up a session they’d missed. On one such day, I had a very intelligent little girl who told me she loved school, her school was “the best in town” (it’s not….but I am so glad she thought so!) and that she wants to be a teacher when she grows up. I hope she forever keeps that enthusiasm and achieves her dream!
I’ve always loved to read, though I have to admit that in these days of internet browsing of news and informational articles, I don’t read as many books as I once did. I think part of it is a symptom of getting older, too, because my eyes get tired much more quickly than they did when I was younger. 🙂 But I can’t imagine not enjoying reading nor being unable to read. Reading is such a foundation for so many other subjects in school and for so many functions in life. I find it really sad when kids struggle to read because then they heartily dislike it, and they avoid working on it, and then they get further and further behind. It becomes the proverbial vicious cycle. Hopefully the tutoring program is breaking that cycle and helping kids catch up, keep up, and learn to enjoy reading.
Both of my little guys were strugglers but they were bright and curious and usually seemed to enjoy participating in the program. We had structured lessons so we started out with the tutor reading aloud for 10 minutes, then we worked on tasks together, including the student reading aloud to the tutor. Most of the books were fun and interesting for the kids, so that helped. They were also encouraged to take home a book after each session and they received rewards for writing a basic book report if they wanted to do so. One of my students LOVED to do book reports and I don’t think the other one ever did any! 🙂
I looked forward to my once a week sessions with the kids and had a couple of funny encounters–one day I was sitting with a student and he was lightly stroking my hand while I read a story to him. My heart swelled as I thought how sweet he was, just wanting to connect with me while we read together. Then, as he ran his fingers over the veins on the back of my hand, I heard him say under his breath, “old, old, old.” LOL Kids can certainly keep you humble, can’t they?
We were all a bit sad when the school year came to an end. We had a little party and I took my students some books for the summer–hopefully they will keep up with their reading and enjoy it on their own while out of school. I worry about what they will do all summer and hope that they will be safe and not too bored. I can’t post photos because of confidentiality but you can just imagine how cute they were. 🙂
Now that my Wednesdays are free, I might have to look around for something else to do with my time!