When children and adolescents leave The Reading Language Gym they are asked to reflect on their learning and leave a message for other children with barriers to learning. Here are some of the letters:
A: Grade 7 : A description of the Reading Language Gym
A pink building around the roundabout. White roses at the wall, smiling you in. Another smile as you open the door. A wall of hearts showing the kindness of the Gym. A comphy sofa strewn with animal hot water bottles. A book shelf with a rambling selection of exciting literature, a new story in each book. In the whirring computer room you hear the loud voice of someone reading out loud and the stooping voice of someone syllabising a word. But, the life and soul of the Reading Gym is in the wonderful women who run it, giving it meaning and worth, making it the wonderful place it is.
D: Aged 14 Grade 9
My name is D, I am 14 and in Grade 9 at X School. One of my major skills is being artistic. My hobbies are as follows: skateboarding, surfing and most of all school sports, and I have a wide spread of interests like music, movies, pictures and series.
Why I came to train at The Reading Language Gym:
In the beginning of my reading gym experience I really didn’t see the point that was until my last session and that’s when I realised that my reading and comprehending skill improved considerably, and now I can say I came here for a reason.
Things I learned and how I improved:
I learned many knew words which now are added to my list of vocab, and my reading was the biggest improvement I had.
Things I found interesting and things I found boring or difficult:
Going over old comprehensions even though not the most interesting and the difference between my bias marking and actual marking.
A message for other kids at The Reading Language Gym:
Listen to the trainers * NB
Spud books – never ending laughter
and never give up
S: Aged 16
Dear future learners,
My name is S and I have been at The Reading Language Gym for 6 months now, although it has felt like a few years. It’s all gone so fast and I’m going to miss the Speckled eggs, the comic strip laughs, and overall, all of you. You have taught me to have fun while I study, to slow down, think and then apply. I came here struggling with my grammar and needing to work on my comprehension as well as getting 50% for most of my tests. But (I) have successfully ticked that off my list of worries because for the past English exam I have come out with 60% for both comprehension and grammar. My wise advice for all the ones starting out here, or carrying on with the English, I advise you to just breathe, take a deep meaningful breath and smile. Keep getting something wrong? Well I have another famous quote for you: you try, you fall, you try, you fall, but the real failure is when you stop trying. Keep going, keep trying and you will succeed.
E: Aged 12 Grade 6
How I felt when I first came to the Reading Gym
I felt a bit scared because I didn’t know what to expect. I definitely felt very anxious.
Why I needed to train here:
I needed to improve my spelling and reading and just to become more confident at reading as well. I was very shy in class about reading out loud because I wasn’t very good. I was failing very badly because I didn’t know how to learn and I wasn’t good at learning spelling. Once my teacher asked the class what everyone got for their test and I had a really bad mark. I felt very embarrassed about my mark and having to say it aloud. My friends said, “I’m sure you’ll do better next time!” I didn’t really listen to them because I didn’t feel very clever. At the reading gym they are always telling me that I’m clever and that I can do it and that if I’ve tried hard it doesn’t really matter about the marks.
What I learned:
I learned that I have to try as hard as I can and that is enough. I mustn’t be hard on myself. Loads of people learn differently. The greatest people often have dyslexia and they think uniquely.
I learned that I’m fine. Sometimes I feel that I’m not very bright when I’ve tried hard and I still didn’t get a very good mark. I still need to work on loving myself for who I am.
I much better at reading now. Reading used to feel like someone looking over me telling me I’m not good enough and I never will be. But now I feel a lot better, but I think I still need to work on it all on my own. That’s what I think will be the hardest thing I will have to achieve . One of the sayings on the wall in the waiting room says, the hardest thing for me about dyslexia is how to spell it.” (still don’t know if I’m spelling it right) I think it mite relate to me and maybe help me through some tough spots.
A message for other children who learn differently:
If you are feeling sad and you can’t do it just believe in yourself and you must talk to someone that you trust. It doesn’t matter if you are angry or sad or whatever – just SPEAK.
