Learn to Read, Read to Learn

“Listen to what the children try to say and show us.”

Let’s just say I met a little boy last September. He was 11 and unable to read. He absolutely could not sound out CVC words (dog, hot, bat, sit).

He was very aware of his difference and this resulted in tears quite often when he saw others around him were able to do the things he couldn’t. Each time it all became too much we would have a little comfort chat away from the crowd, he would pick himself up and just keep trying.

The resilience is what struck me… his self-determination to change things.

Lately, I only see him online. He has new books. I was super happy to see this but a little part of me was wondering whether the books he was showing were still a little out of reach. Pfft, who cares…he seemed to love them anyway.

He told us one day during a social Zoom that Amazon was due to deliver a parcel to his house. He was very excited. Sounded out of context at the time. Later I found out the parcel was his new books arriving. Nobody knew at the time that he was trying to tell the world he’s ready for books! We were too busy thinking that the mention of a random Amazon delivery served to be humoured rather than celebrated.

During comprehension tasks I ask for volunteer readers. I ask for those who haven’t read yet to read. The enthusiastic readers can often hog the limelight. Learning support made a very courageous suggestion that the 11 year old might like to read. God my heart skipped a beat. All I could think of was ‘headlight’.

However, without making that suggestion said 11-year-old would never have had the opportunity to show us all just what he’s made of. He jumped at the chance. He’s an absolute star. The 11-year-old read an entire paragraph. Beautifully. There were a couple of tricky words which tripped him up but he sounded out and did not for one single second lose his confidence to continue.

My heart exploded.

In just one term his life is changed forever.

Special education!

Sian Jones is a Special Needs Teacher in South West London.

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