Reframing it

It is almost time to begin training for the Twin Cities Marathon in earnest.  I’ve been looking over Hal Higdon’s training guides and trying to decide which option would be best for this year.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking: What is my goal?  Fast? Just get it done? No injury? Boston Qualifying? Run as fast as I possibly can?  Stick with my much more experienced (and smarter) running partner? All the above?

There will be times when I’m mad that I’m training for the marathon.  I will want to go out late on a Friday, but I know I have to run 18 miles the next morning.  The two don’t mix.  I will be running when its way too hot and humid to rationally run, but the training guide says I must and there is no end in sight for the heat wave.  I won’t want to get up at 4:55 AM.

But, I will remind myself the entire time….I get to do this.  I’m the lucky one.  My body let’s me do this.  My husband supports me doing this.  My lifestyle allows me to run.  I have wonderful friends to run with who encourage and challenge me.  I get to.

This is the rationale I’ve been turning to lately with raising children with dyslexia and especially homeschooling.  It’s May.  The weather is finally nice.  I feel like I’m on those last couple weeks of marathon training when your body is so tired and you are crossing your fingers you don’t get injured.  I have worked so hard for so long and I’d like to be done for awhile.  Homeschooling #2 is not easy for me.  It’s nothing I thought I’d ever do.  And just when I think we are getting somewhere….that there is light at the end of the tunnel….that some spelling is really sinking in and that -ed ending is cementing…I get the following text from #2 (sent from my mom’s phone):

text

Are you kidding me?!?!?  GUST? PAST? YORE?  Can someone tell me how this sentence passed autocorrect? Where is Siri when you need her?

OK, I’ll give him yore….at least he got the vowel-consonant-e concept we’ve worked so hard on.  And the g/j sound is really hard for him. He needs to learn it to 100% accuracy and obviously we need to review.  BUT PAST?!?! No -ed suffix? It’s what we’ve worked on for 6 weeks!

Forget it.  Running a marathon, no make that an ultra-marathon, up a mountain, in elevation, on a really skinny path, is easier than this.  I’m a total failure of a teacher and parent.

I believe this is what they call “hitting the wall” in marathon terms.

It was time to dig deep.

There are two types of perspectives you can take when thinking about dyslexia; the deficit perspective or the strength perspective.  I was stuck in the deficit perspective.  The end of the school year is approaching and I’m stuck thinking of all the things that are incredibly hard for #2.  Spelling, reading speed, reading comprehension, writing, slow processing speed, math facts, sports, coordination, physical strength, attention, musical note reading, holding that darn violin bow straight…..I could go on and on.  It was (and is) bogging me down and it must be bogging #2 down too.

It’s time for me to re-frame. For myself I need to remember that I get to homeschool.  My life life work and personal background has lead me to this.  I am strong.  I am capable.  I get to be my child’s teacher.  I get to.

For #2 I need to help him reframe his dyslexia.  (#1 and #3 are also dyslexic, but they have different strengths.)  He gets to be dyslexic.  He gets to have dynamic reasoning.  He gets to be an intuitive thinker.  He gets to have the same strengths as Albert Einstein and Wolfgang Mozart (both dyslexic).  He gets to have vision about a complex process.  He gets to be good at connecting the dots and spotting patterns.  His diffuse attention is building creativity. His creativity is especially valuable in situations that are changing or ambiguous.  A high percentage of his type of dyslexics are in the following careers: entrepreneur, chief executive, finance, geology, physics, business consulting, economics, medicine (immunology, rheumatology, endocrinology, oncology), farmer, and construction. (Information from The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain)

He gets to be profoundly dyslexic.

I get to be his teacher and parent. I get to  help unlock his wonderful brain. I get to.

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Kindle

If your child is having difficulty with reading, and you can afford it, get a Kindle, or other e-reader.

reading kindle

Not only will your child become more engaged and motivated with their new gadget, but with the Kindle you can make the font bigger and spacing between lines wider. This change makes complicated text (usually with a smaller font) look more like a beginning chapter book.  By changing the size of the font, it is easier for the reader to track the words, aiding with reading fluency.  (There is a reason those easy readers have a large font and fewer words on the page.)

Looking up vocabulary words is also instantaneously accomplished with a couple clicks.  If you want to see something laborious, ask a profoundly dyslexic student to find a word in a dictionary!  A deep vocabulary is one of the keys to reading comprehension.  Because of the ease, barriers are lifted and the child is no longer guessing about unknown words.

And it doesn’t hurt to be able to buy a book instantly.

The sadness of a runner

“I am a runner.”  These are words I never thought I would utter.  Ever. Today despair struck at the biggest moment in the biggest event of my favorite sport.  At the finish line, after having run 26.2 miles, emotions completely take over a person.  The finish line is the place of jubilation, gratefulness, peace and overwhelming love of life. The Boston Marathon is seen as the reward to many runners after years of hard work and a fast qualifying time in a previous marathon.  This was not supposed to happen.  Running is a peaceful sport where people encourage and challenge each other to bring out their best efforts.

My heart breaks for everyone personally effected by the events in Boston today.  Runners put miles in together, we greet each other at 5:30 AM out on the trail, and runners stop to help others.  The image of athletes finishing the marathon and running to the hospital to give blood makes sense to me.  This is what people do.  People help each other.

Mr. Rogers

“I am a homeschooler.”  These are words I never thought I would utter.  Ever.  I came to running positively, but I came to homeschooling very reluctantly. School should be a place where children feel safe.  Like a marathon, it should be a place of jubilation, gratefulness, support, achievement and love.  For #2, it was anything but this.  His experience was filled with anxiety, misunderstanding, low expectations, learned helplessness and tears.  It was not a safe place for him, rather a daily assault that would drain him every time he walked through the doors.  Many parents with children who fall outside the norm understand my feelings of frustration and sadness.  There were not enough helpers at school for #2…and the school didn’t understand what helpers #2 needed.  I could not let him continue to sit in school and watch his self-esteem and confidence melt to zero.  This was not supposed to happen.

Sadly our public schools are not set up to handle children with profound dyslexia, especially when it is accompanied by an anxious and sensitive personality.  In his book The Dyslexic Advantage, Brock Eide describes 4 personalities of people with dyslexia.  One personality is highly sensitive accompanied with high levels of anxiety.  At a recent conference at Groves Academy a parent asked Eide how a parent can help a child with this personality cope and learn in school. He responded that unless you are able to send your child to a school like Groves, your answer is to homeschool, there is no other option right now. This is not OK, although this is my reality at the moment.  We need more helpers in the schools in the form of teachers trained to understand and teach children with learning disabilities.  Many times these children are also gifted.  We must form a world where there are more helpers for our children to turn to.  Let’s imagine and put forth a world where children who struggle feel safe and parents no longer need to fight to get their children the education they deserve.