Why is your child afraid of literacy?
Fear is the most powerful tool that is used to control or hinder our progress if we are not careful. As a parent/carer, we need to let our child know that it is okay to be scared sometimes, but we must be mindful not to put too much pressure that would stop our young people from using their full potential, and instead destroy their confidence in the process.
The different types of learners I have encountered....
The overly critical learner:
I have seen many young talented people that were very knowledgable in certain literacy skills, but they lacked confidence in tapping or conquering the small improvements that they
may need to make.
Or just taking action and giving it a go on certain skills to see if they can access it or not.
In my teaching and tutoring experience, I have encountered the following students:
Jack doesn't acknowledge his strengths, whether big or small.
Me: "Well done Jack for spelling the word provocative correctly, you used a lot of writing techniques and ambitious vocabulary".
Jack would forget about his achievements and instead replies with,
Jack: "But I misspelled the word 'reminiscing' Miss and I forgot to use a lot of punctuation".
Jack doesn't acknowledge his strengths, only his weaknesses.
The cautious learner:
This learner is so scared to make a mistake that they wait until they have your approval first and you end up offering all the answers on what they should do.
Me: "Elizabeth, okay, now that we have read the extract together and I have explained the question, please highlight and annotate the extract and find evidence for your answer".
Elizabeth: "Can we just do this together?"
Me: "Okay, let's find one example together........okay this one is a good example. Now can you find another two examples?"
Elizabeth: "I don't know if it is right, can you show me another one please".
She is so afraid of giving it a go herself and this task ends up being a group task, not an independent one. Many teachers and parents fall into this trap!
The arrogant learner:
This learner thinks they are always right and they question or challenge everything you say unnecessarily.
Me: "You need to plan before you write your story".
John: "Why do I need to do that?"
Me: "We have gone over this before, but I said this will help you to have a clearer structure in your story and ideas".
John: "But I don't like planning, I tend to just write it".
Me: "But you could be missing out on some key information and you will make more mistakes and lose marks in the final exams if you don't plan before you write".
John fails to listen and he manages to get a very average mark in his final exams. Don't get me wrong, I love when my students challenge me, but a poor judgment is if they are not following instructions to help them improve in their literacy,
then that might mean that the student may need to eat some humble pie and start to use the tools that might just work for them.
Once Upon A Time...
When I was in school, I was a mixture of the overly critical learner and the cautious learner, I didn't feel that I was listened to by my English teacher, or even encouraged to make the progress I did end up making.
And how did I achieve my desired grade in English?
By doing the following things:
Ways to boost your confidence in literacy
- Identify your child's strengths and weaknesses: Think about the following areas and what have a discussion with them on which areas they feel they are comfortable with and which areas do they need to improve on:
(SPAG) Spelling, Punctuation, Grammar
Poetry, Dystopia, Fiction, Non – Fiction
(This will include extracts or novels that you may read throughout the year).
Speak to your child's subject teacher to see if they agree with the areas your child needs to work on.
1. Have a conversation – Child and Parent
Both of you need to be on the same page and have a conversation to see what your child needs to work on or how can your child make further improvements:
Do they need to join an intervention class? Do they need a Tutor? Do you have time to work on these areas at home with your child?
2. Read, Read, Read
I cannot distress the importance of reading a good book daily. Whether it is 15 mins to an hour a day.
Set up a schedule/routine that is easy to manage for your child and encourage them to explore different genres.
You can also read a book together as a family or get a play you can read together which will make it more interactive.
3. Keep a diary or journal
This will help you develop your child's writing skills and it encourages your child to more reflect at the same time.
I kept a diary from the age of 8 years old and now I have a mature diary (journal) in my adult years.
Don’t get me wrong I did have gaps in between the years where I did not have anything inspiring to write.
And your content changes from talking about the sweets to talking about your career. But I do get a good chuckle when I look back on what I have written.
4. Practise, Practise, Practise
When you have identified what your child needs to work. Get them to practice as much as they can.
Whether it is their handwriting or your creative writing. You can always ask their teacher, for extra resources that cover these areas.
Family Writing Task: (Optional)
Now, this is optional, so don't worry, you won't get a detention if you fail to complete it.
But I find this task to be a great way to get your child to understand their literacy journey.
It is good to understand your literacy journey also.
So the main headings are:
NAME, AGE, PLACE OF BIRTH?
WHAT WAS THE FIRST BOOK YOU READ?
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT READING WHEN YOU WERE IN SCHOOL?
DID YOU READ OR WRITE WITH YOUR FAMILY?
DO YOU REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME YOU WENT TO THE LIBRARY?
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK OR GENRE?
HOW HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE OF READING HELPED YOU TODAY?
Here is my small example below, I hope you like it:
My Language Autobiography
In my experience of reading and language, I remember being heavily influenced by my family’s Caribbean dialect. This varied from speaking, hearing, and seeing different forms of interaction around a particular social environment.
Even different events became a routine or ritual that was connected to language. We attended certain events that helped us to unite as culture such as Notting Hill Carnival.
We religiously attended this event and dressed up in costumes or played steel pan. This gave us a sense of pride about where we came from and united us with other people from the same culture.
My father spoke patois fluently and could identify others in public that may have spoken the same language, just by their persona.
This may have been developed through his wisdom or his ability to recognise physically through others the same reflected mannerisms that he had. My parents’ skills in literacy were self-taught as my father left school at the tender age of 13 and my mother at 15. They both migrated to London from Grenada.
My father and mother were 25 years apart so they had different experiences. He witnessed the early stages of economic and racial oppression when he arrived in London in the 1940s, so he had no choice but to accept any available job.
He worked in three different jobs to make ends meet so education was not an option for him at the time. The first book he read was the Bible and he began to practice as a Jehovah witness in his 20s.
My Mum did get an opportunity to study in England from 11 – 15years old and the Bible was also the first book she read. Her religious background was Seventh Day Adventist, so they went to church on Saturdays and she lived with my great–grandmother in Grenada who made reading the bible compulsory.
Therefore, my parents used to read the bible to me before I went to bed and that was my bedtime reading.
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'Reach your full potential with confidence'