This entry is a great coda to last week’s as it provides a glimpse into the kinds of things we look for as we go through the assessments.

The title plays on the ‘80s English pop band Tears for Fears, but our “tiers” are not of sadness, nor of fearfulness either for that matter.  Rather they are tiers based on the aforementioned RTI model whereby we group like-minded peers into small cohorts so they can learn together and at their own level.

Of course, some kids will need more help and some will need less; some will require individual attention, and some will be strong enough to help their peers.

And, the beauty of the RTI model is its mobility.  No one is ever stuck where they are and there is always room for improvement.

On the flipside, a child who tested well and whom we placed in Tier One may very well still require Toa help, but we won’t know that until we are firmly in the schools and in communication with the Standard One teachers.

Thus, for now, we move on with our “tiers for peers” and see where the chips fall.  Here are some cute examples of kids who will definitely need our help, at least for a little while.

Here’s an example of dyslexia from a child named Fred who wrote his name beautifully backward.

And dyscalculia from a child who drew a W instead of a 3.

This “mistake” below often makes me smile, these kids are so darn cute.  On the writing portion of the assessment, each student is asked to write from memory a few simple Swahili words.  They start off being very easy, words like baba and mama that the kids are taught and practice daily, but then they become increasingly harder like nyumba (house) and ng’ombe (cow).

These words are harder because the syllables they are comprised of contain complex consonants, i.e. not just a single consonant and vowel like “ba” or “ma,” but more complex formations like “nyu” and “mba.”  In Swahili, these complex consonant syllables are called mwambatano which is as hard to say as you would think!

We expect young kids, particularly in the early days of Standard One to be a bit shaky on these, so it’s no big deal if they don’t master these words on the first test.  Generally by six months and one year, they’ll have gotten the hang of it.  But I love how their minds work and imagine the inner dialogue to go something like this: “Oh boy.  This is hard.  Hmm.  This is really hard.  I know I know what a house is.  I also know what a cow is.  How to write, how to write….  I know!  Let me draw the word instead of writing it.  Maybe no one will notice!!”