Reading Pilots: Three Years of Success for Struggling Readers!

Who Are Reading Pilots?
Reading Pilots are students who struggle to read at grade level. Their parents are anxious and frustrated that their kids are not keeping up with their peers. They know their kids are smart, and they can’t figure out why they’re not learning. Parents know how essential reading is to future success, and they worry that their children are falling behind and losing their potential for success at school.

Children who struggle to read show poor self-esteem, negative self-talk, dislike of school, regular tummy aches or headaches, and often refuse home reading support.
What Causes Reading Problems?
There are many reasons that children may struggle to read. First, there could be specific reading disabilities such as dyslexia, lack of teaching or incorrect teaching methods, lack of practice, and now, inconsistent attendance as schools open and close in response to the pandemic.

The pandemic has, unfortunately, has made all of these factors worse than ever. Students aren’t getting continuous, consistent reading instruction. They and their teachers may have to be in isolation now and again, meaning that children regularly receive different instruction from different instructors. There is strong evidence worldwide that the current K-3 cohort is lagging significantly in reading skill development. School boards around the world have yet to figure out how to deal with this reading gap. It is frightening because we know that children who do not read at grade level by the end of grade 3 have a much bigger chance of dropping out of high school. The danger is even worse for children who were already struggling to read.

How Do Reading Pilots Create Success For Struggling Readers?
The primary goal of Reading Pilots is to increase reader confidence and develop a sense of fun in learning to read. We create confidence by finding children’s reading strengths and building on them. At the same time, we are aware of their reading weaknesses and create lessons explicitly directed at developing skills to strengthen those areas. Why fun? Because we know that if children think reading is fun, they will incorporate it into their own lives. That is what makes a reader.

We teach children the structure of reading, so they always know if they are working on decoding, fluency, comprehension, vocabulary or stamina – and they understand why. Once children understand the structure of reading and what parts are easy or hard for them, they become more engaged with their work.

We teach children specific reading strategies that they can apply to their reading now and in the future. We expect that they will use their newfound skills in their reading at home and school. We want them to continue to progress as readers long after they’ve finished Reading Pilots, Reading Pilots parents are responsible for reading daily with their child and making it fun. Parents are coached in specific strategies that they can use at home to make reading with their child fun, enjoyable and keep it progressing. Books and passages that young Reading Pilots have nearly mastered go home for children to show off their progress to their parents. Games based on the reading skills a child is learning go home, too, so families can play together while their child is learning.

Quotes from Parents:
A dad after two lessons:
“Those reading strategies really work. They are amazing!”

A week after the first lesson:
“Our daughter is already much more confident, fluent, and so happy to do the reading together! I’m really enjoying the strategies too! She’s even more willing to read her school reading books now. Thank you!”

Reading Pilots Sounds Wonderful! Is It Magic?
Yes, it is wonderful! But, no, it’s not magic. The strategies and techniques we use are founded on current best practices and the ‘Science of Reading.’ We follow the work of renowned reading gurus like Louisa Moats, David Kilpatrick, Mark Seidenberg and others who have years of teaching experience and years of published research. Then, we pick and choose the strategies most important for each of our students and make sure they are comfortable using them. So, no, it’s not magic. But, it’s even better – it’s real.

Who staffs Reading Pilots?
Our instructors are usually education students or psychologists. Reading Pilots instructors are dedicated to helping our young Reading Pilots build confidence and progress as readers. In addition, they are invested in learning more about the intricacies of reading instruction. The instructors will take the valuable skills they use at Reading Pilots to their classrooms eventually.

The coordinator for this program brings years of experience as a Resource Teacher and a Specialist for Learning Disabilities. This experience enables her to create appropriate programming for each child and provide support for Reading Pilots instructors.

Quotes from instructors:
“I have learned so much as a Reading Pilots instructor.”

“Reading Pilots is the best part of my week.”

“It’s so rewarding to put what I’m learning at university into practice.”


When And Where Does Reading Pilots Happen?
Reading Pilots lessons are ten weeks, once a week for 1.5 hours when we can meet together in the CanLearn Office. Lessons are Tuesdays or Thursdays after school hours. Currently, we use lots of PPE: plexiglass screens, masks, ‘handitizer’ (as one of our young Reading Pilots labelled it). If the pandemic laws have us close the office, instructors meet their Reading Pilots online for 45 minutes twice a week. We began putting the program online last spring as a necessity. Much to our surprise and delight, it worked very well for the children. They demonstrated excellent progress and seemed to enjoy the online venue.

When Is The Next Session Of Reading Pilots?
The next session will begin Tuesday, September 7 or Thursday, September 9. Spots for Fall Registration are filling quickly. To ensure a space for your child, enroll before the August 27 deadline. Lesson start times depend on when a child finishes school for the day and how long it will take to get to the office. We try to be flexible to meet each family’s needs.

Is There A Cost For Reading Pilots?
CanLearn is a not-for-profit organization, so Reading Pilots is run on a cost-recovery basis. The fee for ten weeks of lessons is $1500. However, there are some funds available for families that cannot afford the cost.

How Can We Register Our Child For Reading Pilots?
Call our Reading Pilots coordinator, Jody Wood, at 587 439-3646 or email her.