Are you eager to make a positive impact on young readers' lives this academic year?
Our County Ambassadors, who are also dedicated volunteer readers, have shared some invaluable tips to help you get started or enhance your experience when returning to school. If you have any ideas to add to this, please feel free to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope you have a rewarding and enjoyable time reading in school this year.
1. Build Relationships with Reception Staff:
Establish friendly connections with the reception staff whenever possible. They can provide valuable support and information during your visits!
2. Consistency Matters:
Request a list of the children you'll be reading with from the teacher(s) if possible. Encourage teachers to assign you the same children each week, fostering consistency. Periodically changing students, perhaps on a half termly basis, can also be beneficial if more children could benefit from your help.
3. Address Preferences:
Ask the teacher how they want the children to address you. Some may prefer formal titles like Mrs., Mr., or Miss, while others may like the informality of first names.
4. Understand the School's Routine:
Ask the school to explain a typical reading session in school, these will differ by age group. Ideally, you'll have time for a brief chat at the beginning and to offer praise at the end of the reading session.
5. Stay Informed About School Schedules:
Familiarize yourself with the school's inset days, class trips, and holidays, as these vary among schools. We don’t want you to turn up if the school is closed!
6. Bring a Notebook:
Consider carrying a notebook to jot down children's names and the page they reached in their books. This can be especially helpful as children don’t always remember what page they got up to.
7. Maintain Reading Records:
While many schools may ask you to complete a reading record for each child, if they don’t, consider writing down how they have read and if there is anything you want to concentrate on with them next time.
8. Don't Be Shy:
Some people feel nervous about interrupting a class to pull out the readers – there is no need to feel you are being disrespectful. Teachers would usually prefer you to pop your head in to say hello and to let them know you have arrived so you can collect the first child.
Once you have started with one child it can be less disrupting to get that child to send the next one on your list - they like doing that!
9. Choose a Quiet Spot:
If you're reading in a public area, position yourself and the child so your backs are to the traffic flow. If it is busy and noisy the children can get distracted but having your backs to the hullabaloo definitely helps!
10. Bring Visual Aids:
Consider bringing props or visual aids related to the reading material to engage the children. Always check with the teacher first to ensure it's appropriate.
11. Promote Comprehension:
Encourage understanding by asking questions like, "How do you think the character feels?" or "What might happen next?" This helps children develop comprehension and analytical skills.
12. Tailor Your Approach:
Recognize that each teacher has a unique approach, and some focus more on volunteer readers than others. If children frequently receive books that are too easy or too difficult, consult the Teaching Assistant for advice on appropriate reading levels.
13. Assist with Difficult Words:
If a child is struggling with challenging words, read a sentence aloud, discuss it with the child, and then have them read the same sentence back to you. This method enhances engagement and improves vocabulary.
14. Be Patient and Take Initiative:
Understand that teachers are often busy and overwhelmed and may not always be able to make time to chat with you. Be patient and proactive, taking the initiative to build a warm and friendly relationship. Over time, as they witness the children's progress, they may become more engaged with you.
15. Adapt to Changes:
Lessons do sometimes change and this can impact on your sessions – you may have to fill in ten minutes if assembly or a PE lesson is scheduled and clashes with your allocated session time. When this happens it is fine to say to the teacher that your volunteer period is set and that because of the change you will have to read with one less pupil and pick them up the following week. Of course if you have the flexibility to stay an extra 10 minutes to read with them that is great.
16. Spread Smiles and Fun:
Finally, remember to greet each child with a smile as they arrive, and most importantly, have fun during your time as a Schoolreaders volunteer!