Bartenders today are a popular lot. Most people throng to bars, which offer innovative drinks with interesting twists and names like Singapore Sling or Sex on the Beach – names, which make people sit up! On a similar plane learning too is like a perfect cocktail, a mix of the right material, well-written, easy to read, well illustrated and to–the-point. And it should hit home, straight to the memory!
A child who is challenged with reading, spelling and writing issues should be receiving the right mix of education. As teachers we have to vary our teaching materials and methods when we realize that the child is not responding well to the mainstream education. Of course it is not all about what we teach. It’s also about attitude! We have to see the student and his approach. Recently we assessed an 11 year-old child with severe reading, spelling and writing difficulties. More than any thing else, he came with a completely battered self-confidence, a victim of the insensitive school where no learning took place and parents who in their panic further exacerbated his problems by condemning him as lazy. Result: a child who cowers at the thought of reading and writing activities. So we embarked on an IEP where we decided to bring his goals down to a level where he can tackle his reading material. We got him to the very basics of phonology and started with c-v-c words. Well, the result was that from the next class, he started coming in with a smile and a spring in his step!
But how do we cope with his irate parents who question our back-to-basics approach and feel we should teach him grammar and the curriculum? Sometimes we feel that we are in a war zone fighting with the school and the parents. Why?
Regardless of the chronological age of the child, we have to first focus on the literacy skills of the child rather than the textbooks. First teach the child to read and knowledge will follow, once the child begins to read and write.
So we can provide a variety of activities to interest the child. Short reading material so as not to scare him but a host of activities like worksheets, games, dictation and activities to aid retention and learning. And slowly the situation changes for the better. The child actually starts looking forward to reading. But till such time that the parents notices the change we have to dodge the aggressive parent because we do not want the child to go away. Who said, being a remedial teacher is easy?