C: Aged 12
My name is C. I am 12 years. I go to X school and I am dyslexic. Now I do not think that my life is horrible, it is very fun. My parents are not together but that is Ok. We all have our problems, it is what we do with it that counts.
My strengths are that I love sport. I am very friendly (just ask anyone!)
What I learned at the reading gym was obviously spelling, reading and writing but what I really learned was it is ok to have problems. It is not the end of the world it is ok to be different.
I changed schools at the end of last year. I used to go to (name of school). Firstly I only found out that I was dyslexic in Grade 5 when I moved schools. I thought that everyone either was dyslexic or took medication every day (ADD). I feel that it is OK to take medication – as long as it is the right type! Now that I have moved, I have a facilitator which feels strange. The work pace is much faster and the work is much harder because I was at remedial school. But I am learning more everyday and each day I miss (name of school) a little less, especially my friends. Change is sometimes good!
My message to other gym kids is that it is OK to have problems, it is what you do with your problems that counts. Just remember some famous people like Bill Gates and Albert Einstein were dyslexic! Hopefully you and I will be one of them one day!
L: Age 16, Grade 10.
How I felt when I first came to The Reading Language Gym:
When I first came to the Reading Gym I was sort of nervous and worried that I would not improve my marks in English. I had been going to extra remedial lessons since grade one at (name of school) and my English had not improved at all, so I did not know what to expect from the Reading Gym.
Why I needed to train:
I came to The Reading Gym to improve my English marks. When I first came here I was failing English with a low 40% over all. The Reading Gym helped me find out that the problem with my English is comprehensions, vocabulary and not reading for pleasure. I needed to learn comprehension skills and improve on my vocabulary as it also affected my marks in small ways in other subjects. I hated reading when I first started here, and that was a big problem because reading is a basic literature skill which I could not do properly.
I learned the comprehension skills I needed, and on how to improve my vocabulary. I also learned that the more I read, the more vocabulary comes up which helped a lot. My marks in English improved very quickly, which I did not expect, but it happened, now instead of worrying I’m going to fail English and maybe the year, I am happy to see that I can actually do well in English by getting 60% and I’m hoping to improve more.
A message for other children who train at The Reading Gym:
You shouldn’t be shy to come out with any problem in life and to get some help because you can improve even though you think you can’t.
Neale du Toit: Grade 12
Most children begin school when they’re 6 years old. Then they’re children who have the privilege to attend a pre-school. I am one of those children. I was privileged enough to attend a preschool and for this I am grateful. For if I hadn’t attended a preschool my parents would never have been made aware of the fact that I had severe coordination dysfunction and severe speech problems. Because my parents were aware of this, I attended a physio-therapist who helped with this problem for 13 years up until I was 14 years old.
Only one teacher was ever aware that I had this problem and this wasn’t because she was told it was because she also noticed my problems. She was my Grade R teacher, Mrs. Van der Horst. She was extremely supportive of my problems and gave me personal extra help in class. She gave me extra homework to help me keep up with the rate at which the rest of the class was moving. She is one of the main reasons why I am here today.
Many people think that being a preschool teacher is to be on a fun filled payed holiday where you get to see children grow up. This may all be true but what they don’t know is the extra work they put in after hours and the special attention they give each student. Teaching is said to be one of the hardest jobs to do and to have the lowest wages. This may be the case but I don’t think people become teachers for the money I think they teach because they love the way they feel after a day at work. If Mrs. Van der Horst hadn’t enjoyed her job and didn’t enjoy teaching I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today. School teachers are the ones who place the building blocks of life into your children’s minds further more they are being taken for granted. They play a major role in every single child’s life.
We need to come to the realization that our children are the future and for them to achieve success in the future we need dedicated and enthusiastic teachers. I believe that in order for our planet to achieve excellence on every level, we have to acknowledge the work our teachers are doing at school. The government and public need to recognize that without teachers, our planet would be a much different place.