Volluntiering for reeding thyme

One of my favorite things each week is my volunteer time in The Big Sis’s classroom, as I am fortunate to have work supervisors who allow me this flexibility each Friday morning. This is the third year I have done it: kindergarten year I did literacy activities with the kids and then read with them one-on-one each week, and last year I did something a little different by leading groups of five in automaticity drills (basically giving a timed test so they could practice quick recall of their addition and subtraction facts).

This year my volunteer time coincides with their literacy block, so I happily returned to working one-on-one having the kids read to me. I didn’t mind helping with the math drills last year, but reading is my first love, and I like the idea of doing what I can to help other kids hone their reading skills.

Confession: I am not a great out-loud reader, even now as an adult.

Looking back in school, that’s one thing I wish I’d had more opportunities to do — reading out loud to someone else — as I would rate myself just a so-so to poor verbal reader nowadays. We never really read out loud in small groups (that I remember…), but instead it was always done in front of the entire class. Something about reading for the whole class jangled my nerves, and I never performed very well in those situations. But I feel like if I’d had more practice reading aloud in smaller groups or one-on-one, then perhaps I’d be a better verbal reader now.

I remember one time when I was in probably 7th or 8th grade, I was chosen to read a passage out loud, much to my chagrin, and I came across the word “annihilate.” I knew what the word meant — and I’d even said it in casual conversation before — but somehow the connection hadn’t been made in my brain, and much to my embarrassment, I pronounced it “ANN-hill-ate.”

Then one time in 5th grade, the whole class (no joke!) had to write sentences because I mispronounced the word “participle.” (I pronounced it “par-TIS-uh-pull,” which you’d better believe I know now. The whole class had to write sentences because no one volunteered to correct my pronunciation when asked.) It’s funny, but even now as a newspaper copy editor, I need to know how words and names are spelled, not necessarily how they are pronounced, so very often I say a word a certain way in my head so I remember it better, even if that’s not really how it should be pronounced. I have to be very careful when I speak to make sure I pronounce it the real way instead of phonetically.

So I’m glad to give these 2nd graders some my time each week so they can practice reading out loud in a non-pressure environment. Some of the kids have no problems whatsoever, while others struggle a bit more and could use further practice.

I can certainly relate.


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