“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” Dr Seuss, ‘I can read with my eyes shut!’
The Paddington Community Programme agrees wholeheartedly with Dr Seuss and can demonstrate the extraordinary benefit of improving children’s reading skills through the continued success of their Reading Programme, run in local primary schools. Volunteers are paired up with one or two students (aged 6 to 11 years) to help with reading for one hour, once a week, during school lunchtime.
Hallfield Primary School has been involved with the programme for six years. Flora Cox is Reading Recovery Teacher & Leader of Learning Year 2 at the school and is clear on the children’s needs:
“Our young readers have differing developmental needs and can also fall behind due to lack of opportunity outside of the classroom, to practice their reading. The reading volunteers are essential in helping the children improve and, most importantly, recognise the joy to be found in reading.”
It is the pleasure that can be obtained from reading, the stimulation of the imagination, that schools within the programme are keen to promote. Through the enjoyment of reading, children gain a much deeper understanding of the books and the lessons contained within them. The ability to comprehend and then communicate thoughts and ideas of course applies in all areas of a child’s life, and future growth.
Being a reading volunteer primarily involves: being committed to a weekly session; providing consistent encouragement; displaying good reading practice; and modelling the way in which to share thoughts and feelings through conversation.
“The broad smiles on the faces of the children as their mentors arrive each week is unceasing and just increases over time - the confidence these children gain is palpable, and so very rewarding for all involved.” said Flora.
Some children keep the same mentor from reception to Year 6, but there can also be rotation of the children a volunteer visits. Esme Inegbu is an Executive Assistant in Legal at Prudential and has been a reading mentor for five years:
“When I first started, I thought I would need to be an expert but I soon realised as it is primary level reading, it is the time and attention you give each child that is the important part. Whether you are reading to them, or they to you, sharing how to listen, think and communicate is key.” explains Esme.
We are always in need of new volunteers to ensure this programme keeps thriving - if you are interested in volunteering, the Paddington Community Programme will manage the whole process including the police check and introduction to the school. The school will give you a full briefing, and the children you are allocated will choose their own books.
“All you need to do is arrive at the school with your sense of wonder to share with the children, and watch as their choice of books develops alongside their pride in their abilities.” Esme Inegbu