Today I am one proud mama. You see, my second grader came home with all A's on his report card. "Big Deal," some (most) of you will say. And I completely understand. I mean, how hard is second grade... really? I know where you're coming from, because I taught it for five years - in a very competitive private school at that. But I am so proud of my second grader.
Why? Because my incredibly funny, athletic, good-looking boy with a knack for math has dyslexia. My son can't read on level. Letters and words have never made sense to Jackson. (I taught in a school that specialized in teaching children with dyslexia when he was in preschool and saw many "red flags" even at that young age.) While most of his friends read Magic Treehouse books and other chapter books, my eight-year-old is tutored two days a week by a private learning center, and has been for the past two years. While his older brother went to summer camp in the mountains of North Carolina, Jackson spent four weeks living with his grandparents so that he could attend a summer program at an Orton-Gillingham accredited school specifically catering to dyslexic children. Reading exhausts him. Last year (in first grade), he would say it made him feel stupid.
Here are quotes from some famous dyslexics just like my Jackson and what they remember about school:
When I had dyslexia, they didn't diagnose it as that. It was frustrating and embarrassing. I could tell you a lot of horror stories about what you feel like on the inside.
I was, on the whole, considerably discouraged by my school days. It was not pleasant to feel oneself so completely outclassed and left behind at the beginning of the race.
I couldn't read. I just scraped by. My solution back then was to read classic comic books because I could figure them out from the context of the pictures. Now I listen to books on tape.
But this year has been different. No, he didn't all of a sudden start to read. (He will always struggle with reading. He will have many, many, many ups and downs.) Now, he understands his learning difference. He accepts it. He knows that he is in very good company - thanks to his experience this summer! He has started using the strategies and coping skills he will have to use for the rest of his life. Also, he has a wonderful teacher whom God has blessed us with. I tell Mrs. Sanborn that all the time. I know God placed her in our path for Jackson. She understands his needs for accommodations and extra time with work. She gives his reading comprehension tests orally. She looks for alternative (not to be confused with easier) academic assessments to help him succeed. He loves school and looks forward to it every morning.
So hats of to Jackson. I am so, so, so proud of you!