CRESTVIEW Assistance pays off in reading success

Some kindergartners are struggling with letter and word recognition.
COLUMBIANA -- There was a time when you couldn't read.
Then, suddenly, you knew.
Dick and Jane ran.
Spot chased the big red ball.
You learned to like green eggs and ham.
Some youngsters are voracious readers at an early age. Others, however, have difficulty.
Last year, nearly 100 volunteers helped 35 first- through fourth-graders at Crestview Elementary to improve reading and writing skills as the district launched its HOSTS reading curriculum. HOSTS stands for Helping One Student To Succeed.
Thanks to an additional OhioReads grant, about 30 kindergartners will receive assistance this year.
The district received a $60,000 OhioReads grant last year for a two-year program. This year, the district received an additional $30,000 from OhioReads to buy HOSTS materials this year and next for kindergartners.
How it works: Superintendent John Dilling said the HOSTS program uses volunteers to work with elementary pupils who struggle with reading and writing skills.
Nancy Tompkins, coordinator of the HOSTS program, said kindergarten pupils will be tested beginning next week.
Those selected for the program will work with a mentor 30 minutes each day on concepts such as letter and word recognition, memory and perception, and motor skills.
She said part of the kindergartners' testing involves motor skills because if a child's motor skills are not developed as they should be for their age, they could have difficulty reading.
Tompkins said the HOSTS program for first- through fourth-grade pupils began in late September with 32 pupils and about 90 mentors.
This year, some of the teachers are giving up planning periods to mentor students.
"This gives the children a boost," she said. "They see their teachers in a different way. They feel good about the teachers wanting to spend extra time with them."
Tompkins said a child who improves in reading generally has improved self-esteem and, consequently, better classroom performance.
She said teachers surveyed last year said HOSTS pupils gained confidence and were less afraid to ask questions in class when they didn't understand something.
Tompkins said expanding sessions for first- through fourth-grade pupils from 20 to 40 minutes has already made a difference.
"They are not so rushed, and their writing skills are already much better after just a month," she said.
More details: Pupils chosen for the HOSTS program are those who test below their grade level in reading skills, Tompkins said. All of the pupils involved in HOSTS last year improved, some by as much as two grade levels, she said.
XFor more information about HOSTS or to be a volunteer mentor, call Tompkins at (330) 482-1912.