#MyReadingHelper – Meet Roger & Thimna
20 January, 2018
Roger Vestey has been an avid reader since he was a child. “I read the entire series of ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’ under my bed covers with a torch for some light”, he said. Knowing the delight that reading at a young age can bring, Roger signed up as a Volunteer Reading Helper after learning about help2read at a local bookstore. “My decision to volunteer was based on the fact that I loved reading as a child”, Roger explained.
Roger assists learners at Bay Primary School in Cape Town and has helped 20 children learn to read since he first started volunteering in 2009.
“Over the years, I have witnessed my learners experience many different challenges and I love to see the delight on their faces when they realise and identify their own improvement”, said Roger.
In 2017, Roger began assisting Thimna, a Grade 3 learner at Bay Primary. Thimna joined the programme with a very low literacy level. She lacked confidence, struggled to sound out alphabet letters, and battled with phonics and comprehension. If learning to read wasn’t difficult enough, Thimna also faced the challenge of learning to read in her second-language, English.
Through consistent one-on-one reading sessions with Roger, Thimna’s reading has drastically improved. “Since spending time with her playing lots of games and doing shared reading, she has gained so much more confidence and she loves reading now”, said Roger.
Thimna even feels smarter thanks to her reading session with Roger. “I love reading because I have learnt to pronounce words properly and you do get a little bit smart”, said Thimna.
Thimna’s teacher even noted how much she had progressed in her reading, grown in confidence and improved in her subjects.
For Roger, the secret to successful Reading Sessions lies in making them interactive. “I like asking Thimna questions about the book that we are reading and in doing so she better understands what she has read.”
Like many of help2read’s volunteers, Roger enjoys using games to engage with learners, including Thimna. “My favourite game to play with the children is UNO, and I always allow them to beat me at it, which the children absolutely love”, said Roger. “UNO helps to build confidence, enhances their communication and the colours and numbers get them all very excited.”
As consistent, caring and committed individuals, Reading Helpers often become a source of support and comfort for their learners as their relationship grows.
“Sadly, Thimna lost her father last year, leaving her very sad”, explained Roger. “Thimna and I have developed a very close bond and the sessions have impacted positively on her ability to process the loss of her father. It seems that a void that she has felt has been somewhat filled.”
When we asked Thimna to tell us about her Reading Helper, Thimna also noted their special bond. “I like my reading sessions and get excited to read with Roger. Uncle Roger is really very nice to me”, she said. “He is special because he helps me with my reading when I struggle.”
Having a dedicated Reading Helper, like Roger, to champion Thimna and encourage her as she learns to read has made a huge difference in Thimna’s reading, self-confidence and attitude.
“In comparison to the sessions at the start of this year, Thimna has developed into a confident, self-assured, well-spoken little girl”, said Roger. ‘I am very proud of her ability to always try.”
Give the gift of reading. Sign up to volunteer as a Reading Helper today.
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