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Mentoring Children

Children and youth look up to mentors. A mentor
can make all the difference in the life of a child.

Reading: A Gift That Lasts Forever
by Madeleine Morin Soltis

"Few children learn to love books by themselves. Someone has to lure them into the wonderful world of the written word. Someone has to show them the way!" --A Father Reads to his Children by Orville Prescott.

Children are America's most precious resource. Unfortunately, many are not properly trained to read and lack the skills essential towards becoming a successful adult.

Learning to read is a child's first step towards leading a productive life. Even Bill Gates, the computer software giant, has stated that literacy is the first step. "People cannot become truly knowledgeable without being excellent readers. While multimedia systems can use video and sound to deliver information in compelling ways, text is still one of the best ways to convey details."

Teaching phonics is especially rewarding because children quickly begin to decipher words and increase their vocabulary. Even though phonics is not taught in every school today as it was in times past, most of us can still teach them by drawing upon our own experience as children.

Download Phonograms

Over the years, the literacy rate in America has been dropping, even though we spend more and more money on education. The heaviest decline involves children struggling on society's bottom rungs. This crisis can only be solved if enough concerned people join in the battle for literacy and dedicate some of their time and talent to the future of our youngest generation. No contribution is too small, an hour at a time, a child at a time will make the difference.

Download volunteer Training Manual for Reading Partners in pdf format.

Since last February, I have been teaching children in a program designed for seniors that has brought me great joy. The program, Grandparents and Friends Who Read, was founded by Del and Otto Blauert in Naples, Florida. Three years ago, the Blauerts started an all-volunteer tutoring program at a local elementary school. Today, more than 90 adults are a part of this program, which continues to expand.

The impact on the children can immediately be felt and has long-lasting benefits. Teachers say they see an immediate change in attitude towards learning and an improvement in schoolwork within a month. The Blauerts have found that their contribution helps children with their vocabulary and comprehension as well as their self-esteem and behavior in the classroom. Most of the volunteers are seniors who find it rewarding to watch students grow academically and emotionally as they receive the attention their working parents cannot give them.

Anyone can start a program that will change the lives of children. All it takes is heart and one or two hours a week. The need across America for reading assistance is very great. We need to prepare our children for the future. As we reinforce their learning and support them, they will never forget our simple acts of kindness. As a grateful child once said, "Volunteers are like Hallmark cards. They care enough to send the very best."

Madeleine Morin is an artist who lives in Montana and spends winters in Florida. She is especially gifted in creating children's books and educational materials. Madeleine is the creator of the Gardner Gnome illustrations.


$20 per month pays tuition for child to
attend Montessori preschool.



Her 10-year-old
son mysteriously knew lots of things in school he couldn't remember ever having learned!
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