“Yea, I’m dyslexic so it’s hard for me to read some things.”
I overheard my 9-year-old daughter talking on a video chat with her friend. Casually throwing out the fact that she’s dyslexic. Moments later her friend mentioned her own anxiety. I smiled at how confident these girls were in owning who they are without shame or embarrassment.
Each of my kids has strengths and weaknesses… all of us do. This time at home together is challenging because we were thrust into it without much of a warning. But a positive side is it’s giving me a chance to learn more about each of them, their learning styles, and how they learn best.
We learned Jayda was dyslexic a few years ago. I took some time to learn about what this meant and how I could help her with reading in a way that works for her. I used to push reading at all costs. But now, seeing how she has a different way of processing, I’m not worrying about how fast she’s progressing in that subject. Instead, we’re focusing on her strengths.
Why focus on your weaknesses when you have so many strengths? She’s extremely good at visual interpretations, and design. She’s very creative and has a great eye for photography and videography. She’s a good gymnast, and her comprehension skills are also impressive. So I do give her a regular workload with math and listening to stories, but I’m not pushing so hard on the phonetics right now.
School is officially out for the year in our district. But I haven’t informed my kids. Yea, we decided we’re just going to keep learning from home all summer. Mainly for the sake of keeping a routine going, and to help the kids continue to learn at their own pace.
Thankfully one of her dyslexia teachers is offering tutoring this summer via Zoom, so she can keep working with her and we can focus on some of her other interests. Allowing her to do that has boosted her confidence.
And I thought my son would do better in a classroom with a teacher instructing him. And while he does behave better outside of the home, he needs a little more one-on-one attention to grasp the lesson happening in the classroom. I’ve basically restarted teaching him first grade math, and we’re filling in the gaps where he didn’t feel confident. Same with reading.
But more than reading, writing and rhythmic I’m more concerned with building up their mindset during this period of learning at home. For both of my big kids. Understood.org has been a great resource for me for a long time.
Whenever someone tells me they think their child has a learning difference and asks for resources the first link I send them is Understood.org. From learning how to navigate 504 meetings, to explaining dyslexia to my daughter, the site has helped me answer a lot of questions.
Understood.org is shaping the world for difference.™ 1 in 5 people in the US have learning and thinking differences such as dyslexia and ADHD. Finding helpful resources and support can be hard to find. Understood is on a mission to change that by connecting people with these challenges to resources, expertise, and communities to boost confidence.
Now with so many of us learning from home, we’re using their helpful resources for that too. Some of my favorites are their growth mindset activities. When encouraging prompts that inspire them to think of ways to rephrase sayings like “I can’t” with something like “I’ll try it a different way.”
It can feel isolating when you have a learning difference, or if you have a child who does. But with the right tools and support your child will have a greater ability to truly thrive.
I can’t stress enough how important I think it is to let go of all of the preconceived ideas we had for raising these children into who we wanted them to be, and help them become who they’re meant to be. And we do that first by getting to understand who they truly are.
One fun way we do this at home is by having a confidence battle. In our house my kids each take turns saying something nice about themselves as quickly as they can. They try not to repeat the compliment or take too long to answer.
If your child is still getting to know some of their talents, a fun way to discover some is by making a strengths chain. Stringing together their strengths. Understood.org has a free template for a strength chain here with a list of strengths to get you started.
I can’t help but feel like when it really comes down to the important lessons to learn, personal growth is just as important (or more so) than multiplication facts.
If you have a child with a learning difference, or if you suspect your child has one, know you aren’t alone, and as frustrating as it can be at times, remember it’s a part of who they are and what makes them so special. When I get frustrated I remind myself to take a step back and try to look at it through their lens and see if we can talk through where they’re stuck and see where we aren’t connecting. Or even try to approach the subject from a different angle. I can’t tell you how many times my son hasn’t understood a math problem but when I rephrased it to include snakes, it’s clicked for him.
If you’ve found yourself wondering why your child struggles with counting, if they’re “behind” on learning to read, or seem to have a hard time struggling to focus. Dive into a world of warm hugs of solidarity and understanding through articles on Understood.org. I promise it’ll help.
It’s not easy trying to balance a business, a home, two kids in elementary school and a very busy toddler. And I’m sure many of you are juggling the same. But I’m trying to make the most of it. Learn a little more about these young people of mine. And I’m thankful for resources to help us through.