Literacy Mentors provide support when learning is difficult
What we learned this year about the value of supportive relationships
This year has been a year of transitioning and understanding what can be accomplished when we work together. We learned that we could impact the growth of elementary children by investing more in our relationships with the them. The children who had consistent Literacy Mentors and strong relationships with them outperformed the children who had multiple literacy mentors each week.
We also learned that children who face multiple barriers to reading need highly individualized plans. For some of ESLC's elementary children, staff adapted the lessons nearly every day to address each child’s unique reading challenges.
Yes, it costs more to work with elementary children, but every child is important to us and to this community. Each has potential that can be unlocked through the support of a caring adult who cares about a child's success in school and life. Some children struggle to learn reading "on-time" because their brains are not quite ready for it. Your work and investment is preparing their brains for literacy, even if it feels like you aren't making progress. Indeed, many children who learned to read later, grew up to be functioning, working adults—including me. What if the Sisters at my Catholic school had given up on me?
Student needs are changing and that means we must adapt our methods to support reading growth by also addressing social-emotional needs. If a child cannot focus, acquiring phonics skills becomes impossible. If a student is angry about something a friend said, practicing letters and sounds is irrelevant. When traumatized, a person's executive functions shut down due to stress. Comprehending a new passage is hopeless. Some of the children ESLC serves are under stress due to poverty or inability to fit into the school “culture.” Your relationship, as a caring adult, is key to helping children refocus their brain and concentrate on learning.
Thank you. When you volunteer with a child, you make the impossible possible. You provide a foundation for a future filled with books!
As a result, ESLC will invest more time in training and preparing its tutors for those moments when a child’s brain is unable to focus on learning.