Educate Arkansas: AR Kids Read Literacy Tutors

As seen on KTHV The Vine.

Founded in 2012, AR Kids Read is a non-profit organization that provides volunteer-based literacy intervention to elementary students who read below grade level. Program director Rebecca Wills is here to tell us more.

We went through this with my daughter for a very short time, and now she's where she needs to be. At the time, I thought it was the end of the world. It’s very stressful, but with some of these tools, you can work on these skills.

Absolutely. And you're right, sometimes it takes a lot of work. Every kid has that ‘ah ha’ moment at a different time, so it may be that one kid is struggling for a while then suddenly all the pieces come together.

There are different things that we can do as parents. Can you share some of those tips?

There are a lot of things you may have lying around your house that can help your kid with these early literacy skills. A lot of us have Legos lying around the house - maybe you've stepped on them even. You can take your Legos and a dry-erase marker and have your child work on building words.

As an example, they may have a-c-t so they can spell “cat.” Then you can take away that “t” sound and put a “p” and suddenly they have “cap.” It's a fun way that's a little different than holding up flash cards. Plus, this way they're practicing those letter sounds and really helping to build those foundational literacies.

It's all about finding a way that they like to be engaged and that they like to learn. A lot of times it’s just making it fun, so they pay attention. Utilizing those multi-sensory activities really helps the skills stick. Especially when they’re doing something with their body and putting those Legos together.

That is so great. So, tell me about AR Kids Read’s Literacy Tutors program.

We are currently registering for our volunteer reading tutors and we would love for anyone to join us. We don't usually have Legos at the school - this is something you can do at home - but we do have a lot of similar multi-sensory things the volunteers can utilize at the school.

We ask our volunteers to commit one hour per week. Each week, you will work with two students on these foundational literacy skills. You listen to them read and build a relationship with them. We have 23 sites throughout Little Rock, North Little Rock, Jacksonville and Pine Bluff. We would love for you guys to join us.

It's not a big commitment, but it's a lot of fun. And the benefit of being a volunteer is you're not their parent and you're not their teacher - you're someone in between. You’re there to practice with them and to help them feel a little more comfortable.

What age students are you tutoring?

We provide tutoring to first through third grade. So, our volunteers either go into a school or an after-school site to do these one-on-one sessions. You'll have two students for the entire year, so you'll really get to know them, and they get excited to have you come each week.

Where can people find out more about the program?

Go to our website, Click on ‘Volunteer,’ then select your site. We do a background check and then ask that you join us for a 1.5-hour training. After that, you can get started.