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performed by the student. The case study took place in the classroom environment, as part of the students part time job in Early Childhood Education, where there are normative and special education students present. The case study objectives involved problem solving, strategy implementation, and differentiated instruction. The specific area of focus in the case study is difficulty with literacy or reading.
This was a challenging situation because the case study took place in an Early Childhood Education setting. At this stage, there is not much evidence of literacy. At this point in development, most of the students are emerging as readers. That is not to say that there is no evidence of literacy, as literacy does begin with the identification and memorization of letters. In the classroom where my case study took place, there were a total of fifteen students on any given day. There was usually one leader teacher, which rotated depending on the schedule, and two to three assistant teachers. The founders of the Early Childhood Center would visit on a regular, yet sporadic basis, and often offered to provide additional supervision when they were not occupied with administrative activities. This would provide the lead teacher more of an opportunity to engage with the parents during pick up and drop off times, as well as allow for the lead teacher (more often than not) to perform behavior modification or applied behavior analysis techniques for the children either showing early signs of disabilities or those who have already been diagnosed formally with some kind of learning or intellectual disability. There are no children present with physical disabilities. All the students present normal to exceptional development physically.
I chose to narrow the group of students for this case study. I wanted to narrow my focus to the student with emerging or present special needs, as well as the children who may be borderline normative-special needs students, so as to extend the context within which I would consider behaviors and literacy competencies. I chose one particular boy, Kai, for this case study. Kai will be turning three in the coming months. His parents come from different cultural backgrounds. His father is American (Caucasian) and his mother is Japanese. Kai had a great deal of difficulty adjusting to "school" when he first began. He had a language delay compared to the other students. I was not certain as to whether he experienced this delay because of a developmental delay or because of some other reason of which I was unaware. Nonetheless, his delay intrigued me in relation to the objectives and goals for the case study. I decided that Kai would be my primary focus, while I would still pay close attention and consideration to three other students with relative abilities to Kai's.
Though many children at this stage are not reading or not reading with great facility, the children have a keen awareness regarding reading and literacy. Part of what fascinates them about adults is that adults have the power to read at will. Every student at this Early Childhood Education facility really enjoys when the adults read stories to them, individually, as a large group, and in small groups. Therefore, there is a clear line between being read to and being able to read for these young students. Another reason I selected this student, Kai, for my case study is that I noticed a number of students who were the most socially apt were also the students that showed the most potential and progress for literacy. Another student, Luna, for example, can read some words and has an exceptional vocabulary. This is part because three languages are spoken in her household. She has a keen interest in reading and writing already, and this shows evidence in her social skills. She has more words with which to resolve conflict, describe her feelings, and may more intricate requests from teachers than the other students, such as "Teacher, may I please have a cup of water with my lunch?" whereas Kai might say something such as, "Water, please."
Command of language and literacy have a direct connection to social skills and social power. Kai does not have many friends at school. He is at an awkward stage with his speech development. He is not a part of the younger group of students who only know their names and just a few words because they are so young, yet he is not quite at the same level as his peers who are slightly older who have more language, better memories, and higher literacy rates. They can read some words. They can locate some of their favorite books so that a teacher will read the book with them. This brings them more satisfaction and other students look to them with admiration because they can see how this child is able to get what he/she wants with relative ease to them. I believe Kai to be one of these kids who is on the outside looking in because of his literacy delays and lack of social skills (and friends). Kai does not have an antisocial personality, so I perceive his lack of friends to be related to several factors, including his literacy delay, and not say, because he is a mean or violent child to others.
Studying an individual child helped me understand the psychology of the struggling reader more intensely, certainly. I learned a lot about Kai as a result, with the help of the other teachers and meetings with his parents. I learned that Kai is a very sensitive young boy, which can be both an asset and a liability, socially and developmentally. His father explained that Kai sometimes internalizes his feelings instead of expressing them, and may retreat from others, a practice that they are helping him come out of. Therefore, Kai's shyness as it relates to literacy and socializing, comes from additional information regarding his psychology. Studying this one child helped me understand the complexities and layers in the psychology of the struggling readers, as well as provided insight into the psychology of the child with special needs to a certain (general) extent. This case study made more transparent the kind of pressure there is for children to be literate and how literacy is an important factor in early development as well as self-perception and self-confidence.
There are lots of things that are print driven, there are materials, there are instructions, there's the amount of time during the day that is given to reading, there are all the books that are all over the place. There's also the very obvious excitement of the kids that are progressing normally and doing well. All of these things tend to deliver a pretty powerful message to the child that is struggling that is very threatening and frightening; that your not progressing as other kids are, you are not learning, you're not unlocking this great mystery. We have all of these words on the board, words on posters, words on paper, words in books… everywhere a kid turns in school they're confronted with print. And if you see yourself being excluded from the process of becoming familiar with this, learning how it works, taking pleasure in it, being excited about being able to be autonomous and independent, then I think that's a very potent emotional message that children get, and potentially a very damaging one. (Ganzin, 2012)
As an adult, I do not precisely recall the social context or social pressures when I was in Early Childhood Education to read because many people do not recall that early part of their lives with precision or clarity. I also do not recall social pressure because I learned to read at an early age, so I did not feel the same pressure as a struggling reader. I felt a different kind of social pressure: the pressures from other kids wanting me to read for them or to them, as well as the negative feelings toward me for being able to read when others could not or were struggling immensely. Still, though my experience in literacy and Kai's experience in literacy are quite different, studying this individual child helped me as a teacher in many ways, including to reference my personal experience to help inform (to a certain or limited extent) my attitudes and perspective on the psychology of the struggling reader.
This case study has already influenced me as a teacher. I definitely make sure that I read more than one book to students a day. I read books to the entire group, I read stories to them as part of the naptime routine, and I read stories to individuals or pairs, especially the kids who are struggling with literacy or are younger and do not possess adequate means for speech production yet. I read the books differently as well. Of course, I read every word and pronounce them correctly while maintaining a natural, flowing tone, appropriate for the content. In the sections that are particularly…[continue]
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