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

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid