Decision Time

The Twin Cities Marathon is less than a month away. New York Marathon is less than 2 months away. I’ve been (sort of) training all summer….more or less.  OK, less.

I had big plans back in May to have an incredible summer of training, and then life happened. Losing my father really took the wind out of me, and the spring out of my step.  In Joan Didion’s memoir “A Year of Magical Thinking” she writes that when a child loses a parent many times they re-evaluate their life.  This was definitely the case with me.  Anytime I did a high intensity workout I kept thinking, “Why am I doing this? What is the point?” Honestly.  Why am I getting up before the sun…in June and July…to run around in circles and get out of breath?  At one point one reason I did this was for the beauty of eating anything I want, and it was awesome.  But, after turning 40 I’ve noticed that no amount of exercise is going to allow me to eat 3/4 of a pizza at Pizzeria Lola’s along with 2 beers, some side dishes, and ice cream without some consequences in the region of my butt.  Which brings me back to…really, what is the point of a track workout?

Then my hamstring started to hurt.  It doesn’t hurt all the time, just when I would put speed in or sprint up a hill.  Although this is my deficit and area that I need the most help, I cut out track and hill workouts because they hurt. And they are hard.  And I generally hate them.  I added in more miles with friends and some slow long runs through the woods, because those fill my soul and felt good.  20 mile run?  No problem.  Want to meet the next day for 7 miles? See you then.  Track workout…no thank you.

According to my training schedule, which I’ve generally ignored all summer, this is my last hard week of training before the taper. Yet, I don’t feel like I’ve worked on my deficits enough (speed, strength) to even deserve a taper. And so I must make a decision, and soon. Will I race TCM or treat it like a training run for NYC? Will I race either? Perhaps this is the year I just enjoy the sights of both marathons and forget about the time. Will I be satisfied if I don’t push myself?  Maybe running two marathons in less than a month will already push me straight over the edge….

#1 started 8th grade this fall. Its his last year in middle school and soon we will need to make a decision about high school. He attends a small, charter school. It has been a fabulous experience for him thus far and he has the option to stay at the school through high school. Twin Cities Academy High School was just ranked #42 in the country by Newsweek magazine, and the top high school in Minnesota. He has gained confidence, will attempt to write again (something he wouldn’t do in 4th and 5th grade), and has improved his reading skills. The school pushes him in what is hard for him. Why do I falter?

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Because the school is small. Because I don’t know what he will do for advanced math at a small high school (next year he would be taking their most advanced class). Because there is no orchestra and he plays cello. Because there is no robotics club and his favorite thing to do at the state fair is to watch high school robotics competitions. Because there is no cross-country ski team, the sport he has poured himself into year round for the last couple of years. Because, perhaps he needs to spend high school exploring his gifts and his interests instead of grinding away at writing assignments, vocabulary workbooks and reading comprehension exercises.  Because I feel like I made a huge mistake when I moved him to a different school in 1st grade, which I thought would bring out his strengths….but a consequence was a total failure to teach him in his areas of weakness.  

I don’t want to make a bad school choice decision for #1 again.

At his small school there are no cracks for #1 to fall through. There is no place for him to hide. The school is structured to help students achieve in areas that are hard for them and they excel at this. But, what do I do with the kid that needs help, may not (who am I kidding….almost definitely will not) find help at a HUGE public high school, but he has the chance to shine in the areas he is most talented in? His English class in the public high school may be as big as his entire graduating class at his current school? A quiet, well-behaved child with a learning disability doesn’t stand a chance unless they receive A LOT of outside support.

If you need to choose, is it the most important to work on your gifts or your deficits in high school?

Ugh.

I have no idea.

We have until February/March to make our decision. Maybe I’ll string together some friends so I can go on some very, VERY long runs between now and then to process…..work with my gifts or mileage and verbal processing….and leave those hill, track workouts and tempo runs for another year.

