Volunteer in Metro Schools and help change a child’s life through reading
by Betsy Malone, FLIP volunteer
I have been a FLIP reading volunteer for three years. I do this because I strongly believe that every child can learn to read and that every child must learn to read. The skills of reading and reading comprehension are integral to the child’s success in school and to the child’s success as an independent learner outside of school. As a FLIP volunteer I have the opportunity to help students who are struggling with these critical reading and reading comprehension skills and to support the work the classroom teachers are doing.
I have four students, and I meet with each student for 30 minutes a week. I cannot teach these children to read in 30 minutes a week, but what I can do is to give them the confidence and the skills to help them in the classroom. Each child has different interests, different learning styles and different ways to communicate effectively. For 30 minutes, each of my students has my undivided attention with my focus on that student’s interests and challenges.
For this short period of time, it is all about that particular student. I can use reading materials that interest that student, presented in a way that the student can understand with no distractions. It is a safe environment for the student to make mistakes, to try new methods, to find small successes. Hopefully this student returns to the classroom feeling a little more confident in her/his abilities and bolstered knowing that there is one more adult who cares.
FLIP is a unique tutoring program in that the tutor and the student work as a pair for the year. The tutor and the student form a meaningful relationship, and each looks forward to the weekly sessions. The tutoring takes place during the school day in a room or area designated by the school. The tutor and the teachers communicate with each other, so the tutor knows which skills need reinforcement.
I am a retired middle school and high school educator, and I have never taught reading. I had some initial anxiety about my effectiveness as an elementary reading tutor. The training and support given by the FLIP organization and the reading/learning coaches in the schools are incredible.
As a FLIP volunteer, you are a part of a strong team that is working together to help these students be successful. FLIP provides books, sheets, reading guides, and other basic materials. Coaches within the schools are available to talk with you about individual students and to guide you to additional materials. Librarians help select books of interest at the appropriate grade level. Other FLIP tutors in the school share materials and ideas they have found that are effective. Teachers keep you informed of the student’s progress, successes, and continued challenges.
I encourage anyone who is 50+ years and who enjoys working with children to become a FLIP volunteer. We come from all areas of town, have varied backgrounds, have different life experiences. It is a wonderful opportunity to take 2 hours a week to help four children who need you. And wow, you will get as much if not more from this than the children!
If you are 55+ and are interested in becoming a FLIP tutor, please click here or contact 615-743-3422.