Helping our children

By Enid Westerlund 11 February 2024, 3:00PM

This month, I had one goal in mind and that is to help more children in Samoa read. The foundations of learning keep me up at night. I think of all the children in my family and my district needing help with basic literacy and numeracy. Isn’t this the first step to success? If our statistics in early education and primary education are dire, why aren’t more people helping? Why aren’t more educated and adults helping? Are we just waiting for a handout? We begin in our little corner.

How can I help more kids read? By putting energy into developing an evidence-based reading program. There is no perfect program but there are a few that work. My team and I have been teaching over 300 kids to read since 2022. The average child in our program with consistent attendance will be reading at the end of 30 to 50 hours. This isn’t the child who is topping their class, far from it. This is the genius who comes to us with basic phonics and just beginning to learn. These are the year two to year seven students with good focus and attention span.

By the time children reach year eight, it’s already a struggle in every single subject. I feel sad for kids who come to me in year 8 and high school who cannot even read a simple paragraph. Who is responsible for this? Parents? Teachers? The student? It’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure the success of their child.  Our education system is not equipped to pass every child. The ministry can only do so much, but we begin with us, the parents.

Bring back a’oga faifeau, aoga Aso Sā. Better yet, let us go back to the basics of teaching our three- to five-year-olds the alphabet, Pi tautau before they attend preschool and primary school. Let us teach our kids basic mathematics alongside manners before we send them out into the world. Let’s start there.  While we are at it, let us support teachers and spend time helping with homework, getting involved with our children’s learning, and progress reports before they finish primary school. This is how we know how our child is doing.

Then do something about it before they move on to the next class if their results aren’t good. While we are enjoying another Sunday Samoa, please spend time with your children, and face-to-face interaction. I know having technology and phones is a challenge, it’s addictive but personal interaction is always better than a screen. I will share more about this in my next article.

Enid Westerlund is a regular columnist for this newspaper. She is an aviation specialist, business consultant, author and loves teaching children to read on the weekend. 

By Enid Westerlund 11 February 2024, 3:00PM
Samoa Observer

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