Why Early Intervention Matters

The article says it all.  This is why we must advocate for early screening and early intervention.

“One lesson is that intensive orthographic and phonological tutoring can really help. Another is that dyslexic children should be encouraged to keep reading, even though it is a struggle. And a third is that dyslexics’ difficulties with reading aren’t as hard-wired as we once feared. Experience makes a big difference, for ill and for good.”

Reading Experience May Change the Experience of Dyslexic Students

Trust

Last summer my running partner convinced me to do track workouts.  I’m pretty new to running and had no idea what a track workout was.  Basically what you do is sprint twice around the track (1/2 mile) as fast as you can, jog around the track once….repeat….at least 4 times, building up more repeats as the training season goes on.

It’s grueling.

It makes me feel like I’m going to barf.

It makes me slightly dizzy and forced to run with tunnel vision toward the finish line.

It wipes me out for much of the day, and sometimes the next day too.

And yet, I did it, and went back throughout the summer.  I trusted my running partner.  I was training for my first marathon where speed, not just finishing, was a goal.  I knew she was pushing me in the right direction and had my best interest in mind.  She is a much more experienced runner than me. I listened to her and pushed myself to be uncomfortable and work very hard.  I trusted that this new training method would deliver results.  Trust is the cornerstone of any great relationship.

 

When you ask someone for help, you are essentially saying that you trust the person enough to actually help and you believe they know what to do.

This week I will go to #3s post-assessment meeting.  I have been asking for help all year.  After initially being denied an assessment, #3 received more interventions in the classroom and with Minnesota Reading Corp.  After 6 weeks we had another meeting, and not only had he not made progress, he went backwards in his reading achievement.  Although he was still not as far behind as they initially told me he had to be according to the Mondo Achievement test, the school agreed to assess him for special education services because the interventions were not helping him move towards grade level.

The assessment guarantees nothing.  If I sound jaded, I am.

For the past week I have noticed my anxiety on the subject climbing and I have wondered why.  It is possible that he will qualify for special education and the IEP they propose is something that would help him reach grade level in reading and writing.  I have seen IEPs for children from this same school and I think the goals and steps are excellent.

So why am I so nervous?  I really have no reason to be.

It’s because my trust is gone.

This is not about the teachers at this school.  I trust the teachers.  I trust the special education teacher at this school…that is why I want her to be #3’s case manager.

I don’t trust the system.  I have asked for help so many times only to be ignored or turned down I no longer believe they have my children’s best interest in mind.  I don’t trust the policies surrounding qualifying children with learning disabilities.  My experience was so horrible when #2 had an IEP and the services he received only made the situation worse, I know that having a piece of paper saying my child gets help doesn’t mean the help with be appropriate or, in fact, helpful. If I don’t agree with the assessment results, I’m quite certain that no one in administration is going to listen to my concerns.

When I asked the school to test my child for special education I was putting myself in an uncomfortable and vulnerable situation.  I was putting #3 in an uncomfortable and vulnerable position too and letting him know that I think something is wrong.  I was openly admitting he is failing.  I was asking for help, and not just a little help, but a lot of help, to simply get my child to read at grade level….nothing that incredible and something that is quite easy for many kids.  During this process I was reminded of all the hurt and anguish I went through seeking help for #1 and #2 in the same school district, and never finding that help.

It’s hard to ask for help.  It’s hard to ask people to listen to your concerns.  And it’s really hard to ask for help when you don’t trust that things will get better.

I want to trust the system again.  I want to trust that they understand the importance of early detection and early intervention for children with learning disabilities….BEFORE they have failed so enormously that catching up seems nearly impossible and their self-esteem is crushed.  I want to trust that special education is set up to help students and not protect the school district from law-suits.  I don’t want to be jaded anymore.

