I just had the most amazing experience.
About two months ago, I was hired to teach a five-year old girl English. She knew only the alphabet song and could not recognize the letters or their sounds if they were put in front of her.
I started slow. Every class, we would sing through the song while she followed along on a sheet of paper with the letters on it. We practiced the sounds over and over. Soon, she was able to recognize the letters except for the more difficult ones like G, Q, and W.
Last week, I brought in some worksheets to teach her how to blend the sounds together to make words, and she picked up extremely quickly. After just one worksheet, she was able to spell out and blend letter sounds very well, and she had her alphabet list next to her in case she could not remember the letter or its sound.
I was so impressed with her progress that I brought a Bob Book with me today to class. Bob Books are early-learning stories that use clever story-telling techniques to help children learn how to read and identify sight words easier and in a more interesting way than other story books. The Bob Book I brought for her was from the Rhyming Words collection, which uses words with the same vowel sounds in each story to encourage long-term memory.
Needless to say, she was anxious about trying to read a story so soon after learning her letters, but I was confident that she would succeed.
To my utmost delight and exuberance, she did exactly that. After the first couple practice rounds of sounding out the words, she was on a roll and would not be stopped. She predicted what would happen in the story, used context clues to help her figure out what harder words were, and ultimately finished the book with an exclamatory “The End!”
This is most certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I taught a little girl how to read for the first time. I will never forget this as I make my way into high school education.
If you ever get a chance to do anything that will positively change a person’s life forever, don’t hesitate. These chances are too few in number to pass up.
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