Sunday, July 15, 2007

Wemberly worries by Kevin Henkes

My kidsREAD class has more girls than boys aged seven to eight. Today only one of the two boys appeared in the class while most of the girls turned up. Girls' reading abilities appear to be better that the boys at their current ages. Most of the girls in my class are quite good readers except for one or two who need to catch up with the rest of their peers. I am blessed to have a class where they are no behavioural problems and the children are all quite enthusiastic regardless of their abilities.

We read the book, "Wemberly Worries" by Kevin Henkes during this kidsREAD class. The book's main character is the mouse called Wemberly who in the words of her grandmother was always about being in the state of, "worry, worry, worry!". This is one of the recommended kidsREAD story books written by Kevin Henkes who also has a series of books titled "Chrysanthemum" about a girl who was teased about her name.

The children took turns to read each page from the book while I asked them about what they were worried about in their lives. Most of the standard answers were "I dunno" but some did worry about exams and parents not being around for them. During the kidsREAD volunteers training, the trainer recommended this book for us to use if we wanted to share with children about the topic of worrying as the children who were worriers could identify themselves with the main character Wemberly who had the habit of stroking her rabbit doll Petal.

"Wemberly Worries" illustrations were quite well drawn as in water colours and ink and the children enjoyed looking at what happened during each stage of Wemberly's worries.

The exercise that followed, taken from the kidsREAD 2B workbook, was for the children to draw a picture of their best friend and the things they like to do. I gave the children some hints on what they could write e.g. My best friend and I like to _____________ (talk to each other, complain about boys, play together etc.). We didn't break into small group reading this round as there was only K and myself in for today's session for the Primary one and two class.

It was an enjoyable session as the children seemed to be in a good mood today and everyone seemed to like the book in the way they responded to it.

I will be on vacation for the next week or so and will updated from 1 August 2007.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

What kidsREAD taught me

This cute girl is in my kidsREAD class and has made good progress in her kidsREAD journey. I was a little bit disappointed that she has not been appearing in my class since the second half of the term has started as I think she can continue to benefit from our reading program and the volunteers can teach her. She has good attitude and is a very fun-loving girl. Her elder sister was also in the program.

What kidsREAD taught me
Life as a volunteer comes with its ups and its downs. Lack of attendance of a child or withdrawal of a child from the program can be due to many factors and not just yourself. Hence, I learn not to take things personally when it does not go my way.

On the contrary, when you see that you are making a real difference in the children's lives, there is a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. It takes time for progress to show up as the children will grow at their own pace. Some of them pick things up very fast, some less so. You need to have determination to see things through even if you do not always get to see the result.

One of the challenges in kidsREAD that I encounter is being able to see visible improvement in my children's reading abilities. Most of the children's time are spent in primary school where the mainstream education system is in charge of their development. The other major part of their lives are spent at home with their family and that is where parents' and siblings involvement in the children's education yields returns. My kidsREAD class is only one hour on Saturday mornings. What can that one hour do? :-)

Having been a volunteer with the Chinese Development Assistance Council for the last six to seven years has taught me patience. While we may not see the immediate results from our efforts, I truly believe that if you do the best that you can and pour some of your life into the children, they will benefit in some ways no matter how small. :-)

Teaching kidsREAD also hones my skills in interacting with children. I now realise I am more relaxed with my class partly because I am familiar with the children. But I also start to relate to them at their level. If they throw tantrums in class, I do not lose my temper. Instead, I throw a mock tantrum back at them and this usually allows them to see how they are behaving. I also learn to interact with the children, allow them to speak and interrupt me sometimes so that there is interactivity. Children get bored very fast and having a two-way communication during the class helps the children get interested in what is happening.

Would you like to learn how to work with children in a reading program? Leave your email in the comments page and I will get in touch with you!