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Afterschool reading program beneficial for local children and NMSU students

An afterschool reading program offered through the Reading and Literacy Center at Myra's Children's Village benefits both the community and New Mexico State University students obtaining a master's in curriculum and instruction.



During an afterschool reading program offered through the Reading and Literacy Center at Myra's Children's Village at New Mexico State University, tutor Violet Henderson, a graduate student studying curriculum and instruction, conducts a shared reading experience with 5th grader Laurissa Bertoldo and 1st grader Assoya Dkirsi. (NMSU photo by Beth Sitzler)

At the beginning of the fall 2008 semester, Koomi Kim, a professor in language, literacy and culture in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at NMSU's College of Education, started the pilot afterschool reading program to accompany her reading evaluation and assessment course in collaboration with Myra's Children's Village, Family Resources Center and Housing and Residential Life.

"I started the program because I wanted to provide real hands-on experience for my students while valuing the partnership with the community members here at NMSU," Kim said.

This semester, the program has about 20 children, from PreK to seventh-grade, that attend every Monday and 10 graduate students that serve as their literacy tutors.

The program is divided into two sections. The first section includes activities and snacks provided by the Family Resources Center. During this time, the children do a writing or drawing activity that they can take home and share with their family. In the second section, the children work with the tutors either one-on-one or in small groups.

"I've learned a lot from being a tutor that I can carry into my career," said Violet Henderson, who is a graduate student studying curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in reading. "It has been a more enriched learning experience than working in an in-service school because the needs of the child come before everything else."

For Sylvia Chavez, a graduate student also studying curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in literacy, being a tutor gives her a chance to work with age groups she hasn't experienced before.

"It's been different working with someone who is in PreK because I teach fifth-grade," Chavez said. "One of my students is 4 years old and the other is 6 years old. It is interesting to see how they grow and make their own connections to things."

Each tutor is responsible for creating their lesson plans that are individualized for each child. After their lessons with the children, the tutors meet together with Kim to evaluate what they did and what needs improvement.

The tutors focus on involving parents in their children's learning experiences.

"Today we are creating recipe books for their parents to form a school-home connection," Chavez said. "It gives them something to talk to their parents about."

Kim said the program also was formed as a way to reach out to the community.

"It is critical to provide more access to literacy programs to the community because we need to value literacy," Kim said.

The Family Resource Center and Housing and Residential Life at NMSU helped Kim advertise the program, which is free to families living on campus and NMSU employees, by sending out applications and flyers.

Hamid Mansouri Rad, coordinator of special projects in the Strategic Initiative Office at NMSU said he entered his daughter Nika, 4, into the program because she liked to read and thought it would be a great opportunity to develop and expanded her skills.

"It's been great. She brings home projects and reads us stories when home," Mansouri Rad said. "I've noticed an improvement with her reading skills. We'll enroll her in the program again the next time it comes around."

Kim said that the program will be offered only when she teaches her reading evaluation and assessment course, which so far is only during the fall semester.

"I would like to have the after school literacy program every semester, but as of now it can only be held in the fall," Kim said. "The parents have been very supportive of the program and are disappointed that it won't be held next semester."

Kim added that any child from PreK to eighth-grade can take part in next year's program but, she is unsure how many students will be accepted since it depends on the number of graduate students in the course.