I've struggled to know what to say or not to say in case I say too much and offend. I never want my girls to feel this blog is something they dread because I share about our family. But then, God keeps telling me to share this story so someone who needs help can hear it, have hope and see what we've seen. One of our girls has struggled to learn from books. Reading was hard. Comprehension is tough. Math was easy for most of her school until she hit grade 6. She has always loved hands on activities. She learns best by doing and she learns best by organizing her thoughts with color. She has to see it to know it and to see it, it has to be colorful. Once she gets it, it's there. But getting her to that point has been nothing short of a miracle.
As a homeschool mom, the journey of teaching this child had brought me to my knees many a night. I felt like a failure often. Why can't I help her learn? What am I missing? As a trained teacher, I felt this was the challenge...to learn how she learns best and teach that way. Everything that worked with the "typical" student, did not work with her. So I kept digging. I kept praying. I kept trying new things. I kept hearing God tell me to keep doing what we were doing on those days I worried I was ruining her.
God cares for His kids. He places them where they need to be for what He needs them to learn. I know this is true, because we lived it. My girl could not read and I was struggling to find a way to teach her. God lead me to a co-op where there was a mom who would tutor kids with reading struggles using Orton-Gillingham approach, which is what they use for dyslexic kids. Her son was dyslexic and she tutored through the local dyslexic group. So she was a wealth of information, still is. I was able to see where my girl was growing quickly. After three years of her tutoring my sweet gal, she released her from tutoring. My girl could read. She was able to read at grade level. And the world was good....until middle school hit.
Once in middle school, we noticed a drastic change in her ability to comprehend what she was reading. Grades started to suffer because she couldn't remember what she was reading. So I sought help. Through some testing and such, we learned a lot about our girl, most of which we already knew but it was good to see that we do know her and we weren't messing her up. Regardless, daily work was painful for her. And to see a child struggle is one thing. To hear them suffer and feel stupid, well that breaks the teacher momma's heart. So I started researching options for a little assistance as we figured out that the reason school got so hard at the middle school level was because they now are required to use higher level thinking skills which could not be highlighted in the book with pretty colors, or color coded note cards. This meant, she had to recall the story, make inferences and write what she concurred. For a kid with dyslexic tendencies...that is so difficult.
In my research and my hunt to find answers, I found that in my girls mind, she does not make a movie picture of the books as she reads, like her sister would. For example, when we read a story, we "see" that story running through our minds like a movie. For her, there is no movie. So no movie equals not able to pull information for recall which means not able to make those higher level thinking questions work. So I came across a program that I wanted for her to be taught which would teach this skill. We found a couple companies that would work. One wanted her to attend for 6 weeks this summer for 4-5 hours each day at a price tag of 12,000!!! Holy cow! Then the one we used chose to have us come 6 hours a week, two days a week through summer. Then we went for four hours two days a week this fall. Right now she is taking a break until end of January and then we go back for one hour sessions twice weekly. During these sessions, they are training her how to take what she reads, create that movie in her mind to allow her to pull from that to connect the higher level thinking skills. This option was much cheaper, but still very pricey. But wait til you hear the payoff....
My sweet girl has NEVER picked up a book to read for enjoyment. EVER! I just assumed, at the time, it was a personality thing. She also NEVER unpacked her day driving around or arriving home as her sister had. Again, I assumed it was a personality thing. But I've found that is not true!! It's a brain wiring thing! As the tutors worked with my girl, she started getting in the van and unloading her day with me, as her sister has always done. She talked the entire 45 minute ride home often. Other times, she worked so hard she sat in silence. We called that brain tired! I get that! But to see those moments connect for her and make sense in a way she could retell was nothing short of amazing. There were times I felt overwhelmed at listening to all she shared because it was music to my ears, answer to prayers and I didn't want it to end.
About a month ago, a sweet friend watched her while my husband and I went to Chicago. She shared a movie with her which sparked an interest in reading the book. I had not read the books, seen the movie nor did I want to honestly. So I talked it over with my man and we decided at her age, if she is asking for a book, we buy it and talk through any issues that pop up. So we did. My girl was found sitting on her bed of all things....READING!!! My child was reading a book for pleasure!!! She finished that first book in two weeks. Begged to buy the second book and finished it in three days! We are now on the third book and believe she will finish it this weekend. I can't tell you what it does to this momma to see what you've always known to be true...you child is more than capable. She is achieving things at a pace I'm amazed.
Some would have written her off. They would have said I needed to be realistic at what she can do. They would have said she just "can't " do what I want her to do. They would have said put her in school because they have "trained" professionals to do what you can't. They would have said she just can't learn.I know that because it has been said to me by professionals, family and friends. But God had placed on my heart early on to teach these girls the way they learn...the way He created them. So as I stepped out of the box, I learned that ALL God's children can learn. We just have to find the way He wired them to do so and then pour everything we have into that way until the light comes on and they soar on their own. I'm not saying school is easy. I'm not saying she doesn't get frustrated. But you know what, my girl is reading for pleasure, tackling school work independently and downloading her day to me more and more and I could not be more grateful! Bottom line to that mom who is ready to quit...pray, keep going until you find the answer, ask lots of questions and never give up on your child. The pay off is priceless!