News / USA

Older Volunteers Help Children Learn to Read

Older Volunteers Help Children Learn to Readi
X
March 22, 2013 12:10 AM
Illiteracy is a problem in many of the world’s poorest countries. Even in wealthier nations like the United States, many children struggle with reading and writing. But in 19 cities across the country, the volunteers of Experience Corps are helping youngsters learn to read. The volunteers, all over 50, work with students in low-income areas. VOA’s Deborah Block visited a school in Washington where Experience Corps is making a difference.
Older Volunteers Help Children Learn to Read
Deborah Block
Illiteracy is a problem in many of the world’s poorest countries.  Even in wealthier nations like the United States, many children struggle with reading and writing.  But in 19 cities across the country, the volunteers of Experience Corps are helping youngsters learn to read.  The volunteers, all over 50, work with students in low-income areas.

Eight-year-old Kenasia Howard is reading about native Americans. She enjoys the story but says some words are difficult for her.

“Big words, and sometimes small words, I forget," she said.

She's reading with Sandy Morgan, who joined Experience Corps three years ago, after she retired. Morgan has been meeting Kenasia at Miner Elementary School twice a week for six months.  

“We built a rapport and trust and we just made reading fun," said Morgan.

She says youngsters feel comfortable with the older volunteers, who have much to offer.

“Most of us are parents and grandparents," she said. "We get through to them. We just talk to them calmly, but we definitely have to have the patience. But we have learned that over the years through experience.”

When they are reading, the children may have trouble focusing, get their letters mixed up or add words that aren't there.

Dajah Staton faces all those problems.  Linda Nelson is working with the 9-year-old, who only reads at a beginner's level.  Nelson says she encourages Dajah when the girl feels like giving up.

“You keep on, you keep trying, you keep doing, and it will open up a whole other world for you if you read a story and understand it," said Nelson.

Dajah’s mother, Florita Staton,  is grateful for the help from Experience Corps.  

“Without them, I don’t know where she would be. Maybe she’d still be behind from where she is," said Staton.

The adult literacy rate in the United States is more than 97 percent, but a national reading test indicates that almost 40 percent of 7 and 8-year-olds do not have basic reading skills.  Studies have shown that those children are more likely to drop out of school eventually. And children from low-income families are even more likely to leave.

Sydney Gibson doesn’t want that to happen to the students he tutors, including 8-year-old Damoni Rodgers.

“I’m going to try to make sure that they leave by the end of the day knowing a little more than they came in with," said Gibson.

Damoni, who has trouble concentrating, says her reading has improved since she started working with Gibson.

“And if I don’t get it right, he just says, ‘Next time... You tried your best, though,'" said Damoni.

Sandy Morgan says most of the students who work with Experience Corps tutors improve their reading by 60 percent.

"I have seen my little girl’s reading improve tremendously," said Morgan. "Not only does she read accurately but now her speed has come up, so now she’s reading and moving along progressively.”

She says the volunteers' experience - and attention - is making the difference.

You May Like

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid