On Friday, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Mr. Snyder’s class in Dalmatia, PA. He was the teacher last year that motivated his students to learn their spelling words, by putting money into a jar to buy a goat for a family in Africa. They met their goal last year and were able to buy two goats.
Mr. Snyder is now teaching 4th grade and he has 11 of the same students that he had 2 years ago. Those parents must be so excited. Did you know that it can take a new teacher up to 3 months to figure out how a child can learn effectively? Well, Mr. Snyder will not be needing to go through the learning curve with half of his students.
These amazing students are listening to the book Holes in their class. Mr. Snyder had invited me into his classroom via Skype to read chapters 17 and 18 to his students. Some of his students had prepared a summary of the book and information about the characters before I read to them. They told me about the characters Stanley, Armpit, and Zero.
In chapter 18 Zero is looking over Stanley’s arm as he is writing a letter to his family and tells Zero, who he feels is a nothing, to stop doing that. Zero asks Stanley if he can teach him to read, because he doesn’t know how to. Stanley refuses because his life is just too busy digging holes and he doesn’t want to take the time to help him.
This part of the book made me reflect on how children who struggle with reading really do feel about themselves. They feel less than, like everyone else is better than they are, and stupid. Louis Sachar did a great job when developing the character of Zero, because it helps us understand about how people’s self concept of themselves shapes who they are. Zero feels like a zero and a nothing and all he is asking for is a little help.
We don’t want our children feeling this way. So, if your child is struggling, the help them now before their self concept becomes too low and the gap continues to get bigger for him/her. Click on the video and hear an excerpt from this chapter.