A day in the life of a Reading Buddy volunteer...

Sally Ridley's picture
Fri, 08/04/2016 - 10:35 -- Sally Ridley

Mukesh Solanki from Rolls-Royce has been a Reading Buddy at Sefton Park Primary School for many years and he makes a really valuable contribution to supporting pupils with their reading. Here is his recount of a day in the life of a Reading Buddy:-

It’s almost a quarter to twelve as we enter the School. The Hall is surrounded with displays of collages, painted pictures, smudgy charcoal drawings and stories written in the neatest handwriting. Above us is a gigantic dragon made from cardboard, string, straw and painted in fiery colours by the Children.

Each of us walk to different class-rooms to meet our Pupils. I get clocked by my Pupil through the window of the class-room door as I approach Palm Class. Her face lights up with a great smile and hand goes up, ‘Miss, Miss, my Reading Buddy’s here.’ is what I can make out that she tells her teacher. Rushing to her desk, she grabs her book and out she comes with a skip and all smiles.

‘Guess where we went on our trip yesterday?’ she shouts with excitement as she hangs off my forearm jumping up and down. She enlightens me with her adventure as we walk to the Library through a group of Children from Maple Class, who are rehearsing their Play in the Hall.

‘Can you remember what happened to Susie?’ I ask.

‘We got to Page 23 last week.’ she says. She thinks for a while, then we both discuss what happened to Susie from last week’s reading.

As she reads on, ‘What’s this word?’ she asks.

‘It’s a long and tricky word, isn’t it?’ I reply. I tell her to read the rest of the sentence and guess what the word might be. I then tell her to break up the word and pronounce the sounds bit-by-bit. She sounds each part slowly and looks at me in confusion.

‘Shall we try reading it together?’ I ask. As we slowly read the first half, she quickly finishes the word by herself as she realises what the word is.

After a couple of more pages, we encounter another difficult word.

‘Is that how you say it?’ she asks.

‘Almost. You got the first bit right, but let’s try the end bit again.’ I tell her.

After one or two attempts, I tell her what the word is.

‘I thought that’s what it was!’ she shouts.

‘Do you know what it means?’ I ask.

‘What does it mean?’ she replies.

‘Let’s look it up in the Dictionary shall we?’ I tell her.

We make some sentences using the new word that she’s learned.

‘Do you know any other words ending in “-gh”?’ I ask.

We make a small list of words and talk about the different sounds “-gh” makes.

‘Can we play Hang-man now?’ she asks with joy. ‘I know a great word.’ she says as she draws the dashed lines on the white board.

‘Almost time for me to go back to work soon.’ I say to her after a few games.

‘Shall we try some punctuation next week?’ I ask.

‘OK. We got to Page 29. I might read some more at home.’ she replies.

‘What do you think may happen to Susie if she puts on the magic shoes?’ I ask.

We both discuss what may happen next.

‘Tell me what happens when I come next week.’ I tell her.

‘See you next week!’ she shouts as she heads back to Palm Class.

I have been a Reading Buddy at Sefton Park Junior School since 2003, and I thoroughly enjoy working with the Pupils.

I go along with two colleagues so that either of us can cover if one cannot make a particular week. We usually have one-to-one reading sessions with our Pupil, but sometimes we have group sessions that include word games such as Hang-man, Word-searches, Cross-words, ‘Pick A Letter’, etc. The Children particularly enjoy this as it involves activities they would not normally do in class.

One hour of my time every week is a very small commitment to make a great difference to a Pupil’s confidence, self esteem and improvement in their basic literacy skills. All the Pupils that I have worked with over the years certainly appreciate the one-to-one adult attention, which they may not otherwise get in school or at home. They always look forward to meeting their Reading Buddy every week. However, they get disappointed if you cannot make a session.

The benefit to the Pupils is evident fairly immediately, particularly the build in confidence if they are generally struggling in Class, or English is not their first language. As we work with the same Child over the whole academic year, you build a great friendship, bond and trust.

This scheme also benefits me as I feel that I and Rolls-Royce (with other volunteers) are working in partnership with the local community. I feel that I am giving something back, helping Pupils. I feel rewarded to see the improvement of Children. Most of all, it gets me out of the office and helps me to manage a healthy balance of my wellbeing.

Fortunately, my local management have been very supportive of me carrying out this activity over the years. My only regret is that I didn’t start earlier. I find this scheme extremely rewarding and it is always great to ‘go back to school’ during the working week.

I can understand the difficult circumstances of some of the Pupils, therefore I will always continue to take part in this valuable scheme that ABLAZE has put together.

Mukesh Solanki

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