Thursday, October 1, 2015

Reading Opens Eyes!

My wife and I recently began volunteering at a Title 1 elementary school with 2nd grade students. The youngsters select books from the school library and their personal collection, and they read the books to the volunteers. Some students read far above grade level while others are at their reading level. There are also students who are well below reading level. The hope is that these at-risk kids will not fall further behind and will benefit from the reading time with the volunteers. In the few weeks I’ve been volunteering I’ve already seen improvement with some lower level kids.

Beyond the reading, I’ve noted that these second-graders love sharing information about their lives. It’s unsolicited, and I sense when an adult pays attention to them the kids open up, as if the volunteer is a surrogate parent. I’m not sure what is shared is always reality, but that does not matter. The dynamics of sharing between child and adult may be more important than the information communicated. When adults pay attention, kids seem to benefit. Title 1 schools need more volunteers so all students can have a positive dialogue with an adult.

Unfortunately, not every child has a parent or guardian readily available to spend time with them. Trying to make ends meet consumes time and energy, giving parents less time to spend with kids. There are many other socio-economic factors at work that make family life difficult.

I take a different approach with the young readers. I remind them of Dr. Ben Carson’s recent comment. We all have the same brain structure. When the pediatric neurosurgeon operates on a child, he is focused on the task at hand and not on how we look on the outside or how much money we have in the bank.
I remind the 2nd grade readers of their potential for success. I celebrate every reading accomplishment, no matter how small. I want the kids to know that every person counts, especially them!

To what end does this all matter? Education, especially reading, opens our eyes to the seen and unseen worlds. Psalm 119, verse 18 reminds us of what is ultimately important.
Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions. (NLT)

I pray all of the students will have a wonderful and blessed life journey.

Robert Parlante
October 2015  

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