Raelyn’s favorite thing to do during the pandemic has been reading to herself. “She can read, and she will,” said her mother Kaschka Peavy of her 7-year-old daughter, but reading out loud with others just wasn’t happening. Raelyn is attending first-grade classes at Lake Arbor Elementary School in Mitchellville, Md. She’s an older first grader with a late birthday, so she’s a little ahead of her classmates and a strong reader, but during school over Zoom, Kaschka, who works from home, noticed that her daughter wasn’t calling out to read aloud.
“Raelyn has a stutter, but she only stutters when she gets emotional and she gets nervous when reading aloud.” Kaschka said. So, she signed Raelyn up for BookNook through the Prince George’s County Public Schools PGCPS READS program. For Kaschka, reading is more than seeing letters on the page and being able to make the sounds they represent. It’s about knowing all the different ways they can sound, and being confident that you’re saying them the right way in the right context. It’s Raelyn’s confidence in reading that was lagging behind and distance learning only served to diminish it. “It was just something I really wanted her to do. She really needed these two days to give her that extra push and a little more one-on-one time with a teacher,” Kaschka said. The Impact: Raelyn started working with her BookNook tutorsand podmates in November. By the time Winter break ended and tutoring resumed, Raelyn was reading more aloud at home to her mom and calling out to read more in class. Raelyn recently took the NWEA MAP test and on her scores for listening comprehension, phonological awareness, word recognition and picture vocabulary, she is meeting or exceeding expectations. Raelyn’s school teacher is handling a very active group of Lake Arbor elementary students through Zoom everyday. And the ability of the teacher to focus on children who don’t appear to need the help is virtually nonexistent. Kaschka said BookNook has been essential during the pandemic to keep her daughter on or in Raelyn’s case ahead of pace. The only issue Raelyn is having with BookNook, is that she got really attached to Ms. Doreen, her first tutor, and she shifted from her once she started advancing in the program. Her mother said that was necessary because the changes were precipitated by Raelyn’s progress and the need to be placed with children with similar skills. As the month of March opened Raelyn’s tutor informed her that she would possibly need harder books to read in the coming weeks. “Her confidence is getting better; she’s ready to read what’s on the screen, she’s 100 percent ready to participate, and she really loves it,” Kaschka said. “Honestly, for my 7-year-old to get excited about doing school work after the school day is over, and her response makes me feel like I did something good as her parent.”