What’s in an hour?

An hour may not seem like much—let alone enough time to change a child’s life. But at New Haven Reads, our tutors prove otherwise, each and every day. Last year, the cumulative effect of hour-long tutoring sessions included across-the-board gains in reading for every single child we serve. About three in 10 of our students leveled-up in all areas of reading.

In the words of one volunteer, Stacy Spell, committing one hour a week brings the opportunity to “make a difference in our society, and in the life of a child.”

Spread across four sites in New Haven, our dedicated tutors advance the joy and power of literacy with hundreds of students each week: all below grade level in reading, and the vast majority from low-income homes. In the span of 60 minutes, tutors help students as they work on literacy software that tracks their progress and challenges them to new heights; complete educational exercises in phonics, grammar, and reading comprehension; and read aloud from books of their choice.

Thanks to generous community members, our programs don’t cost families anything—but the value taken away is immense. It wouldn’t be possible without volunteers, and there’s no better time than now to join the New Haven Reads family. The start of a new school year means the start of a new tutoring season, and in the course of three days last month, we had already registered nearly 400 students.

Ever wondered what it takes to volunteer with us? No one is better suited to answer that question than tutors themselves, and that’s why we asked them to share their wisdom. Here’s what they had to say:

Worried that you’ve never worked one-on-one with a student before?

“Once you get started with one student, it comes very naturally!” – Chelsea Chaug

Don’t have a background in education or literacy training?

“New Haven Reads had the materials, the strategy, and the steps to follow. It was very easy and very welcoming.” – Mary Barnes

Nervous you won’t be great at tutoring right away?

One volunteer says they wished they’d known that tutoring takes some time to perfect—but it’s gratifying from the start, and it’s OK to sacrifice a little bit of tutoring time early on to make sure that your student likes and respects you.

What else did our tutors wish they knew before they started?

  • It’s easy to apply, and New Haven Reads provides the training!
  • It’s thought-provoking and fun to read with students and discuss books together.
  • Things won’t always go as planned, but there’s no need to be discouraged.
  • It’s OK to ask for help and recommendations when you need them!
  • It’s addictive.

Want to see for yourself? Learn more about volunteering with New Haven Reads and apply today!