12 April 2018

The words enthusiasm, encouraging and excitement describe being a reading mentor perfectly. Our job is to be enthusiastic about reading, to be encouraging about the progress they are making and to lift the excitement of jumping into another world, just by opening a book. The quote, “At the back of every good book you will turn the last page and find another chapter" really stuck with me as we did our training day with Mrs Holden. As we went through the day doing different activities and finding new information, I realised that it was now my job to help my mentee to find a good book, learn to read better and also to love it. 

On the last day of term, those who had made it through the interviews to become a reading mentor sat in the library waiting for Mrs Holden, who was coming in to school to train us and to teach us how to assist the struggling mentees with their reading. Mrs Holden was fabulous with her sensible advice! She gave us all a file with information like, '50 Ways to Say Well Done' and a list of 'Speed Reads' which are books that can be read quickly but are also enjoyable. Miss helped us learn how to praise our mentees without being patronising; she really gave us an insight on how we are helping prepare our mentees for the future, as more that 98% of jobs in Britain today need reading skills.

We were given a notebook to write down the information we found necessary for example: how to help them choose a book, how to tell if that is the wrong book for them, how to assist them with homework, how to teach them to spell certain words they are struggling with and how to work in confidence with them. In the morning session and as a group, we came up with the qualities we all think we should have. We said we needed to be: patient, confident, encouraging, understanding, friendly, bonding, enthusiastic, persevering and trustworthy. I really do think these qualities are necessary in becoming a successful and understanding reading mentor.

In the afternoon session we had a practice round. We got into groups of three and took it in turns to be the mentor, the mentee and the scribe who took notes of what the mentor did well on and what they could improve on for the foreseeable future. The things I noted to be a good mentor were: to be warm and welcoming, to let the mentee take the lead but intervene at the right times, to know when is the appropriate time to act informal and formal and how to praise them in a sophisticated manner instead of being patronising or belittling them.

I thoroughly enjoyed this day with Mrs Holden and learnt a lot about the responsibility and rewards of being a reading mentor. Learning how to help someone struggling to read will be an exciting and nervous journey, but one which I really look forward to starting very soon.

By Niamh, 9C