Partners to Potential is an after-school tutoring program designed to help seven to ten-year-old children improve their reading while also helping them develop socially, emotionally and spiritually.
Long Island Youth Mentoring uses its credibility within the communities in which we already work to establish partnerships between elementary schools and churches. We offer our expertise and program design to the church. The church then owns and runs an effective ministry to children in their community who are limited or delayed in reading.
Christian volunteers commit to spending one afternoon a week from 3:15 – 5:00 p.m. for one year. During the weekly meetings there is a group playtime, reading time and snack time as well as a one on one reading time with the child and the tutor. A Bible storybook is part of their curriculum.
Tom is ten years old and repeating the third grade this year. Tom could not read beyond a first-grade level. Tom explained that it was hard for him to concentrate in school last year, because all the kids were running around and some cursed out the teacher on a regular basis. He also shared that the other children make fun of him because he has been left back. ‘They call me dumb and tell me I’m stupid but I just say that I needed to learn more.’
Tom began his tutoring in reading. Immediately, it was obvious that he had a desire to learn as he put a great amount of effort into remembering all he was taught. Tom had always been labeled by his inattention, but during his one-hour tutoring time, he demonstrated a great degree of concentration.
A couple of months later Tom was reading everything in sight (books, signs, labels, etc.), getting 100%’s on his spelling tests and telling everyone reading was his favorite subject.
All it took was someone willing to give a little bit of time, a lot of love, some undivided attention and a great deal of praise and encouragement.
According to her Youth Mentoring Match, a typical day with Amanda goes as follows: The school bus arrives, the horn toots and Amanda is the first off the bus. With all her might she runs through the door, not stopping as she drops her backpack on the floor. All is perfectly timed as she runs into her tutor’s arms. She then begins to either dance, sing, roll on the floor or burp, making her presence known to the other children and tutors who begin their time together a little earlier. She eventually settles in and usually accomplishes all the homework she has brought with her.
One day Amanda had a hard time remaining focused and completing her work. It was eventually discovered that Amanda had a name calling bout with one of the other children on the school bus. Her tutor attempted to speak with her about the incident by telling her she seemed as if she was hurt. She corrected her and told she was not hurt but rather she was angry. She also made it clear that she was tough and never cried.
Amanda struggled through the reading worksheet, making error after error and then said, “I can never do anything right.” Her tutor responded, “That is not true, but sometimes when we are sad and things go wrong, we feel that way.” The tears began to fall.
Amanda and her tutor continued and completed the worksheet at her own insistence. Amanda learned a lot that day, particularly that she has a friend who will help her work through the tough times in her life.
*The names of children and families have been changed to protect their privacy. Photographs are for illustration only and are not connected with any of the names or stories.