Remedial reading is a problem for today’s students. Parents should begin reading picture books to their children as soon as they are old enough to sit up. Unfortunately, bed time stories aren’t a part of every family’s culture. Some working parents don’t have the time or energy to read to their children. Some parents can’t afford to buy books. Others don’t have the time or transportation to go to the library.
In the book, Understanding Poverty, the author cites that poor children are usually two years behind middle class students in their reading skills because their parents didn’t read story books to them before they started school. If more of these students are to graduate from high school, then it is up to an after school care program to strive to bridge the culture gap, and offer the students reading activities that they can’t get at home.
Story time is a good way to keep kindergarteners quiet while the older students do their homework. The leader should be sure to take time to point to the picture after reading a page, pointing out the people and things that are mentioned in the text. This method of reading helps young children understand that the words have meaning, and that the story is telling them something.
Story time can also be used as an art project. Before reading the book, tell the students that they will be drawing a picture of their favorite part of the story. This method will encourage them to pay attention, and will allow the leader to see if they understood the story.
After school programs can also use reading for an end of the day activity. When the group gets down to four or five students, have them put away all of the supplies except for a few books. Ask the older students to read a picture book to the younger ones. Teach them the method for reading; point to the word as you say it so that they learn that letters make a noise and then point to the picture to find what the words are talking about. This activity will help both students read, and will teach the older student a good skill for babysitting or raising their own children.
Many after school care programs have chapter books for older readers. This isn’t the best choice for this type of environment. The students already have chapter books that they have checked out of the library. They aren’t allowed to take the program’s books home because there isn’t any way to check them out like a library does. Because the group is on a schedule, they can’t read as long as they like, and have to be willing and able to stop reading at any point.
Because of these reasons, the best books for an after school care program are ones that can be read in 15 minutes or less; joke books, According to Hoyle, science experiments, game instructions, magazines, short story collections, etc. When a program has this kind of material available, the student will know they can read for a while, and it doesn’t matter if they lose their place or get to finish the entire book.
Students will be more willing to read if they percieve the information as useful. An after school care program can offer books about elective courses that the students aren’t allowed to take in school, or that aren’t available at their school. These subjects can include things like welding, car repair, or home repair. Repair manuals can offer them a solution to a problem they have at home and will let them explore a subject they are interested in.
It has been said that a book can be a good friend. Friends are entertaining and enjoyable to be with, but they are also willing to help solve a problem, interesting, and insightful. When choosing books for an after school program, make them user friendly, and perhaps they will be used more often.
This information comes from the new ebook Caring After School: How to make after school care teach more, cost less and run more smoothly. This book can be used as a training manual for new employees, or by a director to step up the value of the program being offered. Caring After School is available from Amazon as a Kindle.