I want to be presented with a plan, that is researched based, telling me the steps they will take to teach #3 how to read at grade level.  I want to come out of an IEP meeting with a smile on my face and breath a sigh of relief knowing I can trust the new initiative, the new training method, to help my child who is not reaching his own goal of learning how to read and who is beginning to show signs of frustration and learned helplessness.  I want to trust that they will push him in the right direction.  I want to trust that his best interest, not dollar signs, case loads, or misguided policies determined the education he will receive.   I want them to push him to work hard and try what is difficult even when he’s uncomfortable, which will lead him to achieving success.

 

After my first track workout, when I was standing on the track, hands on my knees, gasping for breath I looked at my running partner and said, “Why did you make me do this?  That was awful!!!! It’s quite possible I almost died.”

She replied, “Physically it makes you stronger and gives your cardio a wake up.  Psychologically you are learning that even when you don’t think you can keep going, if you just trust your body, your legs continue to carry you along.  You are learning to trust yourself.  You are learning to listen to your body and know how hard to push.”

“OK, fine.  That was awful, but I’ll do it again if it will help me.  I’m going to trust you on this.  Same thing next week?”

With a sly smile, my running partner grabbed her water bottle and said, “No, next week I introduce you to hill drills, and that is an entirely different out of body experience.”

 

A Clarification

Many interpretations have been made about my last post.  What I intended to say is that diversity training is good.  It should happen.  It brings important, and hard conversations into our lives.  The school district should do this.  Children and adults are negatively effected by racism and we all need to work together to put an end to this and take a hard, honest look at our own actions, stereotypes and interpretations.

I do not believe diversity training takes away from the needs of my children.  

I do not believe diversity training diminishes the needs of my children.

 

The achievement gap is real.  It’s horrifying.  Something needs to be done.  When I advocate for more awareness of dyslexia I am not only advocating for my children, I am advocating for up to 20% of the children.  Rich.  Poor.  Black.  White.  How could more awareness for dyslexia help children without a parent who is able to be an advocate?  How can awareness of dyslexia and different teacher methods help the achievement gap?  Last year I wrote about this in “Complicating Factors.”

Another point I was trying to make: How can we value diversity and narrow the curriculum at the same time?

My advocacy is not meant to take away from other people’s struggles.  I am NOT saying we should train teachers in how to teach children with dyslexia INSTEAD of racial awareness.  But maybe teachers could be provided with current, scientific information about dyslexia also…..not in replacement of the diversity training currently going on.

I do not know what it is like to raise a black child.  I am open to learning about and listening to this experience.  I want to help make the world a better place so these children feel valued and loved and able to reach their potential.

I do not know what it is like to raise a child that is from a family that doesn’t speak English.  I am open to learning about and listening to this experience.  I want to help make the world a better place so these children feel valued and loved and able to reach their potential.

I also do not know what it is like to raise a child with autism, Down’s Syndrome, severe mental health issues, food allergies, dwarfism, a prodigy, a physical disability, a chronic disease, a terminal illness…… I am open to learning and listening to these experiences.  I want to help make the world a better place so these children feel valued and loved and able to reach their potential.

But, I do know what it is like to raise a child with dyslexia.  I can tell my personal story, my questions, my musings, and my struggles to get them a public education that does not leave them dejected, ashamed and left out.

We are all in the same boat.  And when we see a hole, we all need to work together to fix it.  We are only as strong as the least among us.  When equity happens, we are all raised up.

And this is one reason why diversity training and racial awareness is important for everyone.  

 

 

Diversity is not skin deep

#3’s teacher has been gone the last couple of days….at diversity training provided by the school district.  The training is expensive, and time consuming.  In fact, the school district signed a contract for $1.2 million dollars for this training.  It’s clearly very important to the superintendent.  And, I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

 

Except…….

 

How many years have I been telling administrators in the district that my children, because their brains are wired differently than most people’s, need a different reading curriculum and instruction methods?  They are diverse.  

Diversity is defined as “a range of different things.”  My children learn differently.  Learning is diverse.  

