Diago is a typical 6-year old boy. He loves Pokemon, playing soccer, and class outings to the skating rink. One thing not on his list of favorites? Reading. That is, until he joined the United Way Suncoast ReadingPals program at his elementary school and was partnered up with Sara.
Sara was looking for a way to give back that fit with her busy work schedule. ReadingPals did that while also giving her the opportunity to work with the same child over an extended period of time.
ReadingPals provides personal attention and positive reinforcement to children in grades K-3, while helping them improve their reading skills and develop a lifelong love of reading. Students and their adult volunteers meet once or twice a week throughout the school year to read books and play reading and word games.
Diago and Sara have been paired up since Dec. 2016, meeting for an hour each Thursday. In addition to reading books, they play games like Hangman and Go Fish, which help Diago improve his spelling skills and vocabulary. When they first met, he couldn’t read fluently, didn’t like to read, and had problems focusing. In the short amount of time that the two have been working together, Sara has seen an amazing transformation.
As she says, “The biggest change in Diago has been his confidence. Now he is excited to take home a chapter book and can't wait to read it. Previously he was overwhelmed with the amount of pages in a book or the size of the font. He is now more willing to pick a book that he would have shied away from earlier in the year. His handwriting has improved and his frustration with learning new words has improved too. He is better at sounding out the word rather than guessing. I am so proud of how willing he is to read now, it makes our time together that much more enjoyable!”
Sara and the ReadingPals program have given Diago the foundation he needs to succeed in school by improving his reading skills and increasing his confidence in his own abilities.