Two sisters 👧 👧 were enrolled in our weekly classes in January 2018. We shall call them elder K (who is 9 years' old) and younger K (who is 7 years' old). When they first started attending our classes, they were both struggling with the English language.
Elder K had already been diagnosed with dyslexia and as a result, she was understandably apprehensive when it came to writing and spelling. Younger K could barely read and was struggling with sight words.
However, by the end of 2018, we witnessed their remarkable progress. Here is the story of their journey with us.
Challenging them without making the task unachievable
Every week, the teachers and I evaluate the standard of the girls' writing. Then, accordingly, I set tasks with an appropriate level of difficulty. Of course, there are times that they would still struggle and need more guidance from the teachers but it is important to gradually increase the level of difficulty and challenge them too. With every level that they reach, the sense of satisfaction becomes greater for them and they are motivated to do more.
Celebrating small successes
When they succeed in spelling words correctly or when they simply put in the effort to construct a sentence by themselves, we will be sure to offer them praise and encouragement. Our philosophy is to reward effort, perseverance and determination- qualities that will ultimately take them further in life rather than just the correct answers.
Tailoring/customising learning activities that appeal to their interests
The elder K, in particular, enjoys arts-based activities. She looks forward to the art making and so, it becomes like a kind of incentive for her to write. For example, she had a lot of fun designing her own superheroine t-shirt and then writing her origin story.
The younger K was engaged when she attempted the activities in the travel writing chapter where she was asked to write about her upcoming trip to Japan and upon her return, she was brimming with excitement to write a postcard to her friend about her travel adventures. Such authentic learning experiences make the writing experience more enjoyable while K was able to practise language skills such as vocabulary use and correct sentence structures.
Giving them ample practice before their school assessments
As they gradually build their confidence and enjoy the weekly classes, it was also important for them to be exam ready.
Of course, they would prefer working on the exercises in their workbook but we stressed the importance of being an all-around good writer in any situation, even under exam conditions. They understood and were cooperative. Their efforts paid off when they showed significant progress (more than 10 marks for the elder K and a good grade in English for younger K) in the End-of-Year exams.
After the exam, elder K also proudly told us that she had written 4 complete paragraphs- a feat she had never achieved before.
Partnership with parent
All this would not have been possible without the understanding and cooperation of their mother. We would frequently update their mother about their progress and learning attitude in class and likewise, their mother would also update us about their learning at home and in school. Their mother was always supportive of our teaching methods and emphasised that the priority was for the girls to enjoy the classes and to boost their confidence in writing and the English language.
We are honoured to be able to teach the two Ks and to watch them grow and develop every single lesson. We look forward to impacting the lives of more students, no matter what their learning challenges are. After all, the two Ks have shown us that persistence and hard work does pay off!
What challenges do your children face and how have they overcome them? Do share them with us!