However, it seems that the administrators are only interested in diversity when it means skin color or country of origin.  A Pioneer Press article states, “The policy calls on the district to seek out input from diverse students and families on teaching practices and curricula.”  But these same administrators seem tone deaf when I talk about the diverse learning needs of my children.  Is it because you can’t see their diversity?  Does the school district only consider a child’s race to be where diversity lies? I don’t know.

I haven’t gotten anywhere with my pleas for help for children with dyslexia.  Unless your “diversity” is obvious, it seems the children are placed in a classroom, mandated to sit quietly and complete tasks at the pace dictated by the district administration.  Decisions are made based on numbers on a standardized test without taking into account the individual needs and potential of a child.  It seems even the potential of a child has been standardized by the district with the use of testing.  Individual potential is no longer part of the conversation, as long as the individual child’s achievement falls within the district norms.

When #1 started kindergarten at our current elementary school they had wonderful programs that celebrated multiple intelligences.  They had a program called “Theaters of Learning.” Children could choose classes about Fairy Tales, environmental science, card games, etc.  It was diverse and many learning styles were valued and appreciated.  The teachers do the best they can to hang onto their value for diverse learning styles and interests, but it seems to get harder for them every year.  Many of the programs that made the school inclusive of all learners and celebrated diversity have gone away in the wake of mandates from the district office that claims to value diversity.

They do value diversity….and this is good….but it seems to be a very narrow definition of diversity.  They do not seem to value the diversity of learning styles.  The achievement gap is real and serious.  I do not want to take away from the efforts to help this serious situation and the intense needs of so many children.  Going to training to learn about your own racial stereotypes and understanding the needs of other cultural groups is wonderful and should happen.  Institutional racism is real and greatly effects the lives of people.  I firmly believe this.

However, helping one group of children should not come at the expense of helping others.

It’s frustrating to show principals written documentation from educational psychologists stating the intense learning needs of my children and explain to them what an Orton-Gillingham based system is only to hear “We don’t have the resources for that.”  I have been asking people that work in the district office “why isn’t there a reading specialist at my child’s school?” only to be told “We don’t have the resources for that.”  I ask for reading interventions designed for a child with dyslexia and I’m told “We don’t have the resources for that. ”  (Lucky for #3, his fabulous classroom teacher took on teaching him with an Orton-Gillingham system on her own because she recognized his diverse needs.)  At our previous elementary school, when #1 and #2 were struggling, parents told me, “This is not the right school for YOUR kids.”  I was furious.  You would never say that to a child because of their skin color, but because my children learn differently some people felt it was OK to exclude them from a public school.

When I am told about lacking resources for children with dyslexia, what I hear is: “We are using our resources to help with diversity in our district…..but we don’t mean your kind of diversity.”

As I watch the curriculum continue to narrow in our school district I wonder where the place is for a child who needs a different reading and writing curriculum, a child who is particularly gifted in the area of recess, and spends a rainy Sunday happily making a sculpture out of a box, duct tape, string, plastic wrap, tinfoil, water color paintings, old cabinet pulls, and of course gobs of glue.

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 Imagine the possibilities if the school district would train all the teachers to recognize warning signs of dyslexia and how they can help.  Children would no longer get lost in the cracks.  Children would be able to realize their potential before.

Diversity is not skin deep.

Sometimes diversity is in how we learn and process information. 

It’s time for my school district to recognize that diversity is, in fact, diverse.

Not as planned

This year we went to Moab, UT for spring break.  Reservations were made at a great resort and two beautiful campgrounds.  Hikes were plotted out.  Ingredients for s’mores were purchased.  Zip off, quick dry pants were packed for those cool morning but glorious and sunny afternoons.  I even bought incredibly over-priced camp chairs at REI so we could sit next to the campfire and gaze at the awesome stars at Arches National Park.  Lists were made.  Meticulous packing was done.  We’ve been on quite a few epic minivan adventures by this point I was even able to pack all our equipment, clothing and food….AND we could still see out the back window.  After a long and particularly brutal Minnesota winter we were ready to soak in
75 and sunny in the dessert Southwest.

