Four-year-old Peyton Jones has the biggest smile when talking about her ReadingPal coaches and books. Thanks to the efforts of the ReadingPal volunteers who worked with her, books have become her comfort, her way of entertaining her little sister early in the morning, a source of special joy.
“My favorite book is ‘The Big Hungry Bear,’” she said, describing the children’s classic about a mouse trying to keep his strawberry from being eaten.
When Peyton started the school-year as a new VPK student at the Riverplace Chappell Childcare Center, she was hesitant, not quite sure of herself. Now, Peyton has blossomed into a confident student, ready to take on new learning opportunities.
“We’ve always tried to promote reading,” said her mom, Aaron. “But now, she has more of a love of reading. Now she’s sounding out words and reading to us!”
Echoing her mother’s point, Peyton’s eyes light up when describing her favorite word to read — especially poignant considering that she began the school year not knowing her letters.
“My favorite word is ‘the,’” she said. “It’s in everything!”
ReadingPal coach, Susan Gaffney was delighted to see the progress she made.
“Peyton was so easygoing,” she said. “It was great seeing how she has blossomed over the course of time. As she came out of her shell, she picked up more and got more excited.”
As her confidence grew, Peyton began to pick up other skills.
“Her vocabulary has increased too! It surprises us that she knows words that we didn’t think she knew,” Aaron Jones said. “She knows them and uses them correctly. She’s really prepared for Kindergarten and even has an advantage to other kids going into kindergarten.”
Peyton’s progress is especially important to her parents who are avid readers.
“It’s my go to thing,” said Aaron Jones. “There’s nothing like curling up in a comfy chair and reading a book, especially a familiar one. I keep all my books. My mom was a reader too. Every Friday night my mom and grandfather would go out to dinner with me and then to the bookstore to look at the books. I’ll always remember the joy of reading a good book as a child.”
The ReadingPals program has been able to give Peyton access to that same joy.
“ReadingPals have helped Peyton express herself,” said Diane Marsteller, Peyton’s VPK teacher. “The program provides such a positive experience. It really helps with listening skills. They really make it fun.”
“I thought it was a great opportunity,” her mother said. “Anytime you can do anything to encourage reading its great.”
Through the careful coaching of ReadingPal volunteers like Susan Gaffney, Peyton now has a sound foundation for further reading success in school and out.