Read and Ride Roundup is a camp offered by the Cheff Center in the summer, fall and winter, targeted to help at risk readers by working with them on their reading fluency.
The summer two, one-week long sessions are available and 18 children are able to attend to each session. First and second graders are the only grades eligible for this camp and have to pay for the program since it is not during school.
During the fall and winter sessions only first graders are allowed to participate in the program. For six weeks, once a week, the students from Richland Elementary go to Cheff Center on Fridays 9:30-11 a.m. to ride the horses and work on reading skills. The program is free of charge for students during these sessions and is completely funded by grants and donations from The Gull Lake Community Schools Foundation and community businesses.
First grade teacher at Richland Elementary School, Karen Koets, started the program as her masters project in 2009.
“The Gull Lake Foundation are the ones who gave this program its start,” Koets said. “I was the first three year, multi-year grant. They paid for the first three years, and then we worked it into a more sustainable program.”
The students are now able to use the time they have at the Cheff Center to play phonics games with the horses while in the arena and read to therapy dogs. Along with their reading skills, the children also advance their horsemanship.
“When they come to Read and Ride, we concentrate on their reading fluency, so that they can read smoothly and at grade level and decode words,” Koets said. “We also work on horsemanship, so they learn to ride horses.”
The program gives students the ability to work on their reading skills by pairing academic based activities with something fun, giving the kids a good relationship with reading.
“The parents really appreciate it, and they see great improvements, not only in the kids reading but in their passion and excitement for reading,” Koets said.
The program has great reactions from the parents and students, which results in positive attitudes from everyone involved.