Literacy in Kamloops moved its One to One tutoring to a virtual platform this year with the support of the provincial organization and had 18 tutors reading with 18 students, twice a week.
The goal of the program is to build confidence and have fun while practising reading.
Program co-ordinator Cami Klohn recruited and trained the volunteers for the first-ever virtual program, made necessary due to the COVID-19 pandemic and association gathering restrictions.
The majority of tutors are older — some are university students and others are people with a love of reading who want to get involved in their community.
“A lot of our tutors were really intimidated with virtual training and being online and learning new things, but they came away with so much,” Klohn said.
“It was such a great experience for the kids and the tutors.”
Many were older adults, so they had to master the technology first and get over their fears.
Then, Klohn said, it became more of a family affair as they were “visiting” their students at home.
Lynn Vicars was among the group of tutors that stepped up to meet the challenge.
She was on her fourth year of tutoring in schools when the pandemic hit, visiting schools one day each week and tutoring three students for up to 30 minutes each.
For Vickers, the shift to virtual tutoring was a steep learning curve at first, but after switching from desktop computer to an iPad, the workflow became much simpler to navigate during her one-on-one sessions.
Using the online platform Zoom and the digital reading platform Epic!, Vickers met virtually with reading student Dylan Steele, a Grade 2 boy who loves critters.
Vickers began planning their reading times together by researching books on those very critters that sparked Dylan’s interest in reading.
It didn’t take long for Vickers to understand what he liked.
“I just knew he loved science, so we do lots of things on bugs,” Vickers said. “He really likes insects, snakes, scorpions and spiders.”
She noted Dylan is great at sounding out his words, breaking them done into chunks or stopping at a page and telling a story of his own.
Dylan’s mom, Anna Steele, decided to homeschool Dylan after making the move from the Lower Mainland, having worked as a school teacher herself.
Of the subjects she works on with Dylan, he doesn’t fight doing math or science, only language arts.
“He’s just not into it,” Steele said. “So anything that we can find that makes him excited about doing that is just awesome.”
That interest extends into artistic endeavours, with Steele saying Dylan recently drew a picture of a giant praying mantis eating a person.
“He’s been really enjoying the science,” she said.
Dylan will be heading back to a brick and mortar school in the fall.
“He’s a little sad that it’s coming to an end, so it sounds like Lynn and him will do a couple of little meets every couple of weeks, just to touch base and to read together [through the summer],” Steele said. “He’s really enjoyed reading with her.”
His mom is hoping perhaps he can join a reading tutor program in the fall and maybe even connect with his newfound online reading buddy once again.
For more information on Literacy in Kamloops and all the programs it offers, click here.