Not long after this post is up and being read, I will be at the local elementary school reading with the Literacy Council. It’s something that is near and dear to my heart. I am a strong believer in literacy and that you should never stop learning. It keeps our brains healthy and active, which is very important in warding off mental deterioration as we get older.
What do I do with our literacy council? I show up at 8am and have a child that I am designated to read with all school year. We pick out a book, sit in the cafeteria and read it several times over, working on comprehension, pronunciation, etc. Then I quiz on the content of the book we have just read. If I feel like they are able to answer my questions well enough we take an AR (Accelerated Reader) quiz.
People don’t realize the need for volunteers to do this exact sort of thing. School systems everywhere are strapped for funding and what we do is necessary.
Because no matter how much a teacher gets done during the school day, if it is not being reinforced at home, then there are problems. So many children don’t receive the attention they need at home regarding homework. There is less and less emphasis on literacy, reading and doing well in school.
Also, with the End of Grade testing that students are subjected to, they are forced to move as quickly from one subject to the next as quickly as possible. What was once an elementary school curriculum is now best thought of as a funnel team competition with students guzzling down as much of the learning objectives as they can, as quickly as they can. There is little room for practice and repetition that is necessary for children to be successful
And since children seem to get less and less practice, reinforcement, and direction at home, the school has to take over a quasi-parental role hoping to make students and parents more accountable for their education. This is a role which schools are simply not equipped to handle. This is something we all need to keep in mind when we think about what schools can/should provide to their students. Think of the extensions to this role: guidance counseling, sex education, and the like. In my mind, these are all areas where the parent’s views should be paramount. But if the parents are too reluctant/uncomfortable in doing their job, who else is left to do it? Because the alternative is to not provide any guidance to these children and instead of celebrating the kids who do well, we’d bemoan all of the kids doing poorly because their parents didn’t care enough or are too scared to do their jobs as parents – to do the right thing.
But in the meantime, I’ll keep volunteering and I’ll keep working with kids. And I’ll do it one kid at a time.