“One Day I Woke Up and I Could Read!”

Today I was busy re-assessing children in order to get individual education plans drawn up for them. My last assessment was a boy who has been with us for 2 years and has struggled bravely with learning difficulties. He could hardly sound out a 3 letter word when he joined us and scored 4 years below his correct reading level.

Imagine my delight when I found out the deficit is now only 2 years! I delightedly told him of the huge improvement and this is what he commented. (He is almost 10 years.)

“Vicky, I remember when I couldn’t read at all. I came to ICE to learn and it was fun but reading was still really hard. Then one day I woke up in the morning and found I could read. I could sound out the words and they made sense!”

This was really his perception. No gradual learning- just transformation! I listened to him- delighted but astonished and we discussed how the pieces of the jigsaw had been gradually coming together but only recently did he experience the actual completion- the whole picture!

What strikes me is that children often do not really understand they are making progress until the transformation is almost complete. They don’t necessarily feel the pieces coming together until they touch and it is then they can feel the joy and satisfaction of reaching their goal! This is why so many children want to give up on the extra work involved in the remediation process. As educators we must encourage, nurture, cajole, push, insist and simply refuse to let them give up till the process is complete and yet this is exactly what many parents cannot do for their children.

Who can really blame them? They love their children and hate having to watch them struggle, yell, scream, lose their tempers and appear frustrated with all the hard work around the hard work involved in a major “catch-up”. I am realising that as we enrol children with major learning difficulties, we need to give huge dollops of support to their parents. After all they have to work with their children on a daily basis- seemingly for little reward. And yet, the recovery process happens quietly and gradually and not much can be seen on the surface. The roots of this process proliferate until the network is sufficient for the lights to go on and the magic happens. We who work with the magic must prepare the ground and make sure everyone involved is warned about what will probably happen. it is ALWAYS worth the struggle. As I spoke to this child today I noticed his pride, confident voice and how he seemed taller and more sure of who he was. Could there ever be a better profession than teaching? I doubt it!

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