Qamar Riaz

Deputy Director Audit , Auditor General of Pakistan

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How will you teach A B C to kids who are out of school?

One day, i came across a kid who was looking for something in garbage. He looked like 4 years old, bare feet, as dirty as you can imagine. I was shocked to see this kid who seems to be living in slums nearby. He desperately looked for some time and found a rotten apple. He started eating it without knowing anything about that fruit. He left me in Awe, what would have been my reaction if i have seen my own kid doing this?
I suddenly found myself in a world where millions of kids are forced to live like this. This question turned into a more vast subject of my study and turned into a question which i asked almost everyone around. Why 7 million kids are out of school in Pakistan?
I started travelling across to find these kids and my thumb rule was very simple to look for these kids during school time which is usually between 8am to 2 pm in Pakistan. I found them in segments which are poor. They are either playing with industrial waste or learning begging or doing nothing. They are found doing labor while other kids are learning in class rooms. I found scores of them in my own native village and many of them of on roads during school time or playing in streets. The common thing was Poverty and their parents are too ignorant about their education and they are themselves uneducated to teach them anything.
Now i have identified 10 out of school kids and trying to teach them three things, Identification of Alphabets, Basic Hygiene and basic ethics of life.
So how would you teach them A to Z ? Just share your out of box solution to teach a single alphabet which you may have used to teach your own kid?

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    Jul 17 2013: I would start from drawing. Let them color or draw out the letters of the alphabet. Kids love drawing, an activity with which they can both have fun and subconsciously memorise letters of the alphabet. You don't need to force them as they will just do it without even knowing what they are getting into. You can also use a book with dots that form letters for them to join the dots, and by doing this, they gradually improve their handwriting. And believe it or not, good handwriting gives children more confident in learning.

    Writing and reading would take more time then learning how to pronounce. So once they start to familiarise themselves with the alphabet, you can use whatever method you want to teach them how to pronounce correctly.
    Usually kids love visual images and sound, so video is the best choice. On youtube there is a series that I think you can use
    Moreover, when you teach them pronunciation of a letter, try to relate it with an alphabet of the native language, this would make it easier for them.

    Afterwards, you can make them sing the alphabet song and even sing it backwards! And maybe carry out a competition where you name an alphabet letter, and they have to say what letter goes before or after it.

    These methods I have never applied to my kids. But the the writing one is what my mom taught me when I was little, I still find it very effective now.
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    Jul 17 2013: Our Activity Based Coaching Model followed following way to teach A

    Materials We used: Apples, soap, clean water, towel and dustbin
    Theory: “children learn “a” when they eat apple and say apple”
    Activity 1
    Before distributing apples show them how to eat an apple. Wash your hands with soap and dry it with towel. Then take the apple and wash it for 1 minute and show them how to eat. Announce competition 1 “ clean hands get apple”

    Only clean hands will get apple- the purpose is to ensure everyone has washed hands and dried. Once you ensure everyone has clean hands, declare everyone as winner and distribute apples.

    Activity 2
    Tell them story-1- Apple boy
    There was a boy who loves eating apples. He was very healthy because he eats apple daily. One day at his school when he was sitting under apple tree an apple fell over his head. He was very intelligent because he eats apple. He discovered apple always fell down on earth. He told this to other children and his teacher. His teacher was very happy to know his intelligence. The boy worked hard to know why apple fells down why dont go up. One day he discovered that our earth pulls everything down. He became scientist and everybody likes him. He became very famous and told other children that apple is good for health and studies. Everyone should eat apple.

    Activity 3
    Throw in dustbin – introduce dustbin to group.
    Show them how eat an apple
    Demonstrate throwing eaten apple into dustbin.
    Wipe your hands with handkerchief.

    Competition 2
    Make two groups and make two lines
    Throwing eaten apple in dustbin from a distance.
    Then We provided them a 4 pages book with all about Apple in simple story form.
    Feed Back
    Kids (3-5 years) learned quickly A and they identified A among other alphabets more quickly and pronounced accurately.

    In this way we tried to teach kids A and recorded all activity in videos. When we showed this video to other kids they were keen to learn it that way.
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      Jul 18 2013: Yes, this type of approach is common in preschools, with days devoted to different letters.
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    Jul 17 2013: Are you asking how to teach kids the alphabet or how to read?

    Where I live kids have usually had books read to them before they learn to read. They notice they are seeing combinations of the same letters and that the reader is decoding those sequences to find words the child can recognize and understand.

    In English kids learn that there are 26 letters. They have names, just like people have names, but they also make sounds, just like we make sounds. It is the sounds that allow us to put letters on a page and for others to know the words we wanted them to read.

    Here lots of kids learn what the letters are and the names they go by from a song that lists them.

    For reading kids need to learn the sounds the letters make. Many times the teaching of reading starts with books that convey a story with the repetition of small sets of sounds, so the child gets accustomed to those.

    The first that comes to my mind is a Dr. Seuss book called Hop on Pop. Pop is a recognized word for Dad. There is another Dr. Seuss book called Cat in the Hat.

    One can get a lot of small child story mileage out of cat hat sat mat bat fat pat rat used in different sequences with a few small words thrown in. The cat sat on the mat with the rat (illustrated with pictures). The rat sat in the hat of the cat.

    Hot cot dot not got pot lot ...

    Kids also are motivated to learn the letters in their own names and the sounds that make their names. For that reason, you might have learned Q as one of the first letters you learned, before others had need for that letter.

    In English, the vast majority of letters in text will appear in lower case, so the lower case letters and their sounds are often taught first.
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      Jul 17 2013: Fritzie, very thought provoking insight. You showed us the usual techniques to teach kids about alphabets.
      However, it would be great if you try to give us a simple method to teach one alphabet like A.
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        Jul 17 2013: The vowels in English are more difficult than most of the consonants, because vowels sound different depending on their contexts whereas most consonants have one sound.

        I think kids learn better in a practical context, so I would go with short words using the letter rather than single letters.

        You could read the first two letters in cat, bat, rat, hat and let a kid read the t to finish the words.