Fun with Phonics
When beginning my graduate work towards my Masters in Elementary Education, I was asked to tutor a kindergarten student that was having considerable trouble with reading. Being in school at the time, I was currently learning many great techniques for assisting struggling students with reading. I was excited (and a little nervous) to see if these techniques would prove to be effective. I began the sessions by getting to know the student. He was a little boy of 5 years with a great interest in sports. I decided that sports would be a great focus for our sessions. I gathered books, magazines, and other reading material that included sports or sports related content. I believe that children learn best when the material relates to their interests. I also believe that learning should be fun. To begin, I did a pretest with the student to establish his academic level and abilities. According to the results, the student needed work with phonics before independent reading could begin. The student and I used manipulatives, drawings, and songs to learn sounds and form words. He struggled with certain sound connections. We worked diligently and reviewed the same sounds and words often. As the students began to understand the concepts, I introduced the sports material and he was excited and eager to show what he had learned. He read slowly at first, stumbling on many words. We went back and forth between the manipulatives and learning games and the independent reading. He was actually taking information he learned with the manipulatives and songs and applying it to his reading. He was eager to read about the sports he was so interested in. I was thrilled to see the progressive the student had made in such a short time. His teacher also noticed a significant change in his reading abilities and complimented me on my work. I have to admit I was a little proud of that. However, the look on the student's face when he read a whole page completely by himself was the ultimate reward for all of our hard work.