Sow­ing the seeds to grow great read­ers

Harefield Gazette - - SPOTLIGHT -

A READ­ING char­ity in Lon­don is ur­gently calling for vol­un­teers in West Lon­don to help pri­mary school chil­dren be­come more con­fi­dent read­ers.

Beanstalk re­cruits, trains and sup­ports vol­un­teers to work in lo­cal pri­mary schools with chil­dren who have ei­ther fallen be­hind with their read­ing, lack con­fi­dence, or strug­gle with their flu­ency, com­pre­hen­sion or vo­cab­u­lary.

How­ever, the char­ity ur­gently needs vol­un­teers from the West Lon­don area who can sup­port chil­dren for three hours a week in pri­mary schools in Ham­mer­smith, Ful­ham, White City and North Kens­ing­ton.

This year, over 400 pri­mary school leavers in these ar­eas of West Lon­don did not meet the ex­pected stan­dards of read­ing.

Beanstalk wants to en­sure it can sup­port more chil­dren that fall be­hind with read­ing, help­ing boost their en­joy­ment of books and over­all con­fi­dence.

Lind­say Fox, Beanstalk area man­ager in Lon­don, said: “Read­ing is such a fun­da­men­tal skill which helps chil­dren dis­cover the world around them, but some chil­dren do strug­gle and they don’t al­ways have ac­cess to books at home or an adult to read with on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

“That is where Beanstalk read­ing helpers can re­ally make a dif­fer­ence. Last year our read­ing pro­grammes helped over 3,500 chil­dren across wider Lon­don.

“Our read­ing helpers are crit­i­cal to de­liv­er­ing this sup­port and we have sev­eral read­ing helper va­can­cies in West Lon­don which ur­gently need to be filled this side of Christ­mas, so they can be trained and placed in a school ready for Jan­uary.

“Each vol­un­teer will sup­port three chil­dren for 30 min­utes, twice a week, for one year. It re­ally is such a ful­fill­ing and mean­ing­ful vol­un­teer­ing role which trans­forms lives, so please get in touch to­day if you think you can help.”

Sally is from Chiswick and is in her eleventh year of vol­un­teer­ing with Beanstalk:

“When chil­dren can’t read well, they don’t read for fun and they can’t ac­cess a great deal of the school cur­ricu­lum. I work with year four chil­dren and by that stage they re­ally do need to be able to work in­de­pen­dently, to write flu­ently and to read widely for plea­sure and in­for­ma­tion. If they can do that, they en­joy school and learn­ing. If they can’t, they are dis­cour­aged and fall be­hind their peers.

“In a good school, a read­ing helper is part of a team – the class teacher, teach­ing as­sis­tants and the spe­cial ed­u­ca­tional needs co­or­di­na­tor (SENCO), as well as the child’s own par­ents who are of­ten re­ally grate­ful for the spe­cial at­ten­tion be­ing given to their child.

“Be­ing able to of­fer a dif­fer­ent in­sight into the child’s abil­ity and at­ti­tude to read­ing is help­ful all round and I have a good re­la­tion­ship with the class teacher and SENCO.

“The chil­dren en­joy hav­ing an adult who gives them un­di­vided at­ten­tion for half an hour twice a week, and they like hav­ing time to talk about what they are read­ing and ask for help if they don’t un­der­stand some­thing.

“In my school, hav­ing a Beanstalk read­ing helper is seen as a real priv­i­lege and the other chil­dren in a class of­ten ask me if they can come out too. So the chil­dren feel spe­cial, which is good for their con­fi­dence.

“This year my three boys are quite com­pet­i­tive with each other and are al­ways look­ing to see what the oth­ers are read­ing, which is an­other in­cen­tive for them.”

If you can help by be­com­ing a Beanstalk read­ing helper in West Lon­don, please visit the web­site at www.beanstalkchar­ where you can com­plete an on­line form or call Beanstalk on 0845 450 0307.

Beanstalk vol­un­teers help chil­dren prac­tise their read­ing

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