The Struggles of Some Boys – Part 1

In just a short time working with kids at an after school program in Allendale, my eyes were opened to some sad situations, where kids are seriously struggling. I’d like to tell you about just of couple of real examples.

Struggle with His Schoolwork

In the Allendale County school system, homework is very rarely given on Fridays. The only times I’ve seen it assigned is when the students don’t do their work during their normal class times. There was a Friday some weeks back where three children came to the Club needing to do homework. Two of the children finished quickly, but the third sat there with his book open but mostly looking around and not reading.

I couldn’t figure out what was holding him back. All he had to do was find definitions for three words in his science book, and copy them verbatim. But he just sat there, pencil in hand. I kept reminding him to read and get his work done, but because of other needs of kids, I could not give him the attention that he apparently needed.

When I finally got around to being able to focus on him (about an hour later), he still had nothing written down. Was he being lazy? Was he unclear on the assignment? Was he being rebellious? Not sure, but wanting to help him get him done (at least so I could move on to other things besides nagging him), I pointed out the specific paragraph where the first definition was located, and I said, “Read!”

The Struggle to Read, and Understand

It took him over 30 seconds to read the 10- or 12-word sentence out loud, and it would have taken longer had I not helped him with half the words.

That’s when it finally hit me – this 10-year-old boy cannot read! Even when he did read the words, there was no comprehension on what they meant. He could have sat there all day with the best intentions, but he was never going to be able to understand what he read.

Not sure how to help him, I gave him a book that we had at the Club (it was at a level at least two grades where he should be), and told him to read a little each day. He said he would, but whenever I’ve followed up, he said he hasn’t read much.

Of course not.

Be sure to read the story of another young man.

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**image courtesy of Vankuso via flickr

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11 responses to “The Struggles of Some Boys – Part 1”

  1. Valerie says :

    I have this problem with one of my kids, but he can read. He seems like he just has this weird mental block that I can't figure out how to get him past.

  2. Joey Espinosa says :

    Have you talked with other folks, in education? One of the problems I realize I have is my limited background in education. I don't know how it's being taught in class, so I'm often at a blank how to explain it myself.

  3. Barbara Dansby says :

    It is very difficult when they are that far behind. I had an 8th grader that transferred in & could not read much. We used a Literacy association volunteer just to teach reading with her. Try to contact the local Literacy Association, retired teachers or maybe an Adult Ed center that can help. Also try USCA or some one with an education program that requires a practicum.

  4. Beth says :

    Our local libraries have books with read along tapes. It might help if he could listen to the words as he sees them on the page so he can make the oral and literal connections. I agree with contacting the local university. When I was getting my Ed. Degree we were always looking for kids to observe and work with as part of our materials and methods classes.

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