I haven't been on lately, because we've been busy at work and getting ready for the holidays, but had a moment and wanted to get some input into this situation in my life.
I teach Religious Education (formerly known as CCD) at our church. I'm a volunteer with not a lot of training....this is my 3rd year teaching 1st grade.
I have 2 little girls in my class who are sisters......one is biological and the other is adopted. In fact, I taught both of the adopted girls older brothers.
Their mother home schools all of them and tells me that they are special needs children. They are either ADD or ADHD (sorry I can't remember).
Here's my situation......I'm not trained to teach these children. I'm doing the best I can but I'm running into one major stumbling block.
They can't read. At least that is what they tell me. I give the kids a chance to read a paragraph from the book and let them raise their hand if they want to read. The one girl is very outgoing and doesn't hesititate to answer questions, while the other sister is quiet and keeps to herself. The one who is outgoing raised her hand to read, but as soon as she looked at the page, she turned to me and said "I can't read".
While I can understand the challenges their mother must face (the older brothers are also ADD/ADHD) I would think that in a setting of being home schooled, she would have more one-on-one time with them and by the 1st grade I would imagine they could at least read simple words like "I, me, the, and" and so on.
One of the other teachers confided in me that she had heard that the children were never medically diagnosed as being ADD/ADHD ..... that the mother has labeled them with this problem.
I know that some of you are familiar with this condition and wanted to know if you thought it uncommon that they would not be able to read at all by the 1st grade.
They are very nice girls, good manners, pretty well behaved in general. Truthfully the one sister who is biological doesn't seem to have any of the symptoms of ADD or ADHD as I googled it and read up on the definition. The other one does to a point, but truly, she doesn't seem to be any more "distracted" or "lacking in attention" than some kids her age. I have others in my class who talk when they aren't supposed to, or get up out of their chair to look out the window, or any number of things that active children tend to do.
I'm going to have to check in later as I have some things I need to get done here. I hope I've given you enough to go on,....but I'll check in as often as I can.
ADD or ADHD has nothing to do with being able to read....so I would say there are other problems...and I would have a meeting with the parents and whoever is in charge of your program and figure out how to help these girls....
youngest grandson is ADHD and he reads great....so meet with the parents....
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I don't recall reading being required for the teaching for my or my kids religion classes. If they can't read....don't make them. They are there to learn about Jesus & the teachings of your church. You should be able to do this without making them read out loud. I'm sure they are capable of listening. Leave their reading problems to the schools. Even home-schooled kids are monitored by the school system.
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I guess all I would say, is some kids don't read by first grade, and I would say, that since you are not their primary teacher, if they don't want to read, I wouldn't make them. Until they are comfortable reading it may just embarrass them if they are asked to read when it is a struggle for them. Just let the kids who can read well in first grade do so, and let those who are still learning the skill wait until they are reading well before making them perform. If they have trouble decoding they won't get anything out of what they are reading anyway. Better to let them hear it being read by someone else as I take it the class intent is for them to learn some information rather than how to read the information? jmho
Perhaps you could ask the parents to meet with you and bring some of the teaching materials they use, just so that you will have a better idea of where the girls are academically.
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IMHO, ADD/ADHD is something that should be diagnosed only by someone specialized in this field. My daughter is ADHD .... she is 43 and still on Ritalin. (It stimulates the brain to keep necessary channels open and functioning.) However, she could read before going to 1st grade simply because she was so busy, so energetic and so interested in doing whatever there was to do and to learn whatever there was to learn. She taught herself ... I read to her but did not push learning to read before 1st grade.
Oris, I don't make anyone read......I give them the opportunity if they want to. We have books for all grades and after two years of teaching I'm seeing them blossom from the beginning of the year to the end as far as their reading skills! It's so great to see their progress, but back to the point.....I don't make them read. She volunteered, and has several times, but each time she follows up with "I can't do this". I'm hesitating to even call on her because I don't want her to feel badly.
At the end of each unit there is a review. It is very simple, but required to see if the children are able to remember what we've talked about. It is as simple as having pictures on one side of the page and some short words on the other and drawing a line to match the word/s with the picture. It may have the words "God's Holy Book" on one side and a picture of the Bible on the other and they have to draw a line from the words to the book.
I'm having trouble with the girl who says she can't read unless I sit down beside her and actually point to the words and go over each and every one. I only have 1 1/2 hours with them and trust me.......just getting thru some of the simple things like taking attendance sometimes takes far longer than it should. Add that to everyone who wants to tell me about their week, or sing a song they learned for the class.
Lady FingersPerhaps you could ask the parents to meet with you and bring some of the teaching materials they use, just so that you will have a better idea of where the girls are academically.
With all due respect, Lady Fingers, I think this is intruding where she has no right to intrude. It doesn't sound like she is in the public school district where these children reside, so she is not in a position of authority over the parents' teaching curriculum. It's really none of her business, even if it is an inconvenience that they aren't reading in public yet. This is simply religious education. She has information they need to learn. She doesn't need to worry about teaching them reading, unless she is willing to go into the home and tutor them and makes an arrangement with the mom to do so.
