My Child Is a Slow Reader_Part 2

Hi parents and teachers!  You’ve had a chance to think over those questions for a week now.  Any thoughts?

I have a few principles to remember that I want to share; but before I give them to you, let me do a quick recap of what we already know.  First, we acknowledged that your child is not alone.  Many, many kindergarteners all over Singapore are facing the same verdicts:  “slow reader”, “can’t even recognize three-letter words”, “poor literacy skills”.  Second, we pinpointed the reason for our concern:  falling behind when he enters Primary 1.

PRINCIPLES TO REMEMBER

First and foremost, here’s one for you:  knowing where your child stands and understanding his limitations, support him but don’t pressure him. As parents and teachers, we know the big upcoming challenge for him.  We know that in Primary 1, he is going to need to perform on a whole new level.  Naturally, we want to push him to prepare as well as possible for the hurdle ahead… But sometimes, in so doing, we forget that he is just a five year old.  We forget that he is limited because he is still developing both his physical and his intellectual domains.  He needs us to remember that.

break down instructions into bite-sized piecesSecond, whatever you do to help him, give it to him bite-sized. What do I mean?  As adults, we have reached a level of development where we don’t need to think through the details of the things we do.  Not so for children!  Example.  As an adult, you would have no problem following instructions if I gave you a worksheet and told you, “Colour the rhyming pictures blue.  Match the pictures to the words.”  If I were to say the same thing to one of my classes of five year olds, they would be overwhelmed.  What pictures?  Which ones?  How would I know if they rhyme?  How would I know which words go with which pictures? We forget that children have only a fraction of the exposure we have.  They need things given to them at their level.

Instead of that short-and-sweet instruction, I would probably break it down:  “Class, let’s say the names of the first row of pictures aloud together.  Do you notice that two of them rhyme?  Those two sound the same!  Let’s colour them blue.  [Give them sufficient time to colour].  Let’s check what you did.  [Student], which two pictures did you colour blue?”  Do you get the idea?  At this age, children are still forming concepts of the world around them.  You’re introducing many new processes to them with instructions for a worksheet.  But give them time, and by the end of the year, you can say “colour the rhyming pictures blue” and they’ll do it for you without a question!  Key principles when working with children:  GO SLOW; BREAK IT DOWN!

Next week I’ll come back with an ACTION PLAN for you to tackle that hurdle ahead.  Watch for it!

If you’ve just joined us, a warm welcome to you!  Feel free to pick up My Child Is a Slow Reader_Part 1 here.

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