How to Volunteer with the Illiterate

Literacy Volunteer Requirements

Requirements for becoming a literacy volunteer vary depending on the organization. But most require you to be at least 18 years old, to have a high school degree or the equivalent and to read and write English well.

Having teaching experience is typically not required, since most organizations require their volunteers to participate in a literacy training program before being assigned to a student.

Most organizations ask you to commit to tutoring a minimum number of hours a week for at least six months to a year. You may also be expected to prepare lesson plans, keep a record of your hours, submit monthly reports on your student's progress and attend a refresher workshop once a year.

You can usually choose when you meet with your student, whether it's in the morning, afternoon, evening or over the weekend. Most tutors meet at a public place -- the literacy center or a library, school or church.

To teach literacy, you'll need an abundance of patience, flexibility, creativity and sensitivity to people from different backgrounds and countries. A passion for reading would also be an asset.

In the end, you can find some way to help even if you don't fit the requirements of a local organization. If there are no organizations that can accept you, think of other ways you can do your part, such as helping children read at your local library or school. There are independent options for those willing to pursue them.

You don't have to be a tutor to help the illiterate. On the next page we'll learn about more ways to help.