We recently challenged our Masakhane students to set up and run their own reading clubs in their local areas. We have been amazed by the enthusiasm and talent that they have displayed since starting these clubs.
Many children have decided to voluntarily lead as many as 3 reading clubs a week in their spare time. All of the clubs have been very popular with children and the largest club has recorded as many as 54 attending.
We thought that the early successes of these student-run reading clubs merits a bit of reflection from our Masakhane students.
Here’s what they had to say about their experiences so far:
What do you do at your reading clubs?
We sing songs, play games, and we tell stories. We get the children to introduce themselves and also to tell stories that they know. We give them books to look at and read, we help them with their homework and we let them draw and colour.
Why do children come to reading clubs?
They come because they want to learn to read English and Xhosa, they enjoy colouring, to learn to write their names, and to learn to count. They enjoy the songs and games we play.
Why do you think reading clubs are important?
Because they help children to read and write, to have help with their homework. It makes community better because people are coming together and helping children to learn. It is important that children can speak some English words and talk in front of other people.
What are the problems that children have learning to read and write?
They are too busy doing jobs and chores to have time to learn.
There are also not enough books at homes. Some parents do not know that education is important so they don’t worry if their child is not at school. If the parents do not think that school is important, they will not read them stories.
What do you enjoy about leading reading clubs?
I enjoy being the teacher. I like to teach without needing a (adult) teacher to help me. We enjoy playing with children because we can see everyone is happy and when we are in reading club everyone is only thinking about being happy, not worrying about things. When we are teaching we are also learning more knowledge, when we are sharing our knowledge we are also remembering our knowledge.
What are the challenges with teaching?
There are many children so we have to make sure there is not too much noise when we are telling stories. Some children want to be unkind to other children, so we have to make sure children are happy. It is challenging to always be encouraging and fun for the children.
Do you feel proud of your reading club?
Yes. We feel proud because we see that they improve one step at a time. They improve with their reading and they enjoy coming. We are also proud because we started with 30 children and now we have 40 or 50 coming to our club.
What have you learnt from being a reading club leader?
At reading clubs I have learnt to tell stories to children without being afraid.
I have learnt it is important to be patient with the children and to help those who are listening well.
How will you get children to come and keep coming?
Ask parents nicely to let you teach their children and sing songs with them.
Some parents are proud that their children will learn some English at our club.
You can also encourage the parents that the children are doing well in the reading club so they will keep sending them.
Be kind to children, tell them they are welcome, when they leave tell them it was nice to have them even if they gave us problems.
Be funny, if you tell them funny things and they laugh a lot they will want to keep coming back.
What preparation or training do people need to run one?
If you want to run a reading club you must have at least 2 stories to tell the children and teach to them.
You must learn how to treat children with kindness, and to know that you don’t need to be nervous and shy.
They must learn about reading for enjoyment and they should be trying hard in their work and school themselves. Then they are a good example for others.
What resources do you need
Picture books like Nal’ibali’s
Books for writing
Lego (if you can get it)
What support do you need?
Someone to give you the resources that you need.
You need support from the children’s parents to also read and tell stories at home if they are going to learn quickly.
You need to see a good story teller so that you know how to make it fun and exciting for children.
Please feel free to leave a comment with any words of encouragement
for our Reading Club Leaders