|The following article was written by one of our tutors...|
One of the best things I ever did in my life was to become involved in literacy tutoring. For many years I have volunteered as a tutor for adults, helping them with basic reading, writing and spelling skills. Sometimes it was on a 1-1 basis, but more recently it has been in a small group setting with 4-6 adults at a time .
Adult learners often come with very mixed feelings. They want to be “better” at literacy skills but are often unsure of themselves and so come with hope, mixed with uncertainty and fear. A parallel I always draw in my mind is one that many seniors face when they hit the “magic age!” and have to be re-tested in order to renew their driver’s licenses. It is no mean thing to have to pick up a rule book, study it, and then go for a TEST! So it is with adult learners who don’t read and write on a daily basis. They have learned to cope, on some level, without those skills. However, we all recognize that in the 21st Century more than very basic literacy skills are needed for future employment and productive lives.
One of the greatest feelings of satisfaction is when you see the “light” come on for a student when they understand something they did not grasp before. They smile, their eyes brighten and they stand a little taller. It is a common misconception that people have to be trained teachers in order to tutor adults. You don’t! Everyone has a wealth of experience in their own backgrounds upon which they can draw. In addition, there are great resources and wonderful support from the staff at the Thunder Bay Literacy Group.
My main goal as a tutor is to help students learn enough basic skills to enable them to continue learning on their own and to be able to read and write independently and with confidence. This is real freedom and is the greatest gift anyone can give.