Illiteracy is a form of child abuse

By Lennox Farrell Wednesday January 16 2013 in Opinion
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Take your pick. There are at least four different methods, each tested and tried, which successfully assist anyone willing to teach any child to read. Any one. Any child.


Before considering these four approaches listed below, it is instructive to remember why a child unable to read and write from her earliest years is a child abused…is a child headed for teenage years of increasing difficulty…is a child trapped in grief compounding failure as an adult unless…


Given the human and infrastructural resources available in our communities as civic and sports organizations; as alumni, fraternal, sorority and past students’ associations; as former police and firemen’s benevolent leagues, and religious denominations, it is unconscionable that any child in our midst goes untutored…and thus abused.


Yes, as Black communities, we are in too many instances atomized by “islandism”, worm-eaten by the gangrene of classism, et al., but the sum of these individual parts is much less than the sum of the better whole, in this instance, the need of, and the possibilities available for, educating every needy child in Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe.


This is the world the Creator has bequeathed to us as individuals and communities to edify and dignify. This is the ground on which we must stand and cover. This is where our shadows fall and our influence felt. If not we, who? If not now, when? Because in addition to literacy skills, our children need the numeracy skills and others to successfully face the existential, social and technological threats ahead.


Here are some details which undergird the statement, “an illiterate child is an abused child”.


In Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere, illiteracy and crime are hand-in-glove. According to one study, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence and crime is welded to reading failure.”


In short, illiteracy is the nursing mother of crime. Or put another way, wherever there is a “school to prison pipeline” the spigot is illiteracy. Illiteracy is a form of abuse! Not unlike molestation.


But there is much reason for hope. In addition to the vast resources we collectively possess, there are many methods available to anyone committed to teaching any child to read. For added success, it is useful if organizations assist needy parents in their midst. Thus, in one’s church, is there someone similar in function, for example, to those of choir director or deacon, who is authorized as literacy director?


While trained specialists are better at assessing these methods, more details on using these are readily available in nearby libraries, bookstores and schools.


For the four methods, I rely on the advice and experience of these “trained specialists” for: 1: Phonics; 2: Look and Say; 3: Language Experience Approach and 4: Context Support Method.


The Phonics Method relies on the child being taught the alphabet first.


“Probably the best known used method in the English language, a child learns the names of the letters and the sounds they make. Then they begin to blend two letters together to make simple words, then three letters, then four and so forth.”


The Look and Say Method relies on the child learning to recognize whole words and sentences rather than individual sounds. With the child, one collects enough pictures to make into a book that the child reads again and again. Underneath the drawing write a description given by the child for the drawing…a related picture matched with a flashcard is used for this method.


This is not a good method if you don’t include pictures. Also, with this method use whole sentences – short sentences rather than individual words. Write a short sentence representing each picture. Say the sentence. Ask the child to repeat it while pointing and looking at each individual word as he/she repeats what you said.


The Language Experience Method relies on the child being taught to use their own words to learn. The child may draw a picture of Dad washing the dishes. You would then write underneath the drawing, Dad doing dishes.


The Context Support Method relies on the child learning to read by using what interests him most. For example, if he likes cars, have him choose a book with pictures and simple words about cars. The child’s interest will generate enjoyment and enthusiasm. Some children progress more with fewer books. This allows the child to focus on a specific book before using another.


Keep that first book or sheets read by a child. Laminate and make keepsakes of them. A child taught to read almost never forgets the person who gave them this gift.


Parents who read – and read often to their children and have their children read to them – are more likely to have children who also learn early to read, to love reading, and grow into confident adulthood. However, parents who watch TV more than they read, have children who are unfortunately creating problems for both themselves and for society.


Finally, if you do not have a child who needs teaching, pray that you are sent to one. God bless the child who has wholesome adults as examples at home and in the religious and civic organizations which these adults frequent.


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