Friday, November 13, 2009

Life Skills

Children with learning disabilities function at many different levels in math and/or reading. During 3rd hour I take three lower functioning students to another room and work with them on basic reading skills. Two of these students (Dave and Hailey) have positive personalities and are hard workers; the third has low self esteem and "shuts down" at the snap of a finger when feeling the least bit challenged. This third child is a boy previously referenced in an earlier blog entry -- Vince.

Typically we work on sight words (for example, "I, am, were, because..."), vowel sounds (short a, short o.....), and blends ("bl", "ch", "sw".....). All three struggle with certain words, and I'm not sure why. "Were" is THE word they cannot remember. Every day we review it and the next day they cannot remember it. "Another" and "write" also prove difficult.

Vince and Hailey are mainstreamed in science and social studies where they learn about geography, countries, cells, periodic table and such, but neither Jeramie nor I think they understand what they are to learn. We believe they can benefit from learning life skills, so besides teaching basic phonics, I am teaching some life skills. Another teacher provided us with resource materials, and yesterday we did our first activity. I gave Vince and Dave (Hailey was at chorus) a note card and asked them to write their names, addresses, and phone numbers on it. Neither knew their addresses. Dave did not know his entire phone number. (Checking with Hailey later in the day revealed she knew all the info)

Okay, this was discouraging. The next hour Jeramie looked up the info for me, I wrote it on note cards, and today I had them fill out an pretend contest entry form. The instructions said $100,000,000 was the grand prize........Vince wanted to know if this was for real. Alas, no, but should he ever wish to enter a contest maybe he will have a better chance since he now knows how to fill out a form. Since they had the address info. in front of them the addresses were no problem, but Vince did not know how to spell his father's first name, and Dave wrote Mom and Dad in the blanks for "mother's name" and "father's name." I clarified what was needed --- he then asked me to spell their names.

Not sure how they got this far in life without knowing this info. but we're remedying the lapses. Next week we're going to spend some time on this and reading simple maps. The low skill levels of these children can be disheartening, but we are hoping that learning some basic life skills will ease their way into a highly competitive world.

3 comments:

Cheryle said...

One of these days I'll tell you about my almost-4-year-old grandson, who is a real prodigy. The contrast between him and these youngsters you work with is as vast as the universe, and it makes me so sad for them.

Thank you for the work you do, Holly. I know it must be frustrating at times, but you may be just the person who can made a difference to them.

Blessings to you, my friend!

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