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by Roma Cox
When I worked in the public school system as a teachers aid, I was given eight children who had not learned to read as had the rest of their class. They were in the midterm of first grade, and were expected to be retained because of their inability to read.
Their self esteem was at a low, because they knew they had not performed as the rest in their class. As a result they showed many of the problems that go along with low self esteem. They were at the bottom of the class totem pole. I recall one bright child, who was simply a hands on learner. He was a farm boy who often helped around the farm by driving the tractor. His grandparents let him drive an old car around their property. He was having more trouble than the others with his reading, so he was at the bottom of the bottom of this totem pole.
We started out by using the curriculum the rest of the class had learned to read with. As this boy began to read, one of the other boys called him a dummy. His little face dropped, and not a sound came out of him. I replied, "Oh no, he is quite smart. Did you know that he can drive?" His eyes grew large as he lifted his head, and looked at me with a surprised look. This suddenly gave him status in this group. Most of these children were capable of learning to read. I could not give up on them.
The school curriculum was not working for these kids. I wanted very much to help, but honestly did not know what to do. So that night I prayed, and in one dream the whole concept came to me. It was a fun hands on board game...learning disguised as a game.
As they progressed along the board saying the sounds, they began to assist each other. Often I had to instruct them to keep quiet and let each player say the sound by themselves. They were anxious to read, and kept asking me to do so. I reminded them that everyone had to learn eight sounds first. We would all do it together (It is not necessary to do this in all situations, but it seemed right for this group). When the time came, I moved aside the board, and passed them all a book. They were so excited!
I wish you could have been there to see. They took turns reading, and as each child read, they frequently paused, and hugged themselves with an uncontrollable giggle (even I giggled with delight). As each one read, the giggles turned into group laughter. It was truly more fun than I can explain.
As a result of Ring Around the Phonics 7 of the 8 children (including the little farm boy) caught up with their peers and graduated that year with their class.
Many years later my daughter was looking for something to help her son learn to read, and wasn't finding what she wanted. I told her about this game. She took it, added more fun activity and rewards (She is gifted that way), and taught her son to read. She also added specially designed first readers, and with the help of some home school families added detailed parent guides. It was a home school group that encouraged us to mass produce this game because it had helped their children too.
Many children have benefited since then. I cannot take credit for what was given as a result of a prayer, but it still excites me when I hear the success stories.
My Comments: What a wonderful story. Thanks so much for sharing this!
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