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posted: 6/7/2013 2:36 PM

Kindergartners practice reading with senior citizens

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Oak Hill Supportive Living Community submission

Five-year-olds learning to read recently got some help from some experienced mentors.

Residents of the Oak Hill Supportive Learning Community in Round Lake Beach read once a month with the children from the Early Education Center in Round Lake.

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The program was started by Early Education Center teacher Lana Ryba and Shannon Wagner, community life manager at Oak Hill.

"Lana and I think this is a win-win program. The kids get mentors who read to them and listen while they read, and our residents get to enjoy the company of children and feel a sense of accomplishment. Actually there is another big win -- everybody has fun," Wagner said.

Oak Hill is operated by Des Plaines-based Pathways Senior Living LLC.

During a recent reading session, 26 excited and chattering kindergartners filed into the Community Room at Oak Hill carrying brightly colored paper flowers they had made for the seniors who were waiting for them.

After a brief instruction from Ryba, they dispersed into activity groups. Some went to tables set up with crayons, colored pencils and work sheets designed to help them print words, spell words and color in line-art characters.

Others curled up on couches with their seniors, presented them with flowers and began reading. If they couldn't read a word or pronounced it wrong, their mentors assisted them.

When the session was over, the kids formed a line and filed out of Oak Hill, waiving goodbyes to their new friends.

"By going on an outing to Oak Hill, reading becomes a treat rather than a chore," Ryba said.

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