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YMCA Reads! Information

The YMCA READS! Program provides free reading tutoring to students at JD Parker School and Warfield School.

Our program has a unique dual focus- service to the community and personal impact on the lives and values of the students. The YMCA Reads! Program is staffed by volunteer students and adults who take on the role as reading tutor. They encourage students to enjoy READING.

In July of 2005, the Florida State Alliance of YMCAs initiated the YMCA READS! Program, created to improve reading abilities among students in low income areas. The program serves kindergarten through third grade students. To learn more about the Florida State Alliance of YMCAs please visit

Program Design:
Students are chosen for participation by using scores i-Ready and prior academic performance as primary selection criteria. Final selection of students will be made based on the recommendations of the school principal, teacher and reading specialist. Confirmed participants will receive no cost child care through the YMCA After School Care Program and two one-hour tutoring sessions per week. The tutoring is conducted by trained volunteers and occurs on a one to one or one to two basis.

The After School KidzLit Curriculum Guide is used to teach the character building exercises for YMCA READS! And which are an integral part of YMCA core values training. The SIPPS (Systematic Instruction in Phoneme Awareness, Phonics and Sight Words) curriculum is used as instructional material to guide learning. Additional activities may be designed in cooperation with school reading coaches, teachers and the YMCA READS! Coordinator. All curriculum will be secular, neutral and non-ideological in nature, as specified in grant guidelines.


Desired Results:
The goals of the YMCA READS! program are to improve participants’ academic development and performance, to increase the number of students scoring higher on the Florida Standard Assessments (FSA) by the third grade and increase scores on the  i-Ready Assessment.  In cooperation with the YMCA After School Program, secondary desired outcomes are to reduce number of behavior referrals and suspensions, improve school attendance, improve attitude toward school, improve homework and class exercise abilities and overall attitudes and behaviors regarding healthy lifestyle choices.

Current Indicators of Success:
As of May 2013, 97% of the students enrolled in our YMCA READS! programs showed some improvement in  i-Ready assessments, in the Fall, Winter and Spring. Parent surveys show 100% results in terms of self esteem in reading. In addition, school issued behavior referrals have decreased 75% since the program’s inception.

For further information about this unique program or to volunteer, please contact our YMCA READS! Director at:

J.D. Parker Elementary in Stuart:  Laurie Heron at 772-223-1606 or

Warfield Elementary in Indiantown:   Brett Quinlin at 72-260-7191 or

Everglades Elementary in Okeechobee: Carlyn  Schaefer at 863-484-0202 or


YReads - KIDZLIT Program

KIDZLIT is an enrichment literacy program that helps children acquire an appreciation for good literature. The characters of the stories are like the students’ themselves: they grapple with important “growing up” issues: what does it mean to be a friend? What happens when adults and kids don’t see eye-to-eye? What does it take to persevere through hard times? 

This program has several steps:

1. Story Introduction Activities to get students excited about a book before reading it. For example, looking at the title and the pictures, and making predictions about what might happen in the story.

2. Reading Aloud: making a story more interesting to the children who listen to it by using intonations, voice, pictures, stopping at strategic places, etc….

3. Facilitated Talk: discussions about the story with deep questions like “Why do you think the character did this? Would you have done the same?”. Checking predictions about the story.

4. “Cool Words” for vocabulary building. Sharing interesting words in the story.

5. Connections: activities that help children make connections between the story and their own experiences. Ex: an art project like drawing your favorite part of the story, or if the story was about something scary, drawing or writing about something scary.

The main goal is to have fun, appreciate literature, listen, speak and think in a safe environment, and respect different cultures and different perspectives.

The program has 5 sets of 10 books each connected by a theme. They are not sequential.

1. Set 1: Books for Young Readers
2. Set 2: Believing in Yourself
3. Set 3: Picture Books Assortment
4. Set 4: Animal Antics
5. Set 5: Spending Time Together

YReads - SIPPS Program  

Goal: Teach children to decode (read) and encode (spell) words, sentences and stories in a systematic, sequential way that makes sense to them. Each lesson builds on to the next one, and children’s are regularly assessed to see if they have mastered one level before moving on to the next one.

3 Levels:

  • Beginning (Approximately Kindergarten-1st grade). At this level, children move from the non-reader level to the first developmental stage of reading, i.e. becoming aware that reading and writing are based on the alphabet.
    They learn about sounds, their sequence within words, consonants, short vowels, and high frequency sight words. They practice fluency on little books that use the sounds and sight words they have learned.
  • Extension (Approximately late 1st grade-2nd grade). At this level, students move from the first to the second stage of developmental reading, i.e. the spelling-pattern phase. They learn more complex sounds like long vowels and blends, and more sight words. They practice fluency on leveled books from the Fluency Library.
  • Challenge (Approximately late 2nd grade-3rd grade). At this level, students move from the first to the third stage of developmental reading, i.e. the polysyllabic/morphemic phase. They learn how to decode words with more than one syllable. They learn syllabication, prefixes, suffixes, root words, more complex phonics patterns. They continue to practice fluency on leveled books.

1. Routines are very important for this program, and must be carried out in the same, predictable way in order to help students internalize learning faster.
2. It is important to properly enunciate the sounds, and to have the children enunciate completely as well.
3. Students are assessed initially, and placed at the appropriate level in the program.
4. After every 10 lessons, they are assessed for mastery before moving on. If some sounds and words have not been mastered, they are given supplemental instruction on those.
5. The sessions are broken down into sequential components for each level.

I. Beginning Level: II. Extension Level: III Challenge Level
· Sight Word Cards
· Spelling-Sound Cards
· 12 Little Story Books

There are 55 lessons, given in the same order: Beginning Level
1. Phoneme Play: – sounds only. No written words blending sounds into words (s…a…t… “What does it say? “sat”); segmenting words into sounds (“dog”: what sounds do you hear? “d…o…g…).
2. Phonics and decodable words: consonants, short vowels, and cvc words (like “cat”, “sit”, “dog”)
3. Sight words: words that don’t follow phonics rules, and must be recognized by sight (“could”, “were”, “there”)
4. Guided spelling
5. Guided Reading: reading new story on chart.
6. Fluency practice on independent reading (learning to read at a more and more fluent speed) in the Little Story Books.

* Ask Director for Advanced Lessons



Children's Service's Council of Okeechobee


 Stuart Macaroni Kid





in partnership with Children's Services Council of St Lucie County