Lately, it’s been quite frustrating teaching Ben. He seems unfocused and is having trouble learning how to read. His memory also seems to fail him at times, and all these has gotten me pretty worried.
I’ve always known him to be someone with excellent memory. I mean, are you kidding me? This boy can rattle off the names of the characters in Mike the Knight just by watching one episode, can remember all the promises you made him and which day he gets his privileges. When he was in childcare, he knows everyone’s names in his class (English, Chinese and first names) and is the only in school who could at three years old.
I seriously don’t think he’s got bad memory.
What I think is the problem? Selective memory, methinks, especially when it comes to what he wishes to remember in academic learning.
For example, he can be writing a simple word 15 times in his jotter book and still not be able to spell the word immediately after. Every day, after kindy, when I ask him to tell me one thing he’s learned at school, he would have problems recalling. Sometimes, he would even make it up. But I am his mother, and I know the look in his eyes whenever he’s not telling me the truth. So I’d call his bluff, game’s over, and he would have to try harder to recall at least one thing he’s learned. It’s a brain exercise I make him do every day without fail on the bus. I just don’t get it – he remembers what he had for lunch in school but just can’t tell me ONE thing he’s been taught! Perhaps he wasn’t paying attention in class. Which could also explain why he doesn’t remember.
It gets even more frustrating when I try to get him to read. He’s already learned to blend words using the phonics way and has also learned to read some words by sight. Sight word reading has also been quite frustrating to teach so far. And far too often, when left on his own to read a book, he gives up quickly, closes the book in haste, and declares he doesn’t know how to read it. We’re talking about graded readers here, not some encyclopedic collection explaining the workings of the universe and the properties of matter. Some of these graders have been read and reread to him over months! I know he’s just hoping that when he says ‘I don’t know’ that I’ll read it (again) to him. Which I do. I never passed on an opportunity to read to my children. In fact, I have explored the 50 ways to help a child learn to read! Oh trust me, I have done them most and more!
Just last week, Ben brought a book (a graded reader for his level) home from the school library and we read it together, just like any new book we get our hands on. I taught him the new words in the story (about a family wanting a new dog) and he attempted reading it several times. All was good except that he just couldn’t remember that the boy in the story was called ‘Kipper’. We tried all sorts of ways to make him remember – blending the word, repeating it (almost) a hundred times – in the end, everyone, even Becks knew the boy’s name. Everyone but Ben. Whenever we asked him for the boy’s name, he would say ‘Kim’ or ‘Kimper’. By the third day, I was yelling, “KIPPER!!! HIS NAME IS KIPPER!!!” every time we came to that word.
The new word in the book was ‘Kipper’ but he couldn’t seem to remember it. I think I was more frustrated than he was.
I know it’s all in the training and I am teaching him to have a positive attitude about learning so as to overcome his selective memory. I also try to make learning as fun as possible, but sometimes it’s hard to get by without telling him harshly the importance of being serious and focused. And I definitely need to work harder in my patience department, that’s for sure! If you have any comments on how I can help my child, I’d be glad to hear from you.
Till then, I’m going back to good old simple readers to be read consistently and frequently, and have ordered what I know that has helped thousands of children, me included, all over the world:
Good ol’ Peter and Jane. He’s going to have to start with Key Words with Peter and Jane, the classical way of learning how to read and write. No more fanciful ‘Kipper’ readers for now.
I am glad to be able to stay home and observe the way my children learn, and discover their strengths and weaknesses. If I were to continue working full-time, these little things would probably go unnoticed. I’m glad for this opportunity (thank you, fatherkao), and am praying for wisdom every day to help the kids learn and realize the fullest of their potential.