I work with many struggling young readers. For most, the daily focused work, along with the excellent teaching of the classroom teachers, is enough to give them the little boost they need. They may never catch up to their peers, but they certainly make gains.
Yet there is one little boy who I work with each day that makes few gains. It’s not that he’s not trying. It’s not that I’m not trying. Despite continual repetition and the pulling of strategy after strategy out of a hat like a magician, he cannot retain what we are teaching.
He does not know the alphabet: he is in grade two. The letters are a huge road block to his success. Reading is difficult when you don’t even remember the first letter of your name not to mention all of the others.
His frustration is reaching new heights. He’s no dummy. He sees those around him with access to the written word and he hangs his head in shame. The tears come too sometimes.
My frustration is mounting too. Not with him. With myself. Why can’t I find the key to unlock the door for him? The various keys I have used with many others over the years are not working for him. It is exciting to see the eventual glimmer of hope or the moment when students walk through the door of the literate. He and I haven’t had that moment yet. One day soon I hope…