When you’re teaching a young child to read and you homeschool, you’ll likely hear this piece of advice if your child is slow to learn how to read—“Don’t worry. My child didn’t learn to read until 9 (or 10 or 11), and now he’s a voracious reader.”
I can’t tell you the number of well-meaning moms who told me this.
But, here’s the simple truth—if you’re child is struggling to read or can’t read despite regular reading lessons, there may be something wrong. I wish a mother who was well-intentioned would have told me this.
For Some of Us, Reading Is Easy
Reading has always been very easy for me. I learned to read in first grade, like my other peers, and our class was always separated into three levels—advanced, average, and struggling readers. Though our groups had cute names, I knew which groups were which based on the kids in them. I was always in the advanced group. Reading is something I love and part of why I became an English major in college.
Bookworm learned to read in preschool. He never struggled; in fact, he seemed to pick it up through osmosis.
For the Rest of Us, Reading Is Difficult
So, when PB & J Girl struggled to read, I was at a loss. She’s such a determined, hard worker, that she would sit at the table, crying through her lessons, but would not stop, even when I told her she should take a break. We spent a solid 2.5 years teaching her to read. She finally learned, but she was a slow reader, and it exhausted her.
When she was nine, I started to fear something was wrong. She still wrote letters and numbers backward, her writing was often hard to read, and she couldn’t read more than a page in her textbook without fatiguing. When I took her to our local school, where she had previously had speech therapy, I was systematically dismissed. In a meeting, a 4th grade teacher showed me samples of work from her lowest level students and said PB & J Girl was about at that level. This was supposed to comfort me somehow.
After years of being told she would someday blossom and be a great reader, and then getting systematically dismissed by our school, I signed her up for an online school and requested testing. She was given a thorough, 3-hour test which measured her IQ as well as a variety of other items like reading and writing. And finally, I was told she was dyslexic. (The school doesn’t call it that. Instead, they call it a Specific Learning Disability: Basic Reading Skills, Written Expression and Reading Fluency–but it means dyslexic.)
We also discovered that my husband is likely dyslexic, and so is Cuddle Bug.
I didn’t really know anything about dyslexia, and I’m still learning, but I did know that my children were struggling. I knew that even though they might not have a love of reading like I do, I want them to be competent readers.
I did my research, and we settled on the Barton Reading and Spelling Program to help remediate the dyslexia.
If you have a child who is struggling to learn to read or who already knows how to read but struggles with reading speed and spelling, please, take the time to get that child tested. The worst that can happen is that you’re wrong. The best case is that you find an issue so you can begin to help your child.
If you or your child has dyslexia, I’d love to hear your experiences. This is all so new to me!
I’m participating in Blogging through the Alphabet. You can find more blogging through the alphabet posts Schoolin’ Swag.
My Blogging Through the Alphabet Special Learners edition posts:
C – Change