By Leslie Lindsay
It’s been a busy and somewhat challenging 2nd grade year for 8 year old Kate, who suffers from Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). Having been dismissed from speech therapy during her tenure as a full-day kindergartner, we thought we were out of the woods. But, those of you raising a child with CAS know that you may never truly, 100% be completely out of the woods. There will likely be some twigs and branches that obstruct your view.
When Kate’s 2nd grade teacher mentioned Kate really enjoys participating in Reader’s Theater in the classroom setting, I cheered. Fluency with reading is one of those “branches,” if you will that may leave your child with CAS lingering in the woods. When the Reader’s Theater Club was forming, I promptly signed my daughter up.
But wait–what is Reader’s Theater? Simply stated, Reader’s Theater is practice reading scripts from traditional and well-loved childhood stories. Or, you can choose your own–select stories which are lively in dialogue, have several characters, and can be fun to ‘act’ out. Just remember, there is no memorizing, props, costomes, stages, or the like. It is simply reading with inflection. According to an article on Scholastic.com, here are some of the benefits of Reader’s Theater:
- develop fluency through repeated exposure to text.
- increase comprehension.
- integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening in an authentic context.
- engage students.
- increase reading motivation.
- create confidence and improve the self-image of students.
- provide a real purpose for reading.
- provide opportunities for cooperative learning.
For weeks, Kate stayed after school and worked in small groups lead by teachers who volunteered to stay after school sharpening and honing these kiddos projection, fluency, articulation, confidence, and teamwork–all important life skills, but also skills for strengthening her experiences with CAS.
Last week was Kate’s final performance. I am happy to say, she was the best little “narrator #2″ I ever heard. When another parent who knows Kate’s struggles leaned over and whispered, “She did really good,” my heart soared. You just never know how your children with CAS may surprise you!
For more information, please see these resources:
- Impelementing Reader’s Theater as an Approach to Classroom Fluency Instruction http://www.thebestclass.org/rt.html
- What is Reader’s Theater? http://bms.westport.k12.ct.us/mccormick/rt/whatrt.htm
- From Scholastic http://www.scholastic.com/librarians/programs/whatisrt.htm