We’re Reaping!

Hello everyone!  How’s life?  It’s been all about lack of sleep and long hours this week, but something happened last Monday that I just didn’t want to miss sharing.  I’ve been telling you for the past many newsletters, “Persevere, and you will reap your reward.”  Here is a little story to spur you on.

My Stage 3 Class of 2011 just reached a milestone last week.  This class has been with me since August 2010 (they’re a very lovely class!).  We’ve been working on so many things together:  the alphabets and the sounds they make, blending, special sounds, long vowels…

And finally, last week, we saw some tangible fruit of our labour.  Look at this:

He wrote this all on his own!

Not impressive? What if I tell you that the child wrote that without any help, and without memorising any of the key words? (The only words in those sentences that I’ve taught them to know by sight so far are the and a.  One of them already knew how to spell bat and dog from his exposure in kindergarten.) For the first time in my history with this class, I gave them sentence dictation.  They have never done spelling lists in my class, never done memorisation of words, never done any sort of drilling with spelling.  And with the phonics skills they’ve been mastering, they took apart the words I gave them, and put them back together on paper.  On their own. If you’ve never done that with a child, I wish you could.  It is a totally awesome experience!

And I wish you could have seen the look of achievement on their faces when they realised that they were writing sentences.  I was so proud of them!  The delight of the parents was my favourite part.  They were absolutely amazed that their children who seemed so slow with reading and writing, suddenly were able to write whole sentences.

It was a chance for me to share with them how important it is for us to lay a strong foundation for the children to build on, and how important it is for us not to hurry the child.  Development is something no one can control or force—no, not even Amy Chua with her bizarre techniques.  If the child is not developmentally ready to do something, he just cannot do it.  But you wait.  And while waiting, you build his skills intelligently, and you will reap bountifully when he’s ready.  This I can promise with 100% confidence.

No, that class is not ready to graduate for awhile yet, but they have certainly covered a very significant milestone!  I wish I kept a copy of the other pieces of writing they did on Monday—a whole list of 5, 6, 7 letter words (though once phonics is mastered, the number of letters in words is rather irrelevant).  I sent the papers home with the children for the parents to keep and admire.  If I can get my hands on them again, I’ll put them up later on.  I think you’ll be inspired.

So keep building, keep learning how to help them and keep persevering.  It will bring you returns.  And when they do, celebrate each small step forward.  After all, a journey of a thousand miles begins with ONE STEP FORWARD.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this read… even though it comes from a desperately-needing-sleep pen. ;)  Thank you for reading, and all the best to you!

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2 thoughts on “We’re Reaping!

  1. I do agree that if the child is not developmentally ready to do something, he just cannot do it! But I guess that we need to distinguish if the child CAN really do it or he/she is just lazy.

    I know it doesn’t work to compare the child to yourself when you were their age, but maybe (in a way) it can be a guideline? I don’t know, you are the teacher ;)

    Lin surprised me by saying 28 in Chinese! And I wondered if she was learning anything! I guess once the child can flap its wings by alone, they can fly. :)

  2. At the risk of being labelled permissive, I want to ask something: how do we know that a child is being lazy? Is it our perception or do they actually tell us “I feel lazy”? I ask because in my work with children, I’ve learnt something that I think has been key to my students’ learning in my classroom. It is this:

    Children are not like us. In terms of energy and enthusiasm, they have more than twice the amount we have! :) When a children are confident that they can perform a task, they usually enjoy doing it. For a child to be acting “lazy” about learning (I do not speak of doing their chores, HAHA!), there must be something wrong. Sometimes children act that way because the material is too difficult for the child at his level, or the teacher doesn’t make learning enjoyable and interesting. Very often, if you examine the situation, you’ll realise that the reason for a child’s lack of enthusiasm for a subject is a lack of confidence.

    Take Chinese for example. Why do so many children dislike learning Chinese? Epidemic laziness across Singapore? I think it’s deeper than that. It boils down to how they are taught, and what is required of them in that subject…and the fact that too often, they are asked to show results for things they haven’t had enough time to learn! It is sad that often times the education system doesn’t set students up for success. It sets them up for failure by testing them beyond their ability and pushing them to see how far they can go without their teachers. And for those who don’t happen to have an exceptional minds, it backfires! That is so sad.

    Anyway, Lin has a bright future with a fantastic programme that is pegged at the child’s ability to learn, video teachers who do teach the right way and positive support from all of you… right? :) So she should grow up to be an independent learner who loves learning! And three cheers for Lin for knowing her numbers in Chinese! :)

    PS: Whew, I didn’t know this got so long! When I get all fired up that happens, hehe. :D

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