Sound Awareness and Shoelaces

By Brooke Long, 2017-18 Literacy First Tutor

Many of the Literacy First tutors are surprised by how much more there is to their teaching experience than just the tutoring session. Literacy First certainly helps the children we serve, who are as young as five in the program but we often help the tutors learn life skills as well. Brooke, a first-year tutor, muses on a pleasant reoccurring task she’s discovered.

When I first began my service with Literacy First, it evaded me that working with such young students means tutors needed to be prepared for the little things that kids need help with.

Perhaps my favorite little thing was finding out just how many times I would have to tie shoes.

Now, I instinctually tap my knee if I see flopping laces. My students usually put their foot up for help while rambling about the latest visit with their cousin, or the time their mom worked a miracle of time and space (as parents often do).

The first kindergartener that I graduated told me that I tied his shoes the way his mom does, and I asked if she was left-handed. He chirped a big “yup!” ….

…and we had that same conversation a few more times before he informed me we tie his shoes the same way because we’re both left-handed.

“Is that so?” I asked, smiling, and he very seriously remarked that we both teach him how to read, too.

The speed with which he was able to learn everything in class, the obvious support he was receiving at home, along with the instruction I was able to offer him through Literacy First—it all highlighted that it takes an extended network to support one another. Last semester I was part of a team that helped teach a kindergartener how to read, and between his mom and I, we’ve very nearly taught him how to tie his shoes, too.

It’s those little things that keep me grounded. It can be difficult some days when I worry if I’m making progress with some of my students, but then I remember some of us are still learning how to tie our shoes.

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