All of the kids I tutor will be sitting for their UPSR examination this year. Most of them started learning with me early this year. Within the first 3 months, they made major improvements. 4 out of 5 of them are no longer failing their English papers and I couldn't be happier for them.
Now, they have hit a wall. Their grades are not getting any better than a C. So, many many months ago, they were consistently failing. Now, they are consistently scoring C's. My happy feeling for them has now turned to worry.
These kids sit with me for one hour weekly. In one hour, they need to learn new words, understand the meaning and know how to use it in a sentence. Further to that, they need to put all the vocabulary they know into an essay. They also need to read with the correct pronunciation. It is not an easy feat. There are times when we only have time to learn new words. Sometimes, we can only read. Other times, we can only afford to create different sentences using the same grammar rule. It takes time. And because there is much to learn, much more is not learned, causing their grades to be stuck.
Now, I'm not much of a grade junkie. But the stagnant grade is also an indication that what they are learning now, are things they should have mastered at least 2 years ago. They are behind.
I have come to realize that they only learn and speak English when they sit with me. In that little time we have together, they take in as much as they can. Every student's absorbs at a different rate. And each one absorbs different things, based on their capabilities. Clearly, this is not enough. I could double, even triple the time they sit with me. But the time they spend learning with me is not the main solution.
These kids need consistency. Which means that they need to be speaking and reading in English at home. When they get the exposure at home, they connect what they learn faster and easier.
So how can you help your kids read and speak at home?
Encourage them to read. Get books that your kids are interested. Even if it is comics that they love. You know what's even better? You pick a book yourself. Let your children want to read because they follow your habit of reading. When our kids read something they like, chances are, they will want to know the meaning of what they are reading. They will start asking. They will look for the meaning. They will learn!
Encourage them to speak. Even if they start with saying words in English. This alone will build their vocabulary so when they learn the grammar rules and sentence structure, they can connect the dots.
It has to start at home. Habit from home and reinforcement in the education system will help our kids learn at a consistent rate that will help them be good at the language.