I am a teacher in an inner-city London Primary. Anyone who has every made the mistake of starting a conversation with me about my class or education or childhood development will know how passionate I am about what I do and why I choose to dedicate so much time (and money!) on the 30 or so children under my wing each day. Teaching in London has taught me many things about myself. Not least, how lucky I was to grow up in a family where learning and growth was always encouraged. Where we had books and drawing materials at easy access at all times and when "I'm bored" was not met with a TV screen or a tablet computer but rather with the garden, a good book or some plastecine to muck about with. The support and opportunities I was given became the foundations I have built my life with. I took them for granted before... Rest assured I realise how lucky I have been now.My class is full of children with such potential in life - they are creative, inquisitive and enthusiastic (as, arguably, all children are) but sadly, the majority of them do not have the opportunities and support at home that myself and many of my friends did. Statistically, for these children to live an "average" life with an "average" income and at the "average" quality of life, they must perform 40% better than the national "average". They have to rise to the top percentiles to be given a shot at what people like me took for granted.
A big part of this progress is in reading. (Arguably, one of my favourite children past times.) The government expects children to simply "develop a love of reading" over their time in Primary school. This is a fabulous idea, no doubt in my mind at all... But the kids I teach don't have ready access to books at home, they aren't taken to libraries and they don't have the peace or the space to lose themselves in a good book. So we encourage them to read at school by creating cosy book corners which fit around 4 children at a time... What about the other 26 children? How do you develop a love of reading sitting bolt upright at a desk in a classroom? How many government officials sit at their dining table at home, tuck their chair under, and dive into the latest Harry Potter... Not many, I would have thought. Enjoying reading and losing yourself in books involves allowing your body to relax so your brain can take over. I asked my class where they enjoyed reading. They all answered with "the book corner" because "it's comfy", "it's quiet", "it smells good" (air fresheners). We decided we needed to make the classroom more like our book corner, so we could actually enjoy reading together. The school I work in is full of passionate professionals who pour their own time and money into the children and community. We work long hours and we spend what we can from our take home pay to give something back to the kids. But there is only so much we can do! With your help, we could do so much more. Our class plan is to fundraise in a variety of ways (the children are holding a bake sale and discussions of sponspored events have begun) in order to buy the items the children believe will improve their reading (approved by me and proven by research). We are looking to buy:
A variety of beanbags and large cushions to temporarily transform our carpet area into a "reading pit"
Some exercise balls for children who want to rock while they read (we have a lot of hyperactive / SEN children)
An adult table to use as a standing desk (which will also improve the writing of some of our SEN children - they make up 1/3 of my class)
Child sized camping chairs (surprisingly popular and comfortable, because they have arms and are scooped for comfortable sitting).
Second hand armchair / sofa (dreaming big here!)
Our target of £500 will make a sizable dent in this. Anything you can give will bring us closer to our dream being a reality.In addition to this, just knowing there are professionals / adults out there who believe in them and want more from their future will seriously help... More than you know!
Here are some pictures that have inspired us / what we have in mind:
(The above images have been taken from Pinterest and do not belong to me!)