Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Why do kids shut down - Part 1

My last student whom I weaned in less than 3 months is another example of a kid who had shut down. Surely if 10 to 20 percent of kids shut-down they must be wired differently from the other 80% of kids.

However, this is not the same thing as an older kid not understanding some physics or mathematics concept as suggested by my friend Mr.Kandiah.  We will explore as to why these kids shut-down.

After talking with the parents of my last student for about 20 minutes or so I asked the kid to read to me four lines of a few letters I had written on a piece of paper from large font size to smaller font size. This was a simple test to see if her eye sight was normal and also to see if she recognized the alphabets. She read all the letters according to the sound of the alphabets. Just with that simple test I told her parents that I will be able to get the kid to read within 4 months. (She read the letter names correctly.)

I wrote about this in my blog before I started to teach her. I was sure I could make her read within four months and I did. Please read my blog post here:

She read the alphabets the way her teacher had taught her. This method of teaching has been going on in many schools in this country as well as in Australia and many other countries for many years.

This is how she sounded out the alphabets:

S – sur; M – mur; N – nur; F – fur; and so on.   

Immediately, I knew that this was the same problem faced by many of my past students. A classic example is my former student who later on began to lead her school, St. Francis Convent, in Coral Speaking and represented Sabah at National level. This girl attained 6A’s, 2 B’s and 1 C for her Form 5 exam last year and is now doing matriculation in Labuan.

The 80% of kids will have no problem with learning to read despite the teacher teaching the alphabet sounds wrongly but not the 20% who are prone to shutting down.
The sounds of the alphabets above and almost all other alphabets taught by teachers here confuse the kids and they shut down. The sound of the above letters should be:

S – just ssss as in the sound of s in  the snake’s hissing sound ‘ssss’.
M – mmm – this sound is made by lightly pressing the lips together while making the mmm sound
N – just nnnnn and definitely not ‘nuh or ner’
F – just fff as in the beginning sound in feather. When you make this sound your mouth is almost closed, and you blow air through your front teeth.

                                To be continued………..

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