What do our volunteers do?

As a volunteer reading mentor, you will work with up to 3 children individually, spending half an hour twice a week with each of them at their school. You will support them in developing their reading skills, helping to build their confidence and motivation. Please read this volunteer role description for more information.

We will provide you with training and on-going support so that you can help the children to develop these vital skills for life.

Who can volunteer?

To become a volunteer all you need is to:

  • Like children
  • Enjoy reading and believe in the importance of literacy
  • Be patient and adaptable
  • Be 18 or over
  • Be a UK resident
  • Be fluent in English and be a competent reader
  • Have 1½ hours twice a week, preferably in the afternoon

If this is you and you would like to volunteer, please complete the Volunteers Application Form.

How do volunteers help children?

An ABC to read volunteer will:

  • Talk and listen
  • Share books
  • Explore other kinds of reading material
  • Play games
  • Make things, draw and write together with the children

The most important thing is that the children feel happy and successful and can start to think of reading as something they enjoy.

How we support our volunteers

We are here to support you by providing:

  • Initial training sessions
  • An introduction to the school and regular visits for advice and support
  • Books and games, with opportunities to exchange them
  • Time to spend with other volunteers
  • Opportunities for further training
  • Reimbursement of travelling expenses

If you enjoy spending time with children and want them to gain one of the most essential skills to succeed in life, then please join us.

You’ll make a lasting difference to a child’s life

Reading is essential in today’s world.  Unfortunately many children struggle to learn to read for all sorts of reasons – 1 in 8 children in England left primary school last year behind in their reading.  By becoming a volunteer, you’ll give a child the one-to-one attention they need to build their confidence and help them catch up with their reading.  You’ll give them a chance to learn at their own pace and adapt the sessions to suit them.

It’s rewarding

Seeing the progress the children make and knowing you’re making a difference is highly rewarding.

You’ll give something back to your local community

As you’ll be working in a local primary school, supporting children near you, you’ll get to use your skills and experience to help give something back to your local community.  Being an ABC to read helper is a great way to get involved.

You’ll develop new skills and make new friends

Becoming an ABC to read volunteer is a great way to develop your communication skills and knowledge of the education sector.

You’ll have fun

You are encouraged to make the sessions fun to help build the child’s confidence.

What does ABC to read training include?

Our 9 hour (over 2 school days) initial training sessions aim to give our volunteers the confidence and basic skills to help children who are struggling with reading, for a variety of reasons. The course is highly interactive and uses a range of activities to help prospective volunteers understand how they can help children learn to succeed at and enjoy reading.

The topics covered include:

  • Being a good volunteer – the qualities required
  • Why some children don’t learn to read
  • The importance of speaking and listening skills, rhythm and rhyme, sharing stories and other pre-reading experiences
  • Exploring and reviewing picture books
  • Some strategies for helping children
  • The importance of praise
  • Supporting children’s reading – role play exercises
  • Reading comprehension and asking open questions
  • Safeguarding – not a replacement for Level 1 training but general information, advice and guidance specific to the role of ABC to read volunteers. (We do also run occasional Level 1 courses specifically for our volunteers, or signpost them to other locally provided courses. Some schools invite volunteers to join their own in-house training too.)
  • The importance of games and a chance to try some out
  • The National Literacy Strategy – what it is and some ways reading is approached in schools.
  • Phonics – how initial sounds are made
  • Planning sessions – hints and tips for different children
  • Health and Safety and practical information about being in school

Following successful completion of the training course, volunteers are accompanied on an initial visit to their placement school by their ABC to read Fieldworker, where they will meet their link teacher, complete all necessary paperwork and usually have a tour of the school. They may also meet the children they will be working with on this visit.