Thursday, September 8, 2011

National Literacy Month – Share Your Time, Talent and Treasure

What are you doing to celebrate National Literacy Month?  Yes, everyone is “for” literacy but just simply being “for” literacy isn’t enough.  There is more to be done and many ways in which to help improve literacy in our communities.

SHARE YOUR TIME
Help a friend, family member or neighbor find a literacy program in his or her community.  Community-based, non-profit literacy programs are free-of-charge to learners.  Trained volunteers tutor children and adults to help them improve their literacy and English speaking skills. 

·         Adult literacy tutoring is usually conducted one-to-one.  This allows the tutor to mold the program to fit the needs of the learner.  This also protects the privacy of the adult learner who may be shy and not yet ready to talk to others about his or her literacy skills.

·         ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) programs help newcomers find a community of their peers where they can learn English together in a relaxed, fun group setting.  Field trips and other fun activities allow learners to test their new language skills in the real world.

·         Services for children and families my include after school homework help and tutoring, summer programs that combine reading with math, science, crafting and even acting, and Family Literacy Workshops where parents and children can attend together to learn about the advantages and fun of reading together as a family. 

Gather with others to start a small book club for adults or children.  Have a buddy system where readers with higher literacy skills can read with, and mentor, those with lower literacy skills.  Make it fun by choosing different genres and don’t forget that putting on an play can be fun!  Increase the fun by asking group members to bring snacks related to the theme of the book you’re reading!

Assist an adult with low literacy skills to complete an employment application, put together a resume, complete medical forms, or read medical or prescription instructions.   These may seem like simple, everyday tasks to you and me, but they can be frustrating to adults with low literacy skills.

Set a reading challenge for your family and when the challenge is met, celebrate by doing something everyone likes to do together!

Volunteer to read to your child’s class once a week or recycle your old magazines and books by donating them to schools, nursing homes or hospitals.

SHARE YOUR TALENT

Literacy programs are always looking for volunteer tutors.  I can tell you from experience that you will be rewarded a million times over for giving one or two hours a week to help someone learn to read or speak English.  Tutor training usually takes a day or two and is conducted in a relaxed setting.  You’ll even make new friends.

Learners who enroll in literacy programs are eager students.  Make a commitment to those eager students and rewards will come to both of you as you reach each new milestone together.   Their confidence and your pride in them will grow with each passing week.

If tutoring is not for you there are other ways to help.  Often, funds are not available to non-profits for advertising.  Spread the word about what the literacy program in your community is doing by posting fliers, sending an email or just telling two friends.  Become a member of the Board of Directors of your literacy initiative.  Fresh new faces and ideas are always welcome.  Volunteer to help with fundraisers.  It can take up to six months to plan and execute a fundraiser.  Remember, many hands make light work.

SHARE YOUR TREASURE

There are many great causes to which we can donate our treasure.  Non-profits help people in the United States and around the world in ways that we can’t even begin to imagine.  Everyone has his or her favorite. 

I’m not lecturing you about why you should give to a literacy initiative, I'm just listing some examples of what your money can buy to help improve literacy skills in your community which in turn can raise the standard of living for everyone in that community.

$2.00    
Snack for a child in a Family Literacy Center workshop

$3.00    
Craft materials for a child in a workshop or at a Fair

$5.00    
A free book given to a child attending an educational fair

$7.00    
A Reader for a basic reading student

$13.00  
A pocket dictionary and 2 children’s books given to a family in a Reading workshop

$10.00  
A Phonics workbook, a dictionary, two children’s books, GED study materials or a spelling book for a new reader

$15.00  
A Volunteer Tutor Instructor Manual or an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) student workbook

$20.00  
Tutor training and materials for one volunteer

$45.00  
A full set of materials and books for one year for a basic reading student

I share here.  Where do you share?  Feel free to leave a link to your literacy initiative’s website in a comment below.

Until next time… stay cool!

Martha






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