F.arid fights with every syllable. “Leon and I help mom,” he reads from a primer for the first grade, which means: Farid whispers individual letters, strings them together, and when he is sure of what it says, he speaks clearly. Or when he gets impatient. “In housework,” says Farid, and you can really see how relieved the boy from a primary school in Frankfurt – whose real name is different, like all the children described in this article – is: he made another line! “Almost right, you guessed it well,” he gets in reply, “but take a very close look at the end of the last word.” Farid whispers again. “In the household,” he then says, and now both of them are happy, the reading boy and his adult listener: another line done.
Adult listeners were regular visitors to Farid’s school until the lockdown, volunteer reading mentors who usually sit down in a cozy corner with a single child once a week during class time and give him what he does best in learning to read further helps: undivided attention and patience. A little hint or help in the event of an error. An encouragement when it is difficult and recognition when it works. Saskia Ghribi, principal of a primary school in Frankfurt’s Schwanheim district, mentions the work of the reading mentors as providing great support: “There is often not enough time for individual practice phases when learning to read in class, especially for children who need support. And at home, some of these children’s parents just don’t have the time or expertise to help them. “