TRC Read to Kids

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Monday, November 4, 2013


What is that special something that enables a person to survive and sometimes even excel under challenging circumstances? What factors or resources strengthen or bolster a child? The September 2013 issue of Educational Leadership explored the concept of resilience and its role in learning.
A study described in the issue, Resilience and At-risk Children and Youth, explains that resilience has two parts: "1) An exposure to great risk; and 2) Corresponding factors that help promote positive outcomes or reduce negative outcomes." (p. 3) At-risk children, like the kids TRC serves, often experience multiple risk factors. When these factors occur together, they multiply the behavior problem. For example, "children in families that had accumulated two risk factors showed a more than fourfold increase in behavior problems" when compared to families with one stress factor. (p.4)

In the same issue of Educational Leadership, Nan Henderson’s article, Havens of Resilience, describes protective factors that help kids develop their resilience. The author created a graphic, the Resiliency Wheel, that represents the resiliency-building conditions that have been identified through research.

 Nan Henderson's Resiliency Wheel
from Educational Leadership, September 2013

According to Henderson, the most important environmental protective factor is providing caring and support. The other five factors grow out of it.

The structure and content of TRC's Read-Aloud program provide several protective factors that help kids weather challenging situations. 

At the beginning of each Read-Aloud, volunteers set and communicate high expectations and also set clear and consistent boundaries when they remind kids about TRC’s Promises (Listen, Respect, Cooperate and Have Fun). Consistently reminding the kids about the Promises and enforcing them every week helps the kids know what to expect and reduces their stress.

Every time a volunteer asks a child for his opinion about a story or encourages her to choose a book to take home, the volunteer is expressing his perception of the child as a reader, another high expectation.

By taking the time to ask questions, listening to what kids say about the books being read aloud and providing engaging activities, volunteers create opportunities for meaningful participation and teach life skills.

Getting to know the children and encouraging positive interaction with their Read-Aloud peers increases prosocial bonding. Meeting weekly throughout the year creates a community of readers that cares for and supports each other. This social aspect of the Read-Aloud experience helps kids feel connected to other readers in their neighborhood and to the reading community at large.

The hour each week that TRC kids spend at a Read-Aloud supports their growth as readers and provides them with a positive, consistent, engaging environment that fosters their resilience. Reading with volunteers provides a healthy escape from stress and creates a supportive, caring community that the kids can count on. TRC's Read-Aloud program helps kids become frequent and passionate readers, but it also does so much more in the process.

Nan Henderson, Havens of Resilience, Educational Leadership September 2013, Vol. 71 No. 1, pp. 23-27.

Jan Moore,  Resilience and At-Risk Children and Youth, National Center for Homeless Education, April 2013.

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