We made it to Golden, Colorado.  Look Mom, no jackets!  Everyone was happy.  We felt warm while outside for the first time since the middle of October.

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Look, Mom, No Jackets!!!!

And then the puking started.  Just #3 at first.  I convinced myself it was altitude sickness.  We ventured on.

As we headed over the mountains and down into the Moab region I checked the updated forecast.  Wind warning? High of 42? Low of 20? I told myself that forecasts change all the time and we weren’t camping for a couple more days.

We headed to our posh resort nestled in the red rocks of the Colorado River.

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We had a beautiful day hiking in the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park.  I even took off my ski hat! And I rolled up my pants!

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A balmy 50 degrees!

And then, as we were packing up to leave the resort and head into Arches for camping, #2 puked.

Perhaps this is not altitude sickness.

But, I had done all that planning.  I had meticulously packed.  I had done everything right!  This cannot be happening.  I thought we were going to be thwarted by the weather, not puke.  18 hours from home, freezing temps, puking kids and what do I do?
Go check in at the campground.
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At least one kid was feeling OK and excited to take on the adventure of camping.
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We are in Arches National Park!
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The others can hike while I comfort #2.

It was a nice thought.

The weather was HORRIBLE and we weren’t allowed to set up our tents until the wind went down, so  we head to the visitor center.  Might as well get junior ranger badges and watch the movie.  #2 was moaning and groaning throughout the movie so I sent him outside and asked #1 to go with him.  #1 took one step out onto the main patio of Arches National Park, during the very busy spring break season….and projectile vomited.  Everywhere.  It was actually impressive.
As we were driving up the winding road I hear a weak voice “stop.” Its #1.  He’s puking.  Again.  In the minivan.  That we still need to drive 18 hours home.
I scrubbed with all my might using the only cleaning products I had available….Purell hand sanitizer and paper towels….while #1 continued to empty his stomach, sitting on the back bumper.
Did I mention the windstorm and freezing temps?  It was amazing that this is what I thought was going to put me over the edge.  The weather, at this point, was a side issue.  There was nothing I could have done to prepare for this.  It was time to just muscle through it.
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At least one child was still pumped to be camping.
With the help of #3 and #4 who sat inside the tents while we set them up (so they wouldn’t blow over the cliff), we got them set up. #1 and #2 were delicately placed in a comfortable sandy area with #1’s head hanging slightly out of the tent.  I made dinner and tried to enjoy the beauty of nature.  #3 and #4 were actually delighted that they were the only two left standing.  So much attention!
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And then, in the middle of the night, while freezing in our tent, I hear that horrible sound.  The sound of a child throwing up, right next to you.  And then I realize something worse….I feel it.
Yup, #4.  Everywhere.  In the tent.  I pick her up, place my hand in front of her mouth to stop the next waves and somehow get the screen door open.  Dad runs to the car to get, you guessed it, Purell and paper towels.  Its still all we’ve got.
I’m in uncharted territory here.
And then it snowed.  Well, at least I know how to deal with snow, sleet and freezing temps.  I’ve had 6 months of this weather non-stop.
 IMG_0389In the morning we packed up as fast as we could and headed to town.  The children learned the valuable skill of how a laundromat works and the benefits of finding one next to a cafe.  And then we booked a Hummer tour on the petrified sand dunes.  “Might as well do something where puking is acceptable” was my reasoning.
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The puking was behind us, but not recovery time or freezing temps.  We camped one more night, which happened to be WAY colder than the first night of camping and then found a hotel before heading back to Denver.As I’ve been psychologically recovering from our non-vacation I have been thinking that this vacation is sometimes how I feel about raising children with learning disabilities.  I quit my career to stay at home with them.  I read parenting books.  I read to them every single day.  I kept them away from a lot of screen time.  We went to the children’s museum.  We went to ECFE.  I did everything I thought I was supposed to be doing.

