What is the Wildcat Buddies Reading Program?

If you have questions about Wildcat Buddies or the School Psychology Graduate program at CWU please contact Dr. Heath Marrs, Program Director.

Wildcat Buddies is a tutoring program designed for Kindergarten and first grade students needing early reading support.

During Wildcat Buddies your child will be paired with a graduate student in the school psychology program at CWU for individual tutoring and support. Graduate students (tutors) will provide a reading assessment and dyslexia screening as well as weekly tutoring through the spring quarter. Additional support during summer may also be available.

With the significant disruptions of the past year due to the pandemic, many children have missed out on important opportunities for language and reading experiences with teachers and peers in the school setting. The goal of Wildcat Buddies is to help address any learning gaps that may have resulted in the past year so that children are on pace for positive reading and language development.

When is it offered?

One weekly 45 minute tutoring session will be scheduled, with various options throughout the day and early evening available. Tutoring will take place in the Psychology Building on the CWU campus. Safety protocols regarding COVID are in place, with tutors and buddies required to where masks and adhere to other practices (such as handwashing). Due to the size of rooms, students and tutors will be at least 6 feet away from other students participating in the program. If families need fully virtual sessions due to safety needs, these can be arranged. A family member would be needed to assist your child during the virtual session.

In addition to the once weekly sessions, materials will be provided so that parents or caregivers can provide additional practice opportunities during the week. Consistent learning opportunities provide children with the best chance for mastering key skills. Coaching and support for parents and caregivers will be offered throughout the program.

The program is tentatively set to begin the week of April 12 to 16 and run until June 4. Support and consultation for continuing interventions in the summer will be available if desired.

What is a typical session like?

Tutors will engage with your child in a fun activity and also work through reading lessons from the Sound Partners intervention, which is an evidence-based intervention for struggling readings. Tutors will work with buddies on phonological awareness (the sounds of language) tasks, blending and segmenting sounds, letter-sound matching, writing, and beginning reading.

Additional information about Sounds Partners and research evidence supporting effectiveness is available here:


What does a home session look like?

Good learning happens when practice is spaced out over time rather than in one long session. Sound Partners has been carefully designed to provide children with practice opportunities for key skills spaced out over multiple days a week. As a part of the program tutors will provide families with materials for short practice throughout the week. Tutors will also provide training and support. WIth the pandemic many children have missed out on important daily interactions with teachers that reinforce key skills; the Sound Partners intervention will help provide those interactions to help support learning.

Where is the program offered?

Sessions will take place in the Psychology Building on the CWU campus. Parking in the lot outside the Psychology building is free after 4:30 pm each day. If sessions are scheduled before 4:30 parking passes will be provided.

How do I sign my child up for Wildcat Buddies?

To sign up for Wildcat Buddies or if you have questions contact Dr. Heath Marrs at Heath.Marrs@cwu.edu or call 509 963-2391.