Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Help Your Child Meet the Challenges of Scholastic Achievement
Can your child read, but is unable to comprehend homework assignments? Are you constantly helping your child with homework assignments?
Your child may be partially illiterate or may not be able to read at all.
With the cash crunch on public schools, a classroom size from kindergarten to grade six has ballooned. Teachers have difficulty identifying poor reading and writing skills among their students until it is too late. Oftentimes the teacher is aware of the problem, and has contacted the child’s home only to find that the parent is incapable of handling their problematic child.
Other times, the teacher may be ignorant as to the real cause thereby treating behavioral problems through disciplinary action. As a result, the illiterate child is avoided and placed with a teacher’s aide caring for more than one student. By the way, most teachers’ aides are not trained in curriculum instruction.
I could go on with all the factors preventing corrective solutions in the fight against illiteracy. The main culprit lies with the “No child left behind policy”. In this system, the partially illiterate and illiterate child passes from grade to grade despite the huge gap in academic training.
What Happens when Illiteracy Reaches High School?
As I have mentioned in a previous article, “The Benefit of Using PowerPoint in a Language Classroom”, middle and high school teachers are often faced with partially illiterate students. When caught early in middle school, parents can help close the gap before their children begin high school. It is not advisable to wait until they reach the secondary level in order to correct remedial reading deficiencies. If you do realize the situation, speak with a school administrator for help. Chances are, the principal may be able to connect you with an alternate government funded program to remedy the problem.
Students must have a good grasp of reading comprehension in order to understand math instructions and the sciences. Secondly, students who are partially illiterate will suffer humiliation if their parents, teachers or peers find out at such a late stage. Be kind. Thirdly, the unprepared student will act out in class if asked to read or answer questions pertaining to assigned work. Acting out is a teenager’s self-defense mechanism to safeguard an embarrassing secret. Reverting to this type of tactic portrays bravado in the light of adversity—the tough individual. In other words, escaping reality via the detention center.
Many students with poor reading skills tend to be very alert and good talkers because they concentrate more on what is being said thus enhancing rote memory. They pick up on verbal cues to cover their inability to read. This is good and bad.
It is good because they make excellent and sometimes convincing speakers: a skill greatly prized in sales. On the other hand, the illiterate student will not be able to pass the driver’s licensing test, nor read a contractual agreement for a job upon leaving school. In the latter situation, one had better have reliable and trustworthy friends concerning financial matters! And if such an individual is driving a car, then it is highly probable that is was done through illegal means.
How do You Solve the Problem?
Start your preschooler to read early. My children were able to read simple phonic books a year before starting kindergarten. They had a repertoire of vocabulary words compared to that of a third grader. They were equipped with strong reading comprehension skills to help them understand simple science and word math problems. Your child can too.
Computers were not the rage back then, on the other hand, I found school supply stores with amazing teaching tools, like flash cards for phonics and the alphabet. Today, many of these supply stores are online. Also chain bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Chapters include education sections and children’s books. I am not saying you should start a school at home, but to expose your preschooler or elementary school child to early stages of learning.
Forty-five minutes a day is more than enough time to prepare your child for school. Don’t push it. Try 30 minutes of games with alphabet flash cards, and then later graduate to 15 minutes of phonics. Know your child’s capabilities and weaknesses, and be very patient. Never scold a child for not understanding what is being taught. She or he may be tired, thirsty, hungry or wants to do something physical. Only you know your child’s moods best.
Read a story after a meal or before bedtime, and make sure the book is colorful with pictures portraying what the storybook characters are doing.
Visuals are necessary to learn nouns and show the action of nouns. Images also help in learning adjectives describing the characters and things in the story. Children being read to will be more apt and willing to learn more. To help parents with this project, I gathered a few of my favorite websites.
Websites to get Parents Started
The following websites have free teaching resources and are made by teachers for teachers. You will find flash cards on the alphabet that you can print and cut up. The first website called mes-english.com includes phonic flash cards, worksheets, videos and games.
Once your child masters phonics, start the child reading basic words. Click on Children’s Books and Free E-books at this site.
If you plan to buy books, I suggest checking bookstores first before buying online so that you may peruse what is available. Barnes & Noble and Chapters have children education and book sections where you can browse through. Do not forget your friendly librarian for free beginner reading books for K-2.
A website demonstrating the Oxford series with videos can be found at the following website along with other ESL online free resources:
Let’s wipe out illiteracy together. Prepare your child for the future. If you do not have a computer, go to the library and ask the librarian for help.