And guess what.  They failed 1st grade.  Impressively and with gusto.  This is not what I had planned.

It’s heart wrenching to try and figure out what you could have done differently when you have a child that fails in school.  Did I read to them too much?  Too little?  Did I put them in the wrong school?  Should we have moved to the suburbs? Should I have kept working and put them in day care? Should I have drilled them in their letters when they were 2?  Should I have played with them more?

But, as with camping with puking children…..I just didn’t see it coming.  And, there is no way to know how to react in the situation until you are actually in it.  Eventhough it’s my third time through 1st grade with a child who hasn’t learned to read I am still caught off guard when I look around his classroom and see all the wonderful growth that his peers have made, and I realize my child has made none.

So, I muscle through.  And to think I spent years thinking that the hesitant personalities of #1 and #2 and the boisterous personality of #3 would be my biggest issues.  They are side issues so much of the time, but certainly make the situation more difficult….just as the weather made everything more difficult on our spring break “experience.”  But I can say with confidence, as a young parent, I never saw reading problems coming.

I continue to read out loud books my children enjoy.  I encourage hard work, yet look for places they can excel with ease.  I realize its OK to grieve the loss I feel when they can’t read and how hard the road ahead with be, but smile about all the things they are great at.

In other words, I book the Hummer tour and try to enjoy the place we are at.  I realize I didn’t do anything to bring the stomach flu with us to Utah, but I can buy new camping mats and Lysol.

Then, as we were stuck in a traffic jam in the middle of Iowa farm country because of an overturned semi….from the backseat of the minivan comes “Mommy, I just pooped!  EVERYWHERE!!!!!”  It was time to just break into uncontrollable giggles and call a professional to help with cleanup in the morning.

True story.

Our Journey with Dyslexia

Tomorrow I am venturing to a legislative hearing for HF 2529 with #1, #2 and #3.  This is a bill which would give families with a dyslexic child a $2,000 reimbursement for tutoring costs or assessment costs.  The bill also gives teachers a $1,000 tax credit for training in a research based method to help teach dyslexic students.  This is a wonderful first step to help families and teachers enable their dyslexic children to reach their potential and alleviate some of the stress involved with dyslexia.  Below is my story I am sharing with members of the committee.  If you have a story, I encourage you to send it to your legislator, no matter what state you are in.  The theme during Lent at our church is “Hold on Tight to Love and Justice.”  One good way for my family to do this is to put ourselves out there and be witnesses for our struggle and the struggle of other children with dyslexia.  We are open with what is hard in hope it can make a difference for the future and that people who are going through a similar challenge can feel less isolated.

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            Our story with dyslexia starts when my middle son was in kindergarten.  He is a gifted child, but after preschool, many hours of being read to, and an excellent kindergarten teacher, he could not name most letters in the alphabet, let alone their sounds.  His anxiety was through the roof, in kindergarten.  It was a daily struggle to get him to school.

            In first grade things only got worse.  He qualified for the gifted and talented school in our district and we sent him there because his older brother was at the school and we had built a strong community of friends there.  First grade was a disaster.  I was constantly told that one day he would suddenly start reading, I just needed to keep reading to him at home.  I saw a child that was turning into a puddle, getting further and further behind his peers in every subject by the day.  I continually asked for help, yet no help came.

            Meanwhile my oldest child was at the same school in third grade.  He could barely read.  Again, I was told that some day he would magically start to read, though he was not getting any help towards this goal.  As the shift from “learning to read” to “reading to learn” happened during the second half of the year, the bottom fell out.  I brought my concerns to his teacher over and over again, but she felt there was no reason to worry or do anything different.  His writing notebooks were blank, he couldn’t read a book to complete a non-fiction report, yet I was told the school would not and could not help.

