Saturday, June 8, 2013
Reading Mum - São Paulo
My favorite day of the week during the school year is Thursday. From 8-10 am every Thursday morning, I am a reading mum at my kids' private school. The name "reading mum" is a little misleading--I am really a "listening mum" (and I would prefer "mom" but it's British English at their school). There are 23 second-graders who read me their 16-22 page books and I help them with pronunciation and difficult words. We sit on a bench in a corridor near their classroom and the other school kids pass by going to their activities--my own sons (1st graders) also stop by for a hug when they see me.
Why do I love it so? Second graders are funny. Really funny. I started posting on my facebook page a number of the "zen moments" I had with them. My favorite child (sorry, but I do have one, I can't help it) is at a moment in his boyhood that he does not like girls. So I like to tease him that his book this week (every week) is about princesses and he feigns death. Then he'll take the book and read it with every character as a boy (the princess becomes a soccer star) doing "boy" things (on the soccer pitch instead of at the castle). Yes, there are books with gender bias but not many. If there is gender bias, this particular boy will change it. The other way.
I also have had the opportunity to brush up on my British English. I can "humour" them rather than humor them now. Lorries deliver what trucks should bring. But when one of the girls read a story about Cinderella and one of the stepsisters was "stroppy", I crossed my fingers that my reader would not ask me what stroppy meant. Of course she asked. I said "rude." I was corrected by my British friends later, and of course I have already forgotten what they said.
Around 80% of the kids are Brazilian. You might think that the English native speakers would be the best readers but that is not necessarily true. The soccer-obsessed kid above is the best reader of all (no accent, excellent pronunciation and comprehension) and his parents are both Brazilian. In general I can tell who has parents who read with the kids at night, and who does not get the chance to practice after school.
I wish there were more ways to be involved directly with the kids at our school. And I believe that this school is more inviting to parents being involved than most others. The kids' first school here in Brazil (private but Brazilian language only) was not at all welcoming to "outside" help. I imagine that the public schools here probably don't ask or receive much help from the parents--but I'm out of my league. I just don't know.
Next week is my last Reading Mum of the year. Yesterday the school sent me a present of flowers and tea and biscuits to thank me. I should thank them. I will miss those 7 year old kids who sit as close as they can to me, snag a book and read about laughing hyenas, magic keys and fairy tales. Since my kids move to second grade in the fall, I will not be able to read with that age group again. Maybe I'll get me some first grade readers--I can hope!