Andrea Latendresse (left) and her son River Bourns read with Rhonda Smith (centre) and Fathom Gathergood and daughter Lyra Merrick at the Golden Early Years Centre.

Infant development worker spends spare time reading with kids

It is never too late or too early to develop a love of reading. That is what CBAL volunteer Rhonda Smith believes.

It is never too late or too early to develop a love of reading.

That is what Rhonda Smith, who has been working with children almost her entire adult life, believes. That is why after working as the Golden Infant Development Co-ordinator, and giving as a School Board Trustee, she continues to volunteer her time to youth as a one-to-one reading tutor with the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL).

“I started working as a lifeguard with the YMCA in Vancouver when I was a teenager,” said Smith, recalling where her work with youth began. “Then we were living in Parson, and my daughter was four, and I realized there wasn’t much in the way of an after school program…So I started a play school.”

She ran the school for seven years before moving into the position of infant development co-ordinator in 1988.

Fostering a love for reading is very important to Smith, which is why she takes an early lunch once a week to tutor with CBAL’s one-to-one program, a program that gives young students some extra help with their reading skills.

“Getting excited about books is so important,” said Smith. “And with this program I always see progress. I start students off with a book that they’re comfortable reading, and make them feel good about themselves. Then we move up from there.”

Reading isn’t everyone’s favourite subject at school, but Smith says she is always happy to see how much the students enjoy the program.

“They’re always excited when I’m there, there’s no pulling teeth. It makes it fun for me too, and I really get to connect with the students,” she said. “Success is when a child is reading for pleasure.”

Smith also recommends that others try out the tutoring program, which she says is a very rewarding experience. CBAL’s co-ordinator Monica De can provide information about the program. Contact her at mde@mail.cbal.org.

“Literacy is so important. Even adults still need to be able to fill out forms and such,” said Smith. “It’s never to late to learn.”