I work with a little one each day who continues to be a puzzle. Even after this first term of grade one, when those around him are learning to read, he struggles to learn the letters of the alphabet. The only letter he could identify a few weeks ago was the letter x. Until recently he didn’t even know the first letter of his name. This after much repetition, multiple modes of teaching and learning, games, activities and more repetition.
I continue to be hopeful to see some progress. Yet daily, my heart breaks when I realize how confusing these letters and words and this business of reading all seem to be for him. I don’t think he could formulate these questions, but this is what his face suggests: What? Letters have names? And sounds too? I don’t know what that squiggle is, why do you keep asking me?
Though he is not diagnosed with any specific disorder, it is evident that learning is going to be a challenge for him. Some students catch on to this idea of literacy with ease. Yet my daily work with this boy reminds me that the ability to read is truly complex. In some ways it is miraculous that any of us can make sense of these letters on the page. The students I work with tend to be the ones whose experiences with literacy have not been especially positive and who haven’t yet figured out how all the pieces of the puzzle come together.
I can tell you though, when it happens, when those pieces do begin to fit together, the rewards are priceless.