The Finish Line, Part II

I finally had a reason to buy that phonics program that I just knew would work for her.  How could it not?  We started those lessons, day after long day.  But she still wasn’t learning how to read.  I turned back to my research and tried another program.  That one didn’t work either.  Time was passing, and the pressure (mostly self-induced) was mounting.  Here she was, at the cusp of nine years old, and not reading.  It was killing me.

Along the way, I forced myself to acknowledge the possibility that she had a learning disability.  I didn’t want to think about it, but I began reading everything I could  get my hands on about how the brain works, how learning happens, and different learning disabilities.  I came to the conclusion that it was likely she had dyslexia.  I decided not to get her tested; I didn’t think it was worth the cost and the effort, just to be told what I already knew.  And really, I didn’t want her painted with a label.  But at that point, I was determined to help her overcome it — actually work through it, and not just figure out the accommodations for her to “get through” life.  Thus, my research continued to find a reading program specifically for people who had dyslexia.  I finally found what I thought may work, took a deep breath, and began the marathon.

It took a long time – five years to get through the program.  It was hard to get through that program — a big struggle and lots of tears from child and mom.  I didn’t like doing the lessons, and I knew she liked it even less.  Yet we persevered.  At times, the only thought that pushed me onward was the determination that she was going to live a full life, loving reading, and not needing accommodations.  From everything I had learned about the brain and the process of learning, I knew that was an attainable goal.  I guess there are times when my stubbornness serves me well.

I have my children take standardized tests every spring.  (I highly recommend this practice, by the way, even if not required.  It is a very helpful tool to pinpoint areas where your children may need extra help.)  At the end of her eighth grade year, she scored “Post High School” in every single area that pertained to reading and reading comprehension.  I cried from happiness when I saw her results.

To the homeschooling parents whose children may be struggling with learning, please don’t give up.  Don’t fall into the trap that your child can just get through life with accommodations.  Learning disabilities can truly be overcome, and not merely accommodated.  The finish line is certainly not an easy goal, but is also just as certainly an attainable one.

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