            The next school year was no different.  I had two children who could barely read, and who avoided writing because they had no idea how to do it.  They were light years behind their peers and they knew it.  Both of them hated going to school.  Again and again I asked for help at the school.  None came.

            Finally, when they were in 3rd and 5th grade we had scraped together enough money to have them tested.  We are not a family with a lot of extra money, and having our children privately tested is a sacrifice.  My middle son was diagnosed with profound dyslexia.  My oldest son was diagnosed with a mild form of dyslexia.  I felt like I had the golden ticket!  A diagnosis! Our money had been well spent.  The outside assessment had a couple pages of educational suggestions to help my children learn to read, which in turn would help relieve their deepening problems with anxiety and depression.

            The school, however, was not equipped to help my children.  The special education teacher had not been trained in educating children with dyslexia.  She did not have access to a reading curriculum that is research based for teaching my children how to read.  My older son started going to the reading specialist at the school.  But he was in a large group, for a very short period of time, and this teacher was not trained in helping children with dyslexia.  The special education and the reading specialist intervention were not effective and another dead-end.

            I ended up pulling my middle child out of school in the middle of his 3rd grade year when his mental health was reaching a very serious stage.  School was no longer an option for him.  I shut down my life and homeschooled him for 3rd and 4th grade.  I am a former 1st grade teacher and have also worked in special education so I felt equipped to do this.  Additionally, I went to training sessions at Groves Academy and bought the same curriculum Groves uses to teach reading.  I am proud to say that I was able to teach my middle child how to read and write and he is now at a small charter school.  Because he is doing so well he was recently removed from special education.  Success can happen with the correct teaching methods.

            My oldest child is now at a different charter school and in 7th grade.  After a disastrous 5th grade year, where his anxiety had become a very big problem, I pulled him out of his public school.  I had begged for help for him for 5 years at the school and witnessed him turn from a confident child with a deep love of learning to a child filled with anxiety and a dread of school.  When I asked continually for help in teaching him to read the principal finally told me that they could not help and I would need to hire a tutor 4-5 times a week and also find a good counselor to help him with his anxiety.  This is when I decided to find a different school.  We can’t afford that much tutoring (and for 3 children!).  He still struggles with reading and writing because he was never taught with correct methods in elementary school.  His standardized test scores are very low in reading and this will be a lifelong struggle for him.  However, he is starting to get his confidence back at his new school because they have made reading and writing a much more concrete skills for him to work on.

            I now have a 1st grader at a public school in St. Paul.  This fall we again got the money together to have his assessed privately when the school was failing to act.  He was also diagnosed with dyslexia.  Thus far, however, the school has refused to test him to see if he qualifies for special education because he hasn’t failed enough yet.  There are no reading specialists at his school.  So, his classroom teacher was handed a curriculum that she has never seen before and has no training in and told to do interventions.  For a student like my son, he needs 40 minutes of 1:1 teaching with a multi-sensory curriculum (Orton-Gillingham based) with a trained teacher, something that is impossible for any classroom teacher to accomplish.  Again, it seems tutoring is the only option for teaching one of my children how to read.  This is not a financial option for my family; so again, I am the tutor for my child, squeezing in time wherever I can find it.

            Life at home should not be about spending all your time doing the things that are hardest for you.  I try to also provide them time to pursue music, play sports, be outside, attend church, help around the house, and play.  School should be where a child learns to read and write, with support from home, but a parent should not do the main teaching or be forced to find a tutor who will.  We pay our taxes and support public schools as much as we can, but the schools fail to educate my 3 boys in the basics of reading and writing because their brains function differently than most people.  They are dyslexic.  They need a different reading curriculum.  With correct methods they can become successful readers.  My middle son is proof of that.  Children with dyslexia should not be continually told that public school is not for them and if they want to read they need to look to tutors, homeschool or expensive private schools.  Growing up with dyslexia is hard enough; being left out of an education only makes it harder.