I don’t know why the end-of-year conferences with my kids’ educational therapist makes me so nervous. It is a strange thing really. Parenting a child with dyslexia can feel like a huge responsibility. My kids’ improvement in reading, writing and spelling, or lack thereof, really isn’t related to how well I parent them. But somehow it still feels like it.
Edited to add: I wrote this post a few years ago. It was meant to show some of the ups and downs of homeschooling and parenting kids with dyslexia.
If you’re new here, I am the mom of 8 kids ages 26 to 7, seven of whom are either mildly, moderately or profoundly dyslexic. You can read more of our family’s dyslexia story here. Our two profoundly dyslexic kids attend nearly 3 hours of educational therapy each week through the NILD program. I am so grateful for this opportunity, but it is hard.
At the end of every school year, the kids are given the Woodcock-Johnson standard test of achievement. The purpose of these tests is to give us an honest assessment of how our kids academic achievement compared to their peers with or without learning issues.
This means that despite that fact that my profoundly dyslexic son can keep up with most of his studies with accommodations such as untimed tests, audio lessons, use of text to speech and speech to text apps and spell checkers, and that he has profound thoughts and insights into his studies – his testing shows that he is far from grade level.
The Reality of Dyslexia
Looking at the test results is a black and white reality check that momentarily causes me to stop looking at my whole child – an individual with strengths and talents that are not measured by this kind of test.
The tests are trying to tell me something that I don’t want to hear. Something that I don’t believe. The test results would be alarming if I did not know dyslexia and I did not know my son.
Those test scores seem to be saying, ‘Work harder!’ Try more!’ ‘Spend more money!’ ‘Do more lessons!’ ‘Do something!’ ‘DO SOMETHING!’
But I have been at this dyslexia thing for a long time now. I know that there is more to this picture than a percentile or ranking and that the workings of my son’s mind more than these test scores.
Some Truths About Dyslexia
I know dyslexia and I know my son. And if you have a child with dyslexia, you can too!
I know that dyslexia makes reading, writing, spelling, organizing and communication difficult.
I also know that dyslexic minds have amazing strengths – outside the classroom. Strengths like being highly creative and persistent, being able to see patterns, connections and similarities that others don’t see, excellent puzzle solving skills, strong reasoning skills, an ability to understand abstract ideas, and an amazing inclination to think outside the box.
These are strengths that are not measured by any standardized test.
I know that dyslexics are 4 times more likely to be entrepreneurs. It is their strengths of global, inventive outside the box thinking that makes them so successful.
I know that dyslexia is never outgrown. It will be my kids’ companion for all of their lives.
I also know that I can expect my kids’ standardized test scores to look a bit scary.
I can expect to be a walking spell checker for this house full of dyslexics.
I can expect frequent counseling sessions with my frustrated and exasperated dyslexic learners.
I can expect to deal with nervousness and doubt about my own ability as a mother and homeschooler to these kids.
I can expect these early school years where the goal of my instruction is proficient reading, writing and spelling to be full of long, hard days.
Have I mentioned that homeschooling and parenting kids with dyslexia is hard? As in most things, however, hard work pays off.
I can also expect the years of hard work and perseverance to result in kids who know the value of working hard and perseverance in their adult lives.
I can expect my kids to have a fully developed reliance on God to help them and guide them through the difficulties that they are sure to face, that we all will face, in life.
I can expect to have kids who appreciate the little things.
I can expect great things to come from these great minds.
I can expect kids who have extreme compassion for others who learn differently.
We have nearly completed another year of educational therapy. There are plenty of days when I just wish my kids were ‘normal’. I know this is selfish. I know that there is purpose in all of it. All of these experiences are working together for good in my kids lives are your kids lives as well.
If you are parenting or homeschooling a child (or 7) with dyslexia, look beyond the test results. Your child’s ‘relative proficiency index’ does not define him or her. They have been given gifts from God just like everyone else. Since these kids operate outside the box all. the. time, allow their dyslexia to compel you to earnestly look for their unique gifts.
How about you? Do your expectations about parenting a child with dyslexia match your reality?
This post is part of my series on homeschool planning. Read the entire series on homeschool goal setting, scheduling, and prioritizing here.