About two weeks ago a father came to see me with his 8-year-old daughter. He had heard that I might be able to help him figure out why she was having problems with learning. I was busy at that time with one of our Math Drills so we set an appointment for later.
He came last Friday. We had another Math Drill going on, but everything was under control, so I took some time to evaluate his daughter. She and I sat on the couch in the library while the father sat on a chair nearby and watched everything we did. First I used some of Lily's kindergarten readers to evaluate her reading ability. Although she tried, it was obvious that she could not read. Then I grabbed some Scrabble tiles and randomly pulled some out. She could identify all of the letters and knew some of the sounds. As I made 3-letter words and taught her how to sound them out, she quickly caught on. By the end of that exercise she was reading nearly all of the 3-letter words I made.
At one point the father interrupted me and said, "Do you train teachers?"
I said, "Well, we're just starting to do some teacher training."
Then I moved on to using dice for addition and then a puzzle that dealt with numbers and sequencing. She quickly caught on to everything I was doing.
I had her write so I could check her pencil grip and how she was forming her letters. Even before she picked up the pencil, I had observed that she was a lefty. Her pencip grip was correct and she formed her letters correctly. I asked her to spell some 3-letter words which she did. I told the father that it is not a problem that she is a lefty and that he should not try to make her change her hand. He said he used to make her change her hand, but then someone told him that being a lefty is not a problem so he stopped.
We ended by playing a game of concentration with the three of us. She really enjoyed that and handily won.
While the little girl stayed in the library and looked at books, her father and I went to a nearby classroom to discuss the evaluation. I said, "Do you know what's wrong with your daughter? Nothing. Her mind is fine. It's just that she has not really been taught."
He said that he pulled her out of her school during the past year because he felt that she wasn't learning anything there. There were at least 40 students in her 2nd grade class. He himself is a high school Physics teacher. When he gets home, if he's not too tired, then he tries to teach her.
They live about an hour away from Jos so it's not possible for her to come to our school. The father was clearly grieved about what his next step should be. As he is teaching other children, his own child is not receiving a decent education.
In reality, this little girl is blessed to have a living mother and father who are so concerned about her education. Because of their concern, I believe they will figure out a solution.
We have many orphans in our school, and we serve as both the teachers and the parents of these children. But there are still many other orphans who have no advocate.