Kaye, I was not suggesting that she critique the parents' teaching skills; simply that she ask the parent to help her understand where the girls are, academically, particularly because the parents say they have learning disabilities.Although you call this "simply" religious education, I presume that the parents want their kids to be learning something there. A better understanding of how the girls learn at home might help her determine how to teach them in class.
ADD & ADHD are terms that many parents use to describe their children when in fact the kids are not suffering from these disorders at all. And it has nothing to do with the ability to read. Many kids don't read by 1st grade. If you are teaching childrent this young, I don't understand why you are asking them to read anyway. You are not a trained teacher. You are a volunteer. Perhaos you need to reevaluate your methods.
Is it difficult for some to see where I'm saying that I DON'T REQUIRE them to read......I only give them the opportunity? I think I've made that clear, but I'll say it again.......I ask if anyone would like to read, and they raise their hands if they want to. I only call on those who raise their hands.
I have however been doing most of the reading myself when the class size is small. Most children tend to read in soft-spoken tones, so its sometimes difficult for others to hear them. So when the class is larger, I do the reading myself.
For those who are saying that alot of children can't read in 1st grade, I would say that surprises me because at least in our school district, they are learning to read, albeit small easy words, in kindergarten. By the time they are in 1st grade, simple sentences are the norm.
LF, I understand where you are coming from......and my husband has also suggested something like that. I also have an autistic child in the class, and truthfully, I'm at a great loss with him. He's as sweet as can be, but his mother has already told me he doesn't like to color much, so expecting him to even draw a picture of what we've learned would probably be futile. He also does alot of talking to himself and its starting to affect the other children....who will ask him to "shhhhh".
I think what also bothers me is, when you register your child for RE in August (classes start in September) there is a form to fill out that asks if your child/children have any special needs and what they are. When I began class this year, not one word was said to me about the 3 children in my class who were special needs and how to work with them. The mother of the autistic child said to me "If he gives you any problems, just call me". Huh? What kind of problems and what a problem is to me, may not be to her.
I'm just sort of frustrated.
Do all of your "evaluation" with non-readers orally. Ask them to point to God's holy book,or what is the name of God's holy book etc. Or continue sitting with them and point and read the words to them.
Autism.. . let him attend and absorb what he can, but expecting even an oral response is probably asking too much. Tell the other children that they need to learn tolerance and patience, because this little boy cannot control his "talking to himself". I always explained it to my classroom as something we can help with, not be annoyed by. He is not going to be quiet. That's the nature of his condition.
If your eager volunteer wants to "read", then shadow read with her. Simply sit beside her and read aloud with her, only you speak very softly. In reality you will be giving her clues, but she can have a feeling of success because she got to "read" in CCD class.
Good luck! Your job is to impart knowledge of the church, so don't worry about things you can't control. Just be as supportive as you can. That's all anyone should ask of you.
Thanks retteacher.......your insight into the autistic child will help. I did not know that expecting him to tone it down was not an option. I will ask the other children to be more tolerant, one day when he isn't in class. I will try to find the time to work with the children who can't read by doing things visually........we don't have an overhead projector which would REALLY help, but I use the chalkboard as much as possible.
Shadow reading may or may not help.......as she says she can't read at all, so reading along with her might be a mute point.
This has at least given me some ideas.....thanks.
Do the shadow reading with a few others first, and then she won't feel singled out. It might encourage her to try on her own after a while, which is really the purpose of the exercise. LOL
Just tell the other kids that the little boy really can't help it, it's an issue of control, and he really doesn't have any. They'll respond nicely. You can't tell them more than that due to privacy, so keep it simple and keep it brief.
I've volunteered to "teach" RE to kindergarteners for years. I have had kids with all sorts of problems. Don't want to go into that here.
I viewed my main job as to teach these kids about Jesus/God & his love for us, what we can do to thank him, etc. I was a volunteer, not a professional teacher. It was not my job to diagnose kids. At this age I relied on a lot of crafts to reinforce the lesson. I had one kid who would color everything with black. I praised his work as much as the others. I figured out who needed help, who didn't. I assigned my assistant to help as needed. I had a problem with a child who did inappropriate touching with my 16 yo son who was my assistant. He was super uncomfortable with her & my son came to me with the problem. We told the supervisor the problem. The supervisor talked over the situation with the adoptive/foster mother. Case closed.
Remember: you are a volunteer! Not a professional teacher. You have these kids for a hour or so one day a week. You are supposed to teach them about the Lord. Not teach them how to read. If a kid volunteers to read then says he can't...glide over it, read it yourself, get another kid to read, make some innocent comment about "Joe" not up to par to read today. The other kids KNOW something is wrong with "Joe" you just don't have to remark on it. He wants to do it, just can't . No need to make any kind of emphasis on his inability. No need to meet with his parents. YOUR ARE A VOLUNTEER! If there is a major problem...go to your supervisor!
Just make sure all the kids learn God loves 'em! Get them to thank God for all his gifts to us. That's all required from volunteers! Leave everything else to the professionals!
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