Most people agree that a quality education is a building block for a good quality of life. When children enter kindergarten without fundamental reading skills they begin school already behind. Studies show that if a child is not reading at their grade level in 3rd grade, they continue to struggle and it greatly impacts their ability to graduate on time. When kids don’t graduate, most will lack the skills to succeed as self-supporting adults.
In the past few years, our public schools have faced immense budget cuts. A reduction in staff assistants and increased classroom sizes challenge our teachers. But clearly, schools cannot manage the needs alone. Communities must now become involved even more to ensure that each child gains the important tools needed to become productive adults.
Nationwide, United Way has launched a three-year commitment to recruit 1,000,000 volunteers to provide early academic support to school kids in need. Ambitious? You bet. But United Way believes it can be done. In our community the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) has developed a model to help our schools and young readers who may be struggling.
Being a reading buddy is a minimum commitment of 30 minutes per week and requires no formal training. Volunteers provide an essential role in a child’s academic development, by practicing literacy and comprehension, while encouraging an appreciation of reading for a child who may be feeling discouraged.
United Way and RSVP hope to instill the value of reading in the earliest grades, which will carry them through high school graduation and beyond. Common good for our youth is common good for all. If you want to help our schools and be a reading buddy, contact Jennifer Thompson, RSVP Volunteer Coordinator at 360-943-2773 x 21 or email@example.com.