Sunday, January 15, 2012

Teaching Reading is Fundamental

With pure luck, I was able to find another assistant teaching job in an after school program. The elementary school is located in a neighborhood adjacent to mine with very similar demographics. The area is almost entirely black, middle class with many Caribbean residents. The school itself is aesthetically appealing with artwork on almost every wall.

It is almost night and day when compared to the last school I worked in where the hallways were decorated with cafeteria trash, rather than student drawings. And instead of the disrespectful, volatile kids from before, the kids in my current school are disciplined and appropriately innocent.

I am impressed with the school so far. While the students' performance on last year's standardized tests were average, the parents and staff work hard to provide the kids with the resources needed to improve the overall quality of the school. This includes two after school programs, Saturday school and a variety of extracurricular activities.

Again, it is a fairly decent school. I'm happy. I did, however, notice something slightly bothersome. I teach  first grade. Out of a class of twenty four, having two or three who cannot read is not too bad. (Especially when compared to the two or three who could read in another low performing school I taught in briefly.)

I'm not familiar enough with curricula in New York City's public schools, but I wonder if kids are being taught reading fully in kindergarten or if educators are instead waiting until the first grade. I hope this is not the case because learning how to read is difficult, especially for children with learning disabilities. It is likely that kindergarten teachers have to compensate for those who did not attend preschool and as a result, have a lot of catching up to do. But doesn't this give more reason for us to start earlier??

What are your thoughts?

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