How Hiking Makes You a Better Reader

In addition to tutoring our students twice a week, SDRT takes multiple field trips outside of City Heights throughout the year. These field trips make our kids smarter in more ways than one.

Up until yesterday, climbing up a steep hill, admiring a shiny lake from a distance and spotting a red-tailed hawk soaring through the air were experiences that kids had perhaps only read about. Yesterday, though, these experiences came to life. They lived them. Our students will forever have these connections in their brains as they read thousands more books. They have now slipped on a downward trail full of small pebbles. They have listened to rocks plop into a large body of water. They walked on a fishing dock over a stunning lake surrounded by mountains. The words they read will have significantly more meaning now that they can connect them to the real world- to real experiences they’ve actually had. Those words they used to skip over like, “roasted marshmallows,” unamused by the long words with no meaning attached? They tasted those yesterday. A new vocabulary word we taught? “S’mores!”

Building background knowledge is something that happens naturally for many kids with privileges. This automatically makes those kids better readers. Visualizing what one reads is easier. For kids with less opportunities, reading can be much harder. It is very difficult to imagine something you have no context for. One of our goals at SDRT is to keep building our kids’ banks of experiences so they can transfer these ideas to what they are learning in school and in books!

At the end of the long 2.9 mile loop, looking down at her uncomfortable yet fashionable boots and laughing out loud, Ehdaa, a third grader originally from Syria, exclaimed, “I didn’t know what hiking was! That’s why I wore this outfit!”

Mission accomplished. She knows what it means to hike.

“I didn’t know what hiking was! That’s why I wore this outfit!”

Ehdaa, in her fashionable non-hiking boots!

If you didn’t get to join us on our 2.9 mile sprint, I mean, hike, yesterday, we hope you will join us this weekend at our next outing: Ice skating! We would love as many skaters on the ice helping out as possible. RSVP now.

About Melissa Phillips

Melissa Phillips is one of the founders of San Diego Refugee Tutoring and currently serves as its Program Director. She has four incredible children, many years of teaching experience, and a supportive husband who also works in education.

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