Sunday, January 29, 2012

Oh the places you'll go ... or not

I woke up this morning wedged between two small boys. And as I reluctantly emerged from the fog of sleep, I found myself remembering fragments of the dream that my early risers had unknowingly interrupted.

It was about my Mr7 and without thinking I told him.

"I had a dream last night that you could read."

"Really read?" He asked, incredulous. Then he smiled. He knew that this was a happy dream.

"Yes" I said, remembering the boy in the dream effortlessly reading aloud from a Dr Seuss book.

For the parent of a child with a "reading disability", dyslexia in old speak, this dream was nothing short of miraculous, the equivalent of the wheelchair bound child suddenly hopping up and walking towards you.

Of course, learning to read is not really that difficult. While parents may find themselves worrying because their child's progress has not been as rapid as their classmates, the reality is that for most kids once they have cracked the basics they will go on to master the art of reading. My older children cracked the code at a fairly average pace, but there was never any doubt that they would make it. It was just a matter of time and patience.

For Mr7, learning to read is a Herculean task. As his classmates wade through chapter books he is still struggling with individual letter sounds. Yet he loves books as much as the next child, and possibly more than the one after that. And while this is the key to him mastering reading, it seems almost cruel.

I recently chatted with a mother of a 12-year-old with learning disabilities. She reflected that every day her son had to put in 100% in the classroom and then spend the evenings struggling through homework while she held his hand. And in spite of all this effort, he would still fail. Speaking as the mother of another child who qualifies as "gifted", the unfairness of this sometimes makes me want to punch the next person - possibly my former self - who complains about school being too slow or boring. While this response is possibly immature and definitely not one around which to formulate education policy, the reality is that those kids lucky enough to have above average intelligence can look forward to a life full of choices whereas those with learning disabilities or just a plain old low IQ have far fewer options.

Next September I will send my youngest off to kindergarten and I fear that his progress will be too rapid. All the signs are there. Reading is going to come to him easily and before long he will find himself lost in a sea of stories.

And I will find myself struggling, not wanting to slow him down but wanting him to wait just that little bit longer, giving his big brother time to catch up.


Melc_1911 said...

That would be really hard. My kids have all been above average. I won't be taking it for granted anymore. I wish your on all the best in his learning quest

Benison said...

This is such a beautiful loving piece. He's a lucky boy to have such a mum (or mom!). There are so many things we take for granted until we are given a special child. May he have many years of reading enjoyment ahead of him.x

Niki said...

Hi there! Just stumbled upon your blog clicking through from another one. I just wanted to say that I can completely relate to your post.

I have three children and one of them finds school FAR more difficult than the other two. Over the years we've struggled with self esteem issues, motivation, and general frustration. It's hard to work so hard and still struggle and then watch your siblings sail right through without much thought.

Having the support of mom, dad and a few wonderful teachers is what keeps them going. I wish you all the best.

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