Tutors needed for South Okanagan reading program

Literacy Now South Okanagan-Similkameen providing reading assistance at 11 schools in the South Okanagan Similkameen

Volunteer tutor Arleen Maeck works with a Carmi Elementary School student through the One to One program

Volunteer tutor Arleen Maeck works with a Carmi Elementary School student through the One to One program

Just 90 minutes a week could make a big difference in local kids’ lives.

A local literacy group is seeking volunteers for its in-school reading program that pairs adult tutors with a trio of elementary school-aged children for 30 minutes a day.

“They’re kids that are, what we call, reluctant readers,” said Joan Chambers, outreach co-ordinator for Literacy Now South Okanagan-Similkameen.

So they’re not in a special education program, but are simply at a crucial age where intervention is important.

“Kids in Grades 1 to 3 are learning to read, and by Grade 4 you need to be able to read to learn. So if you haven’t mastered reading, you’re going to start falling further and further behind,” Chambers said.

The program operates in eight schools in the Okanagan Skaha School District and three schools in the Okanagan Similkameen School District. Each school requires at least 12 volunteers, who are usually retirees or parents of children at their school of choice.

New volunteers must attend a three-hour training session to learn how best to coach young readers, and will have to pass a criminal record check. The program will get underway in October once schools have had a chance to see which students need tutoring.

Volunteer tutor Linda Beaven is looking forward to another session.

“It was the most gratifying experience of feeling like you’re doing something positive and worthwhile that I’ve had in a long time,” said Beaven, a school trustee and retired Summerland high school teacher.

“The kids are so proud of themselves when they can read a story. I really noticed even in four months the improvement from where we started to where we finished in their confidence and capability of reading fluently and understanding what they were reading. It was amazing.”

For more information or to volunteer for the program, contact Chambers at 250-462-0636 or literacynowsos@gmail.com.