Reading Buddies program helps students at 11 Waterloo schools - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Reading Buddies program helps students at 11 Waterloo schools

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

For the last five weeks, Kayla Winders has visited Highland Elementary in Waterloo. Kayla is in her first semester at Allen College. She's one of several Allen students participating in the Reading Buddies program, which is designed to help children get better at reading.

"I get to see the kids do better each day, and as the weeks go on they do better as well," said Kayla Winder.

Research shows reading aloud improves fluency and comprehension skills for children.

Teacher Trish Carlson said working one-on-one helps boost a student's self-confidence.

"First grade is a very foundational grade level for children to learn those skills. As they get older and go on to those upper grades, they're able to take those with them. So starting now is definitely the foundation," said Carlson.

Most volunteers with Reading Buddies visit one classroom for one hour each week.

But the Allen College Students are a little different. This semester, 14 Allen students visited first, second and third graders for about three hours each week as part of their course work.

"They get excited every time we come. They raise they're hand, they want to be the one to get taken into the hallway and read," said Winders.

Some of the Allen students enjoyed being part of the Reading Buddies program so much, they plan to continue volunteering with the students outside of their college course work.

Right now, 165 total volunteers visit 11 elementary schools in Waterloo. All the Reading Buddies volunteers listen to the students read, help the students learn new words and work on sounding out words.

"You can just see their self-esteem rise," said Kayla Winders.

Studies show children who read daily do better in school and have fewer behavior problems.

Teacher Trish Carlson said volunteers make a big difference in the classroom, and the Reading Buddies are preparing her students for a life of learning.

Reading Buddies is always looking for more volunteers. It requires helping students with reading for one hour each week. If you're interested in learning more, contact Julie Ehlers at 319-433-2026.

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