Under a black flag we sail, and the sea shall be our empire

Under a black flag we sail, and the sea shall be our empire

This summer there many children, especially the youngest ones, who feel adrift as they have never experienced school in the traditional way. Those kids with disabilities or delays are particularly at risk. Here are some sobering statistics on the literacy crisis according to Thinkimpact, an educational research company:

  • 54% of adults have a literacy level below 6th grade.
  • Low levels of literacy cost the US up to 2.2 trillion dollars per year.
  • 34% of adults who lack proficiency in literacy were born outside the US.

Not only are many young children today delayed in academic skill acquisition, but many times they also have a heightened propensity for social-emotional problems. At Performance Learning Job One is improving writing, speaking, and thinking skills. Job 2 is to help coach young students on strategies to be more productive learners in the classroom. The University of Kansas Strategic Instructional Model includes the SLANT strategy to assist student with attention and processing issues. The mnemonic is:

Sit up, Lean forward, Activate thinking, Name key information, and Track the talker.

The challenge, how do you get reluctant learners to engage in the learning process? Of course, Make It Fun! The tutoring center was transformed into a pirate lair for two weeks with the kids (and sometimes siblings) engaging in activities of running through an obstacle course on “The Island” chasing sight words, word card games, building projects, tying knots, drawing pirates, and earning gold coins to enter the Treasure Chest.

Pirates Island

Ship building and knot tying

The SLANT protocol is reinforced through all these active learning tasks to help them internalize the steps.

Parents are delighted that their children want to come to class and they, and their children, are proud of their academic and behavioral progress. As the kids navigate the stormy seas of education in the fall, learning a new set of skills and strategies will help them conquer their empires.


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