I was in the classroom the other day helping some kids to read. Most of the kindergartners in the class are on track for reading. Several are not. I've gotten to know the kids in the class pretty well. I'm there just about every week for two hours. I'm not sure how much I contribute by my measly two hours, but I like to think its something.
This week I spent time with two kids in particular who are struggling to read simple words. It seems like rather than being unable to read, they are distracted. Uninterested. Unmotivated. It's no fault of the teacher, she is amazing. It just is what it is right now. It makes me sad.
De'Sean has made a lot of progress since I first met him. Some weeks he is more focused than others. This week was a not so focused week. At first he rose to the challenge of not letting me "stump" him. Then he got bored. After about 7 minutes he was rocking in his chair. Looking around. Telling me "I don't want to read any more."
I had noticed earlier that De'Sean was good at and interested in drawing. I asked him about art. He said he liked drawing. I told him I noticed he was really good at it and encouraged him that some day he might be a famous artist. He said, "Yeah, but ain't nobody gonna take me for lessons." I let him know there are schools where you can learn to be an artist but you have to know how to read to go there. I tried to cast some vision for him to learn to read so that he can one day draw cartoons for other kids to watch on tv. I don't know if those words sunk in.
Next up was Aleyah. She is a smiley round girl who loves to give me a hug when I come in the classroom. She lights up when she is called into the hall to work on reading. She breezed through the letters and their sounds. She grew discouraged and bored when we started reading the words. Her brightness and smile faded after a few minutes of struggle.
I decided to ask her some similar questions. She loves to sing and wants to become the most famous singer in the world some day. I told her I couldn't wait to hear her sing. I also explained to her that singers need to know how to read so they know what words to sing. I let her know that she is on her way to being a famous singer, but that it's so important she focuses on reading.
When I think about the kids I get to spend time with, I have high hopes for them. I pray that various negative cycles will end with them. I pray that they will know Jesus. I pray that they will have hope and dreams that don't get squashed along the way.
There is a reason we keep our kids in Dayton Public Schools. Actually, there are a lot of reasons we keep our kids in Dayton Public Schools. De'sean and Aleyah are two of those reasons. I believe God wants to use our family to breathe hope and life there. I also believe God wants to breathe hope and life into our family as we rub shoulders with these kids too. I'm the one being schooled.