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Volume 1 • #9 • May 2002


Break out the cigars! We just had a baby. Well, in a manner of speaking. The new baby is the junior version of RfS/EL, modified for use with second, third and fourth graders. The print is a little larger, the words and sentences are geared to younger children, but the phonics presentation and, of course, EL are the same.

The nice thing about teaching little kids is that you can get them up to speed in one year, or occasionally two. If you start to teach a ninth grader who is reading at about fifth grade level, you have a five year gap to make up, so it takes at least two, and often three years of teaching to do it. On the other hand, a number of my eight and nine year old kids have made the honor roll in middle school and gone on to graduate from high school with honors without help beyond their one year of tutoring in elementary school. This saves the school system a tidy sum of money, even if RfS pupils are taught two at a time instead of six or eight in a resource room. And of course it avoids years of misery and frustration for the student. So the sooner a child can read the better.

It is terrible to go through life in this world associating dread with the printed word. There is another delightful way to disassociate nausea with the sight of a book. When my sister and I were little girls, the high point of the day came after supper when Daddy would sit down on the couch with one small child on each side of him, light up a cigar, and read to us.This went on long after we could read perfectly well, ourselves. We went through all the Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Tom Sawyer, Treasure Island, The Arabian Nights, and everything else you can think of. Daddy loved to ham it up and was a wonderful story teller. I will always remember those cozy evenings filled with fabulous stories.

But there was something else that lingered with me after I grew up and started having children. During the first three months of each pregnancy, although I was a smoker, I couldn’t bear the smell of cigarettes. But the smell of freshly lit cigar never bothered me at all!

So break out the cigars, metaphorically speaking, and get your little students reading as fast as you can. And the in the meantime, read, read, read.

Teaching Tip:

I have been giving out all the teaching tips so far, and I always strongly recommend that if possible get a tutor to teach your kid, because it is so difficult for parents to be casual and comfortable with a failing child. On the other hand, I get e-mails from an occasional mom who seems to be able to make it work. Maybe it is time for you to send the tips to me if you have succeeded in teaching your own kid without driving both of you crazy. How do you do it? The world wants to know. I will pass on any that seem helpful.



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