The purpose of Leap Frog is to complement classroom phonics learning. So, program leaders consulted with the Barksdale Reading Institute at the University of Mississippi in 2017 to choose a formal curriculum. Working with Marion McBride, Really Great Reading‘s Phonics Boost was chosen. Phonics Boost helps students focus on building awareness of sounds letters and letter combinations make and manipulating those sounds. Called “phonemic awareness”, it is the building block to reading and spelling success.
Volunteer Cassie Dabbs, a retired schoolteacher, adapted the curriculum to our volunteer tutors and our time constraints. Each lesson is broken down into smaller chunks that take advantage of children’s smaller attention spans and includes fun, engaging elements.
Students begin the tutoring hour with a snack, then move on to the Phonics Boost lesson. Working one-one-one with their volunteer tutor, each student completes one or more phonics lesson. Each lesson contains several opportunities to practice and manipulate letter sounds. Tutors adapt each lesson’s pace depending on the student’s ability to understand and master the material. If the student quickly masters the material in a lesson, they will move on to another. If the lesson is challenging, the tutor will slow the pace and ensure the student understands before moving on.
Once the Phonics Boost lesson is complete, they turn their focus to homework, spelling, and vocabulary words. The session wraps up with reading books from our large library.
The goal of Leap Frog is to help improve our students’ reading skills. While the structured one-on-one tutoring is a large part of that, building a love of reading in Leap Frog participants is also important.
As such, students read with their tutors following their phonics lesson. Tutors also read to their students, modeling reading fluency and inflection. They can choose reading materials from our large library. Each book in our library is leveled by grade using the Accelerated Reader program used by Oxford Public Schools and Lafayette County Schools. This ensures our work builds upon classroom work.
Play is important to a child’s development and an essential element of the Leap Frog program. Therefore, the 90 minutes following tutoring and homework is for free play or special enrichment programs.
Our goal with free play is to get the children active and outside, weather permitting. They engage in cooperative play activities with their peers and volunteers.
Additionally, Leap Frog partners with many community groups and organizations for enrichment programming to enhance learning, expand social understanding, or promote wellness. We work with the University Museum’s monthly Traveling Trunks program and Small World Yoga for bi-monthly optional yoga sessions as well. Other special programs include a Dr. Seuss party hosted by KPMG and Ole Miss accounting students, dental and pharmacy groups delivering healthy habits messaging, and Coaching For Literacy engagements.