This was what someone said to me recently as I was updating on her child’s reading progress. I was mightily tickled, because it has never occurred to me before…but it is true!
Until it was mentioned to me, I never thought about it, that I rarely make negative comments when I update parents on their children’s progress. After I had closed up my classes for the night, I had a good think with my supper. I wondered why it was so…it certainly is not intentional that I rarely have complaints about my students! And here is where my train of thoughts brought me…
Why do I have so few complaints for parents?
Am I overlooking something?
What are the things that I consider important to update parents about?
My short soul-searching gave me my answers and landed me on an interesting topic. First, the answers. Yes, my students are normal children with the normal misbehaviours and exuberantly active minds and bodies… and occasional reluctance to put in effort. :) It is a blessing though, that I have yet to come across a student of mine who dreads coming to phonics class (at least, if they do, they don’t show it!). They enjoy coming, I enjoy teaching them and we all enjoy learning together! To me, it must be this way. If my students dread coming for classes, they will not be able to get past the dislike to learn anything…it will not be a fruitful effort. Perhaps this is part of the reason that I have very little to complain about. Also, I expect children to misbehave; I expect them to have attitudes; I expect them to be very active sometimes—it is all part of being a child. So instead of trying to eradicate it, I work on managing it with adequate rest time, interesting learning activities, and a light, happy atmosphere. The result? I don’t have major behaviour problems in my classroom; and I have very little to complain about!
In terms of learning, I never fault a child for not being able to understand or learn something. That is my job—to help them understand and to expand their knowledge. If they don’t understand something I’m teaching them, the onus is on me to try again a different way…maybe to break it down into easier steps…to explain and re-explain and give them a chance to try, make mistakes, and learn from them. Eventually, they get it. In all the months and years that I have taught phonics, I have never had to turn out a failure. They all graduate reading well…so I have no reason to think otherwise, isn’t it?
This is where I my train of thoughts brought me. I learned to read painlessly. It sounds too good to be true, but it is true. I actually cannot remember exactly when I started reading—I just did, and before long, I was devouring books along with my elder sister. And all my students learn the same way. At least 99% of them come to my classes thinking that they are there to learn something Teacher Sue calls “phonics”. In class, they practice sounds, do lots of activities with sounds and take words apart and put them back together. They have no idea that my real mission is to turn them into confident, advanced readers. :)
We build slowly, patiently…till one fine day sooner or later, they start reading…hesitantly at first, then more and more smoothly and confidently. It is always a proud, happy day when I share with their parents that “Your child has started reading!” There! They’ve made it, the painless journey to reading. The journey is not painless for the teacher of course! ;) But what I do, I do for the children. And if they benefit, the cost to me doesn’t quite matter so much.
Thank you for reading! What was your experience with learning to read?