Yesterday was a particularly wonderful day for the literacy program I coordinate. I personally worked with one of the students I used to work a lot more with in the fall and I was AMAZED to see how much growth had taken place. At the beginning of the year the student would stumble over words and get really impatient and frustrated over simple words like "who" and "here." (Seeing and hearing the letters was very difficult!!) Yesterday they were reading mostly fluently and even read large words like "ground" and "everything" with little hesitation and a readiness to read more. It really was night and day difference.
Other tutors also came up to me and were telling me what growth they've seen in their students too. In fact one of the more challenging students who has a stronger will than any of the students hands down has insisted to read a chapter book that is way advanced for a first grader. Of course he stumbles over nearly every word, but he will not have it any other way and you know... I'm ok with that. It's refreshing to see this student put his strong will into productive action as one has to pick their battles carefully with this particular student. I really can't take the credit though, the tutor who works with him is phenomenal!!
Although reading is not their favorite thing and probably will not be their hobby of choice in the future, they have come a long a way just with self-confidence and reading fluency. What I love most about these students, however, is their unending creativity especially for building/making/designing things. I see many future engineers in these students. In fact one them yesterday even drew me a picture of how they were going to design their future house complete with solar panels, power generators, batteries, and wind power. I was quite impressed especially since it was coming from a first grader! I even showed the drawing to one of our volunteers who was a 'real' engineer who is now retired and the student and the volunteer had a bonding moment. So precious. I love it when things like that happen!
When I came home to share this good news with my housemates one of them nicely pointed out.. "You are just starting to see growth now!?!?.... Your program is almost done for the year and then there's summer!" I agreed. The students are finally starting to catch up and starting to have self-confidence in themselves where they are starting to enjoy reading. It's SO important for that to continue over the summer and the reality is for many of those students they will probably not touch a book the whole summer long or have someone to sit and read with them. So there's challenges still there. I'm hoping the books we give them at the end of the year will help with some of that and I hope the students are getting to a point where they want to read at home. Ideally it'd be nice to see some sort of summer reading club in our neighborhood. Unfortunately I will not be here to start up something like that.