Proficiency in reading by the end of third grade is a crucial marker in a child’s educational development. In the early years, learning to read is a critical component of education. But beginning in fourth grade, children use reading to learn other subjects, and therefore, mastery of reading becomes a critical component in their ability to keep up academically. Children who reach fourth grade without being able to read proficiently are likely to drop out of high school, significantly reducing their earning potential and chances for success. According to NAEP, approximately 60% of fourth grade children in the rural and southwest areas of Virginia SCORED BELOW THE PROFICIENT LEVEL OF READING.
H.E.L.P. is working with local schools, community partners and parents by expanding and adding new programs that will directly impact the reading levels of Washington County children.
Reading to the Dogs
Every year the elementary schools in Washington County and Kidz Place receive visits from the “Tail Waggin’ Tutors”. These happy canines are certified Therapy Dogs who help us promote reading by creating a non threatening environment for children to read out loud. They live in loving homes with incredibly generous adults (handlers) in the Washington County area. Their handlers spend many volunteer hours transporting them to various sites where they interact with children and adults. We are so very grateful for the committed hours and advocacy of our “Tail Waggin Tutor” owners!
TURNING PAGES Reading Program
The Turning Pages Reading Program is the result of a collaborative effort between H.E.L.P., United Way SWVA and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. In May of 2014 BB/BS dissolved and H.E.L.P. agreed to absorb their “Be A Buddy” mentoring program. The program was revised to focus on reading skills and the name was changed to TURNING PAGES. By creating partnerships within the community, Literacy Coaches provide one-on-one reading experiences with children who are falling behind in their reading and comprehension skills. The goal is to make sure that children in our county are prepared to enter the 4th grade with the reading skills that are so critical at this pivotal stage of their educational path. H.E.L.P. recruits, trains and manages Volunteer Reading Coaches who have committed to spend at least 30 minutes each week with one or more students, listening, encouraging and developing mentoring relationships.
PARTNERS involved in this reading program are: United Way Virginia Highlands, Virginia Highlands Community College, Washington County School System, Kidz Place, Washington County Sheriff’s Dept., Emory & Henry College, and many individual community volunteers.