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July 24, 2017

Tulsa tutor cultivates love of reading in her student

When Janice, a retired educator, heard about Reading Partners at her church in Tulsa, OK, she and her husband excitedly signed up to volunteer.

Janice was paired with Jennifer, a third  grader at Key Elementary, who was reading more than a year below grade level, and struggled with reading comprehension and sounding out words.

One of the biggest challenges they worked to overcome was Jennifer’s insecurity about reading. As a dual language learner coming from a home where English is a secondary language, Jennifer struggled with understanding and distinguishing sound groups. Even though her classmates were reading chapter books, Jennifer preferred to read books with large pictures and few words. Rather than trying to sound out a tricky word, she would guess or skip over it completely.

Over the course of the year, Janice and Jennifer cultivated a strong bond built on a foundation of trust. Janice learned that sharing jokes with Jennifer helped her feel comfortable, and she began sounding out tricky words on her own. Eventually they discovered that Jennifer loved fairy tales and books with “sparkles.” Once they discovered what books she enjoyed, Janice was able to help Jennifer spark an interest in trying out more challenging books.  

One week, Jennifer chose a book about a Samurai, one of the most challenging books in the Read Aloud Library. While reading, she was no longer afraid to sound out hard words and ask for their meaning. In fact, Jennifer’s site coordinator said she is one of the few students to persevere through the book!

Jennifer and Janice’s special bond goes beyond just reading together. Jennifer loves that Janice volunteers with her husband, Duane. When he had to take a three-month break from tutoring due to health reasons, she always asked how he was doing and gave him a big hug when he returned.

Thanks to the consistency of weekly tutoring sessions with Janice, Jennifer has grown significantly in her literacy skills. She advanced to the next curriculum level and received a firm foundation to continue developing her comprehension skills.

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