ALTA Youth Lit – An Opportunity to Shine

i Apr 15th No Comments by

From the time Judith Affoo
trained as a volunteer ALTA tutor in 2009, she has given wholeheartedly to ALTA
and to her students, taking on many roles from tutor trainer and class
coordinator to North Regional Coordinator and Youth Lit Coordinator. The most
challenging of Judith’s roles, and at the same time the most rewarding, is
teaching a Youth Lit class.

In this article and next
week’s, Judith describes her Youth Lit experience. Today she explores her
experience teaching in-person classes, and next week describes Youth Lit in the
Covid era.

The Youth Lit programme is a
collaboration between ALTA and NALIS that started in 2008 for children aged 9
to 15 who need remedial help with reading and writing and whose needs are not
being addressed in the schools. In 2017 the Bermudez Biscuit Company took over
the funding of the programme.

We have classes in 10 libraries
around the country with a total of 12 tutors. I have been a tutor since 2010
and feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work with so many children
over the years.

The children are taught using
the regular ALTA programme for adults but it is tweaked to make it appeal to
children. Tutors keep Youth Lit classes fun. The children we have in our
classes have spent many years in a traditional classroom setting and it is not
working for them. By the time we get them into the programme many have developed
a “can’t do” attitude and feel school work is not for them.

Some have developed coping
strategies such as switching off or becoming the class clown that are not
conducive to learning. We have a mix of students with learning disabilities
such as Dyslexia and ADD. Some are suffering from trauma that makes learning
difficult. The children we get in our classes are the ones who have difficulty
sitting still and who frequently get into trouble in school. So, to help them,
we strive to make Youth Lit different.

Classes are small with no more
than ten students so the children can get individual attention. Tutors try to
create a relaxed environment where the children are free to express themselves.
Talking is allowed and even encouraged as we have group discussions on many
topics pertinent to life in Trinidad and Tobago.

We use a lot of manipulative
learning aids suitable for tactile learners, and games are used in every class
to reinforce what has been taught. The children have a lot of energy so it is a
pleasure to see them putting it into the games and learning at the same time. I
look for opportunities for each child to shine whether it is winning a game,
going up to the board to do an example or reading a piece of their writing.

My goal as a Youth Lit tutor is
to see not only an improvement in my students’ reading and writing but also for
them to graduate from the programme feeling that education is for them.

The children have so many
talents and strengths, but because they are failing in school they feel bad about
themselves. Every session they attend, I try to change that. I give a lot of
encouragement and praise, and what makes it all worthwhile for me is seeing
them smile when they realise they can do this.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a tutor, joining a class, or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email

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