Sunday, June 10, 2007

kidsREAD is about kids having fun reading

kidsREAD is about kids having fun reading. What else can be simpler?

Do we need to be experts before we teach?
I used to think that to be a volunteer and to work with children, you need to come armed with a degree or diploma in early childhood education to that you do not teach the children the wrong things. Yes, it's important to know what you are teaching, but it's more important to approach the whole idea of working with children from the right perspective.

Children have great learning capacities
Children all have a great capacity to learn and natural curiosity. That is something I learnt from my kidsREAD volunteering for the past one and a half year. You first need to grab their attention, get them interested in reading and to associate it with a fun activity before any progress can be made. The older model of "forced" learning and rote learning is increasing giving way to engaging the children and guiding them along where their natural curiosity will take them!

It is with this approach that I start my kidsREAD classes warming up the class. This involves getting them to sit in a semi-circle near me, where all can see me and more importantly, I can see everyone and know who is paying attention and who is not. In addition, this puts as little barriers between myself and the children so they do not feel so distant from the volunteer teaching them. I talk to them and find out about how they are. Why they look so tired or chirpy or whatever, just to get them to be responsive. Once their engines have been started, I start the class reading with one of the big books with bright illustrations and we have our reading together session.

Early challenges teaching kidsREAD
One of the things that tended to put me off during my kidsREAD classes was too many questions thrown at me and me not knowing which child to respond to first. After a while, I realise I am not a machine and cannot answer all sequentially in the same order that their questions asked. I will try to respond individually but still need to make affirmative noises "umm...ah.. I see.." before moving on with the classroom reading. I also needed to respond to the children in their manner. For example, when they sulk or pout when the book is not what they want to read, I will mirror their behaviour and that usually surprises them and they will stop their sulking. ;-) I am blessed that my class are generally very well behaved and they also are all very photogenic as the picture above demonstrates. I salute their mothers and fathers for bringing them to kidsREAD to build a firm foundation in their english literary skills.

K is for kidsREAD!

P.S. We are having a holiday break and will resume kidsREAD sessions on 30 June 2007, Saturday.

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