December Blog by Penny Lambert

I would like to share a voluntary activity which I do as a retired Speech & Drama teacher – that is reading with children in Primary School. So many teachers are so hard pressed to spend sufficient time with each pupil to help with their reading skills. Many classes have 30 children in them with very mixed abilities, and if the school is lucky enough to employ a teacher to mentor a severely disabled child, that is all they are able to do – not join in with helping the other children.

It was through an initiative from our local Rotary Club that I became involved. Several local schools were grateful for the proffered help and I have been attached to one school for several years. As in all things it is good to be consistent so that the children get to know and trust you. You learn their names and sometimes aspects of their home life that you don’t necessarily expect to hear. But by the end of a term, and certainly by the end of the year, they have become little friends.

I use my eyes and ears to pick up the current trends in phonetics – the sounding out and blending – which thankfully is very similar to the way I was taught all those years ago. Books for the very young children are so cleverly illustrated these days that they find help matching the words to the pictures, and are encouraged to talk around the subjects thus introducing them to the skill of comprehension.

As a Speech & Drama teacher I find myself encouraging the children to speak expressively and when their reading has ‘taken off’ to slow them down so that every word is clear and the story is allowed to come to life.

I would really recommend this voluntary activity as we have experience with young people and are not alarmed when entering a classroom!

Volunteering in primary schools – December blog