Research shows that kids who read well are more likely to succeed in life. Unfortunately, the 2023 Kids Count report indicates 70 percent of fourth graders across the state of Texas are not proficient in reading. Understanding the significant value reading has on long-term student success, Kids Club has designated reading as a key component of its program. Staff and volunteers come alongside students to help meet their reading needs. One student, Jaelynn has grown leaps and bounds since coming to Kids Club.
Claire Peterson, Kids Club program coordinator, said when Jaelynn first joined Kids Club in second grade, reading was challenging. When it came time for reading activities, Claire said Jaelynn would sometimes throw things, confirming reading was not a pleasant experience for her. Program staff used a gentle approach to give her the time and space she needed.
A variety of techniques were used to help Jaelynn overcome her reading anxiety. Claire said she would decide which technique to use based on Jaelynn’s mood and whether she might be overstimulated.
“We took her outside and used a stick to draw letters in the dirt. We used playdough and magnetic letters on the white board – we just tried to make it fun,” Claire said.
As time went on, Jaelynn’s trust grew. In her first year, Claire said Jaelynn would only practice with her, and in her second year she would work with a program coach.
“This year she would go with a reading buddy. She would sometimes tell them ‘I don’t want to read today, but can you read to me?’ But that is valuable, too, because then she could follow along,” Claire explained.
Throughout Jaelynn’s time at Kids Club, volunteers and staff built a foundation of trust and remained steadfast with their efforts to help Jaelynn succeed. Jaelynn has grown tremendously this year, and her reading skills keep improving.
“We didn’t pressure her, so she was able to blossom and grow in her own way. She trusted us to not make fun of her or push her too hard and that we would do what was right for her,” Claire said.
Praise God for working through the Kids Club team to show Jaelynn His patience, encouragement and love.