Ms. Tracy Tong, Early Literacy Support Teacher – Encouraging Parents to Walk with Their Child
“When parents learn that their child may be dyslexic, it is natural that they will go through a difficult time accepting it. It will be hard work helping their child cope with their studies, but they must never give up.”
Ms. Tracy Tong is Pathways’ Early Literacy Support teacher. Being also a mother to a son who has special education needs, what she wants to see most is for parents to support and face the challenges together with their child, instead of being frightened and avoiding the “difficulty”.
“If we, as parents, are not committed to helping our child, then how can we ask for help from others?”
Ms. Tong used to be a kindergarten teacher. She noticed that many parents do not understand dyslexia. When a teacher discovers that a child had apparent learning difficulties and wishes to explain and suggest support methods, often parents are unwilling to accept the reality, and avoid facing the problem. They simply hope that the teachers at school will help their child overcome such learning difficulties.
In contrast, parents who seek help from Pathways mostly possess a fair amount of knowledge about dyslexia. They understand that children with dyslexia have normal intelligence, they only need a different way of learning. That is why most of these parents accept the suggested intervention methods, and are willing to help their child face the difficulties.
To encourage parents to support their child outside of class, Ms. Tong tries her utmost to maintain close communication with the parents. Every time after class, she pastes the content of what she taught in the student journal; if the parents come to pick up their child after class, she makes it a point to brief them on their child’s progress. For those who are unable to pick up after class themselves, she communicates with them every month to understand more about the child, so that she can design customized content for them.
Since Ms. Tong mainly teaches kindergarten students, she is experienced in handling pre-school children with mood problems in class. If a child does not want to participate in the small group activity, she will tell them softly: “It is fine if you don’t want to play now; you can join us when you want to play later.” Usually the child will be aroused by the group interaction, and will gradually overcome the negative mood and join the group activity.
Ms. Tong has taught over 50 students. The one who impressed her the most was a student whose progress in literacy learning was very slow. That student had been at taking class at Pathways for almost two years, and had experienced different methods of literacy learning. Yet he did not seem to be making any progress. But in the third year he was like a changed person all of a sudden, and made great strides in learning. He became even more confident when he entered primary school.
Ms. Tong revealed that her feelings during the time she taught this student was like a roller coaster ride. “I doubted whether I had used the correct method to teach him. Looking back, I realized that what he needed was time to absorb the knowledge he had been taught. As long as the direction is correct, the reward will eventually come. When I shared this case with my colleagues, they were just as amazed and delighted as I was.”
As our students grow up, they will be able to master and apply the skills they learnt. This is the source of satisfaction for our teachers.