From failure to success
When my son was five years old, I had many complains from the teachers of his K2 class. He was born in December making him a year younger than his peers. The teachers would always complain that he could not spell, he hated to read and he was too playful. I was disappointed, afraid and angry. I did not have the time. I was working full-time. Then, I was a Head of Department of English Language churning out a good 40% distinction every year and at home I was a failure, with a son who could not spell and hated reading. What an irony!
I decided to take a bold step, I enrolled in a course to learn phonics, Jolly Phonics by Ms Victoria Carlton. I learnt a lot about pronunciation and most importantly the fundamentals of teaching young children, to ensure they learn though play.
Then, I started reading. I read many different online articles. Ordered many books from Amazon and continued reading. I had to find a solution to the problem. By then, my son was already in Primary One and his spelling test marks were disappointing.
The problem here is that it was demoralizing to him, it was disappointing to me and I felt worse because as a teacher I was good at my job but as a mother I was a failure. I still had not found the solution.
Finally, I decided to throw everything else aside- my pride at being good at my job, my feeling of being a failure as a mother and my eagerness of finding a quick fix. I sat with my son, looked at the spelling list and decided to try one method I had read.
- Step 1 : write the word on a piece of paper (done by the adult)
- Step 2 : child traces the word using his index finger and says the word at the end (repeats actions 3 times)
- Step 3: child then uses a different piece of paper and writes the word down and verbalize it at the end
- Step 4: child repeats steps 2 and 3 if the spelling is wrong and continues with the next word if spelling is correct
Interestingly, it worked for him and he started to gradually improve his spelling grades. No, not full marks but it improved gradually till he started getting them all correct. Most importantly, his confidence improved and he started learning the spelling words on his own thereafter. Till today, he reminds me about the many different methods we had tried before chancing upon this one.
My learning from this:
- realise that there is a problem
- discard who you are and what your capabilities are
- discard your expectations
- see the child's problem as a real problem (do not minimalise it)
- understand that there is definitely a solution, try as many as possible until you find it
- remember that results will not be immediate
Children do learn in different ways and we should try our best to find a style that suits them!