Story by Volunteer Coach Diane

Carlo didn’t like to read. Now in grade two, his reading level was quite low and he was at risk of giving up altogether. It wasn’t possible for him to get extra help at home. Mom and Dad were working long hours, trying to learn English and finding it difficult to meet the family’s needs financially.

On the pre-test used in the Strong Start® program to assess very early reading skills, he did quite well on two out of the three sections. He knew the names of the letters and could give you a sound for most of them, but he wasn’t reading. He had difficulty making the link between letters, sounds and words. On the pre-test he knew fewer than half of the words. This pre-test is based on skills children are expected to have at the end of Kindergarten. Carlo, in grade two, needed help. He needed to be motivated to work at learning to read and he needed confidence that he could be a reader.

Diane became his Volunteer Coach. She felt passionately that it was important to help a child before the situation got so bad that it couldn’t be undone. The Strong Start® program was a good tool because it is designed to give a child the exclusive attention of a caring adult. Diane believed that this one-to-one attention might be the magic key.

There are lots of games and activities in the program to keep a child interested. Diane was able to use these games in an ingenious way to give Carlo the extra motivation he needed. Carlo was older than the children that are usually involved in Strong Start® and he had younger siblings who were old enough to benefit from the games as well. Diane showed Carlo how to make his own games like the ones in Strong Start® and then sent him home to teach his younger siblings. What a motivation! Carlo now had a great reason to learn and the reward of being a leader at home. Diane was sure to teach him how to use simple materials available to him at home or at school so that he did not have to ask his parents for money in order to make his games.

Diane got wonderful rewards from her work. Carlo’s teacher came to her and said excitedly, “Do you know what you’ve done! Carlo is listening better, his attention span has increased, his spelling has improved and best of all he’s now reading on his own!” On the post-test for the Strong Start® program, Carlo scored 100%. When his teacher did her reading level test, she was thrilled to see that Carlo could now handle books that were seven reading levels higher than the ones he was reading just ten weeks earlier! The confidence and improved self-image in Carlo will have a positive affect on his learning for a long time to come and Diane will forever remember that she was a part of making this happen.