You Can Change the Trajectory of a Child's life
Asheville Citizen Times
January 13, 2013
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The Read to Succeed mission is straightforward: Get each student in the program to grade level in reading by the third grade. Why is this our single goal? Simple! Because the third grade is the tipping point. Children who do not read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to drop out before graduation. Before third grade we learn to read; beyond third grade we read to learn. We can’t learn if we can’t read.
The path to this goal for each child is not always so simple. To help students gain the needed set of cognitive skills, trained Read to Succeed coaches use an instructional system that engages young students’ senses—their sight, hearing and touch—so they may learn the sounds of each letter as well as combinations of letters, knowledge necessary to be able to read words. This method of developing the cognitive skills for reading has been shown to be successful with children from low-literacy homes. It has been highly successful with Read to Succeed students.
We also know that the dynamic relationship between a Read to Succeed volunteer coach and his or her student is another key component in achieving this goal. Recent research shows children also need non-cognitive skills to achieve reading proficiency (Heckman & Rubinstein, “The Importance of Noncognitive Skills,” May, 2001). In trying to answer the question “which skills and traits explain academic success,” researchers discovered what educators and parents have known for a long time; namely, that a cluster of character traits are as important as are cognitive skills. Children are far more likely to achieve reading proficiency if they can develop persistence at a task which is boring and often unrewarding, conscientiousness in following through with a plan, curiosity about the world, the ability to delay gratification, grit and toughness in the face of difficulty and, perhaps most important, confidence in his or her ability to succeed. Furthermore, these personality traits can be taught (Tough, 2012).
Read to Succeed coaches develop an one-on-one relationship with each student that encourages and builds these personality traits. For example, when Coach Stephen models calm focus on a task and insists on the same from Derontae, or when Coach Evelyn abandons that day’s lesson plan to allow Anya to pursue her curiosity about dragons, both coaches are encouraging non-cognitive traits that will help their students learn to read by the third grade.
If you want to help a child gain success in life, become a Read to Succeed volunteer reading coach. Our next orientation is Saturday, Feb.9 from 9:30 to 11:00. Training starts Feb. 12. For more information, please contact Julie Sherman, 251-4949 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Change the trajectory of a child’s life; become a reading coach.