In the Classroom

Ever since Ane started preschool, I’ve always tried to volunteer in her class when the opportunity presented itself.  Since I’m not helping in Tad’s class this year, because they don’t have enough kids who need assistance during swimming lessons, I’m just working in Ane’s class.  The last two years, Ane has had the same teacher, and I brought Rerun along for her kindergarten year (after he was born) and until he was an absolute nuisance in her first grade class (which was when he got to be a year old).

So this year, I managed to squeeze in some volunteer time while Rerun is at Grandma’s, going down for a nap, in the afternoons on Mondays.  Along with another mom, we are working in the class during reading and writer’s workshop.  Ane’s teacher, Mrs. B, has the kids assigned into groups by their reading ability, and they rotate activities during the hour that I am in the class.  I ended up with Purple group in my second rotation.  Purple group is made up of two kids in the class, Bridget and Christian.  If there are kids who are struggling more with reading and writing in the class, it would be because English is not their first language.

After I realized that they were having so much trouble, I started bringing the iPad into class and letting them use the same apps that Tad does, like Word Bingo and the interactive books.  They love the technology, naturally, and look forward to working with me.  But I always leave the class heavy-hearted after working with these two kids.  It’s March, and they are reading nowhere near grade level.

To put this in perspective, Tad – who is a very young first grader and will probably be held back at some point to repeat a year, who is autistic and and is in a special education program – is a better reader than Bridget and Christian.

I know that one of them, at least, is getting reading support help a couple of days during the school week.  But I’ve been working every week, aside from vacation days and when I was getting my gallbladder diagnosed, since November, and I really don’t see a great jump forward in their skills.

It worries me, because I have no idea what will happen next.

I don’t know what their home lives are like, and I don’t know what the level of parental involvement is like.  I think both kids are bright enough that with focused application and a real push, they could start making some progress.  I really don’t think either of them has cognitive or behavioral issues that will keep them from learning.

I honestly wish that I could volunteer to work with them on a more regular basis, but I know that I can’t.  I have a full plate already between the three kids I gave birth to.  But if these were my kids, and they were struggling like this, I would be working them like crazy to get them up to grade level.

I work with Tad, day after day after day, getting him to therapy sessions and giving him opportunities to learn and books and my time, all to get him to be a more interactive human being while tapping into his natural ability to learn.  He keeps surprising me with what he has done in reading.  After the blood, sweat and tears I’ve poured into him, I know what can be achieved with a child, even one with a disability, if they possess the raw tools and cognitive ability to learn.

I know these kids do have those tools to learn.

I really hope someone, anyone, cares enough to make them work and learn and progress.  Because I can only spend 20 minutes a week with them, and that’s not enough.

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