Editor’s note: African American Children are being left behind educationally at an early age and we must do something about it if we want to see our children successful. Ms. Ora Wills has researched and written what it takes and it is our intent to reach as many parents are possible to help them in the quest to help educated our children and parents. In this three part series, we will identify the problem and offer solutions to those that are interested
When it comes to education, African American children are being left behind at the start. Why? Because they are not being taught their ABC’s numbers, shapes and colors during the years from birth to three.
Ora Wills, a retired teacher and resident of Pensacola knows too well the pitfall of African American children. “The problem lies in the homes. The majority of students in the targeted schools who are underperforming are African American, low-income students whose parents lack parenting skills.” She stated. “One rarely sees these parents with their children in bookstores or libraries.”
To “fix” the problem, parents must take an active role in their child’s education. That means encouraging parents to first, learn parenting techniques that research has shown successful parents practice. Once parents have been made aware of what they must do, attention must be focused on the children who should be observed and encouraged to talk about what gets them excited. Books/reading materials that feed their passions should be provided and made available. If a girl is interested in Justin Bieber or the latest craze, let them have at it. Whatever kids indicate as a current passion will be read with active engagement. Their passion will be read with active engagement. Their passions will change over time, and youngsters will move from one to another. As words are learned and vocabulary increases, kids will move into increasingly more challenging materials.
Wills used to teach writing at UWF and one of the texts she used included an essay titled Let ‘em Read Trash. “The author chronicled his journey from trashy reading materials to classics, a journey that parallel my own and that of just about every avid reader I have known.
It’s true that I had always seen someone in my home reading, so it seemed that reading should be a part of one’s existence. My grandparents were very much the ones Alice Walker writes of in her poem “Women”-head ragged generals-who knew what we needed to succeed without having experienced any of it themselves.
What we need now are modern-day, head ragged generals to march into certain neighborhoods and round up parents and enroll them in a “Baby College” experience if they haven’t a clue as to how to lure their children into the magic of reading.
A “Baby College” experience is what Paul Tough in his book “Whatever it Takes” talks about addressing “parent problems,” where they may lack insight into what it takes to raise children successful in the academic pursuits and in life and teaching a successful method.
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