What is ‘Right to Read (R2R)’?
Right to Read is a volunteering opportunity offered to CU students by the Volunteering and Employability department. This can be done either through the ‘volunteering in schools’ add+vantage module Level 1, or by making a general inquiry to V&E and signing up.
The scheme is designed to support school children struggling with basic reading skills, with the aim to helping them achieve the standards that are required of children at their age. First and foremost, student volunteers are expected to raise the confidence levels of children and encourage them to read out loud. This is done by building a relationship with the child and being in a position to offer constructive feedback.
Omaria has been volunteering with a child at Radford Primary School in Coventry for 1 ½ hours a week. So, what has she been doing?
‘’I mainly listen to the child read out loud, and offer feedback where necessary. I then help her with words she doesn’t understand by using a ‘flashcard’ exercise. I get her to write down the words onto a piece of card and help her construct a sentence using the word on the back of the card. I got the idea from my own GCSE revision and it’s worked really well’’.
‘’I also have a brother the same age as her, so I’ve been looking through his worksheets to get some more ideas’’.
What have you gained from the project?
‘’I want to be a primary school teacher so I took part in this course to gain some extra experience. I’ve been able to develop my communication skills and cater it to working with children. Body language skills are really important when working with children; you have to remember to smile, use hand movements and show patience when explaining things to them. You also have to repeat yourself or talk slowly to help them understand’’.
‘’I study Childhood and Youth Studies at CU so this has gone really well with my studies. I’ve been learning about child safeguarding, working with groups and generally how to support children. Seeing all this in action has been really beneficial’’.
‘’I also feel like my confidence has improved, and it’s nice to get recognition for your efforts by getting a certificate. It’s also a good way of getting references from schools if you want to apply for teaching courses’’.
What impact has there been on the child?
Children often lack the reading and writing skills because of a lack of practice. They may not get the opportunity to read at home and hear direct feedback from a second party. The R2R scheme is about giving children that opportunity.
‘’My child has managed to move up on sub-level from a 3C to a 3B which was nice to see. I was working with quite a confident child anyway, and she has provided me with some good feedback about myself’’.
What advice do you have for students looking to take part in the R2R scheme?
‘’It’s a great scheme if you’re looking to go into primary school teaching. It gives you experience of working with that age group, which gives you an insight into what it might be like. By doing some other volunteering with secondary schools, you’ll be able to tell where you’re most comfortable’’.
‘’It wasn’t difficult to fit it in with studies, but it helps with planning your time effectively. I keep all the dates on my phone and work out a timetable from them. It’s important to plan your activities before the session, so I usually spend an hour each week just planning what I’m going to do’’.
‘’It’s a good way to get some experience and earn yourself a certificate and reference. As well as this, you’re making a positive difference to someone’s life’’.