Giselle is 6 years old and is in Ms. Jackson’s first-grade class at Oakdale Elementary School in Waukegan. When Giselle started the school year, her reading level was significantly below her classmates.
From kindergarten through third grade, successful readers learn the skills that enable them to understand and find meaning in written text. Children are learning to read in early elementary years and, by fourth grade, they are reading to learn. Studies show that most students who are not proficient readers by fourth grade will continue to remain behind throughout their entire educational career.
In order to help Giselle get on track with her peers, Ms. Jackson enrolled her in United Way of Lake County’s Reading Success program. The Reading Success program improves literacy skills to ensure all students can read at grade level by the end of third grade. The program targets Waukegan elementary students, kindergarten through third grade, who are unable to read at grade level. United Way of Lake County engages and trains community volunteers to tutor students, giving them individualized help to
increase reading proficiency and skills.
Each week, Giselle’s tutor, Sue, visits the classroom to work one-on-one with her to build new reading skills. Ms. Jackson also watched Giselle buildconfidence through weekly tutoring. “The Reading Success program has given Giselle more confidence when she reads aloud and I see a big change in her reading fluency, as well as being able to engage in conversation about the text she has read.”
With the help of her tutor, Giselle made tremendous progress throughout the school year. Ms. Jackson reported that, by the end of the year, Giselle's reading level was where first graders aim to be midyear. “This program was definitely a big plus in helping me get Giselle where she needs to be.”
Today, Giselle loves to read. When asked why knowing how to read is important, Giselle answered, “When you grow up and go out to get a job, you can understand what you are supposed to do in that job.” When Giselle grows up, her dream is to become a doctor so that she can help little kids.
Through Reading Success, Giselle is building the skills she needs to reach her dreams.