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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora