If you can’t read, you can’t succeed—in school, in work, or in life. That’s why reading intervention is such a crucial piece of our program mix at Elk Hill. It directly impacts success or failure across every other area, from academics and employability to emotional and physical wellness.
This is an urgent problem for many of the children we serve. Almost half of our children are reading significantly below grade level. We routinely serve ninth graders reading at or below a second grade level, unable to link up sounds and symbols to break down single syllables, let alone tackle longer words. We serve second graders who are unable to read at all.
That’s why Elk Hill developed a reading intervention program baked right into our schools and summer camps. Our masters-level reading specialists identify children in need of intensive remediation, tailor individualized instruction to help them catch up with their peers, and help provide comprehensive literacy support for the entire program through coaching and workshops across all instructional areas.
What does it look like when a child sits in a classroom for six hours a day without being able to read at grade level? It looks a lot like “D.”
D's academic performance was so bad his teachers assumed he was completely illiterate. He was chronically absent. When he did make it to a class, he usually slept through it.
When he arrived at Elk Hill Charlottesville, our literacy specialist put that assumption to the test. Initial screening revealed D simply needed to catch up enough to make academic effort rewarding. Embarrassment and failure had been stifling his motivation. D was given vocabulary exercises to build tools for tackling polysyllabic words, and tailor-made reading assignments to improve his fluency.
But technical tools weren't enough. D needed a spark. He was interested in hunting, so our specialist built a personal connection to the material around his hobby.
That’s when things really started to click for D. At a recent IEP meeting, his other teachers said his motivation is through the roof – not just in reading, but across all the material. Reading was D’s gateway to success. Once that door opens for a child, attitude and aptitude can completely transform.