I remember the first time I volunteered at my son's school. We had been asked as parents to come out and volunteer in whatever capacity we could, and my wife and I wanted to be a part of that. I perused the different activities on the list, and nothing really appealed to me. Then one of the teachers and I struck up a conversation, and I told her that I did not see anything I really wanted to volunteer for especially, so wherever she needed me was fine. She then told me that there was one thing not on the list that she was going to privately ask some parents to do, and that was teaching kids how to read. I agreed, and so began a great passion!
My love for teaching kids how to read all began with a boy named Michael. Michael was eight years old and was not keeping up with his classmates on his school work. He was not the typical youngster who acted out because he did not understand how to do his school work. He appeared to have genuine anxiety about the issue, and would often stay after class asking his teacher for her to help on his assignments. She could tell that he had difficulty reading and wanted to get him a tutor who could help.
When I first met Michael, we had a long talk about where he was struggling in school, and I asked him about his reading. He told me that he was not a very good reader. He explained that there were three different reading groups in his class, and he was in the lowest level. I asked him what he had problems with when it came to reading, and he did not have an answer. He looked lost, and it broke my heart. When I told him that whatever it was, we would figure it out and get him back to the level of the rest of the class, he looked like he wanted to cry. Teaching kids how to read provides certain affirmations that one is making a difference, and I can say in all honesty this is one of them.
We worked every day after school, and I went through drill after drill with him. I never lost my patience, and when I could see him start to get it, I almost wanted to cry as well. His grades started to improve, and I could tell his confidence level was going through the roof. His teacher actually came to me one day after school when I was picking up my own children and thanked me for volunteering for teaching kids how to read, because Michael was doing so much better!
Teaching kids how to read is such a rewarding experience. Michael is now in middle school and doing quite well. I periodically talk to him, and he always thanks me for doing what I did to help him when he was in elementary school. That is another affirmation!