Towards A Kinder, Gentler Childhood

Carole Martin, M.A., CCC–A/SLP, Director
Scottish Rite Clinic for Childhood Language Disorders
1820 Capitol Avenue, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82001

Only two more years are left in this century, yet there are still adults and children who cannot read. Even in 2nd and 3rd grades, these kids know they are different. The real pain of this situation is the loss of wonder and hope in childhood, the precious belief that all things are possible.

In Cheyenne, Wyoming, the Scottish Rite Clinic for Childhood Language Disorders has been working with groups of children, grades two to six, for the last two years to improve both reading and writing skills. Using a phonics based approach, the clinic has provided children with basic tools to assist in reading and spelling. Last summer, for instance, we played phonics baseball. When a child hit a “home run,” he or she was just as proud as if the feat had won a Little League competition. Sound bingo and sound/symbol activities are just a few other strategies being used. It’s a joy to see the kids succeed.

While the first year of this program focuses on phonics, spelling and reading, the second year focuses on writing skills. One recent graduate has become an active writer, carrying his writing notebook everywhere he goes. Yet the first day in the clinic, he could not write a six-word sentence in less than five minutes without lots of assistance. In another case, an astounded parent came to the clinic one Monday to report her child had spent Saturday morning writing instead of watching television!

The children are excited, and we are planning to put all their stories together as a book. These collections are more than just scrapbooks. They are books for a kinder, gentler childhood with the opportunity to succeed. In effect, they represent the return of childhood to kids who would have otherwise missed out.