It’s Not Just About Helping Kids Read Better......For Me, It’s Personal
I didn’t understand what the teacher wanted us to do in that day’s lesson, and it made me feel so small.
I remember I had on a cute brown dress with the hem half pulled out because I had fiddled with it ripping out the stitches.
I crossed my arms on top of my desk, nestled my head into my skinny arms, and took a deep breath as a tear rolled down my face.
I wished I had the courage to ask the teacher for help.
Instead, I remained seated with my head down.
First grade was hard.
Several years later, the 5th-grade teacher asked us to pull out our literature books.
My book felt like the heaviest one in the class. I managed to lift the book to my desk and waited for instructions.
It was a reading day. Each student would be randomly called upon to stand by their desks and read from the literature book.
The teacher called my name. I stood straight and tall.
“I’ve got this!” I confidently told myself.
As I read, I paid very close attention to the sound of my voice. Smooth and steady, reading with expression, and with 100% accuracy.
“Nailed it!” I thought.
But then, as I sat down, something happened.
The teacher started asking questions - you know, comprehension questions about what I had just read!
I shrank. Sliding lower in my seat careful not to make eye contact with the teacher, praying she would not call on me.
You see, I had absolutely no idea what I had just read. I could sound out the words, but when it came to understanding them?
That was a different story altogether.
My comprehension problems showed up over and over.
Timed tests, standardized tests, end-of-year tests...geesh. If I had more time to read, reread, and reread the material I could do well.
In college, God placed within me a strong desire to become a teacher, even though being a teacher was not on my list of career choices.
I remember in my first education class, my hand surprisingly shot up as the dean of the department came in and asked who would be interested in studying special education.
I was so shocked at how quickly I responded.
You see, I did not want another child to suffer from comprehension problems like I did - or experience the pain, shame, and embarrassment that came with it.
I wanted to work with those who needed me.
In my 7th year of teaching, God gave me the opportunity to teach at a private clinic.
While there I discovered a unique way of teaching how to understand language so that I could comprehend what I read.
This was the ultimate answer to my comprehension problems.
I was so excited, overjoyed, and asked a million questions so that I could learn every detail.
For the next several years, I was able to help my students use this way to comprehend what they read AND know how to answer written comprehension questions.
My students loved how easy and fun it was to hold information in memory.
Their grades soared with this newfound way of comprehending what they read.
After 20 years of teaching, God made it clear for me to leave the teaching profession to raise my two kids.
I thought I had shut the door on teaching.
I noticed that my youngest child had no desire to learn to read.
I was very concerned she would quickly fall behind in reading if she didn’t have specific basic reading skills before entering kindergarten.
Brushing the dust from the plastic tubs where I had stored my teaching materials, I reached inside to pull out books and notes that I had so carefully put away years before.
I frantically refreshed my memory as to how to help my daughter.
But...she would have nothing to do with my teaching her to read.
I had to introduce those basic reading skills through creative play. She had no idea I was priming her to read.
In middle school, I noticed she was not fully understanding what she was reading.
She really did not like to read for pleasure.
Her idea of reading a book was to get the Cliff”s Notes version so the main points were condensed for her.
I was concerned that this lack of understanding of what she read would prevent her from succeeding in her full potential in school.
I mean, not every textbook or novel has Cliff”s Notes available, right?
I knew I needed to take action NOW so she could learn to implement strategies to help her understand what she read quickly.
So I taught my daughter the system I had taught my students years before and she now holds a 4.4 average and is ranked 4th in her high school senior class.
She has become a confident reader and I no longer have to worry about her getting accepted into a great college.
Once I figured out how to help my daughter with her reading comprehension skills, other moms came to me wanting to know my system so they could help their own kids.
The results were crazy!
That’s when I knew I was on to something.
I made a commitment to using my voice and to re-dedicate my professional life as a Reading Strategist.
By helping other Christian moms improve their kids' reading skills, their kids became confident readers.
God heard my cries as the sad little girl who just wanted to understand how to do the assignment in 1st grade.
He orchestrated the perfect path for me to help other kids overcome comprehension problems both as a teacher and now as a reading coach.