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Posts Tagged ‘dyslexia’

“Mommy, what does D-O-O-R spell?”

We were riding in the car and my daughter was reading the letters off of a button. It’s not exactly the question a mom wants to hear from her 8-year-old. By “normal” standards it’s one of those words someone her age would instantly see and know. The question sent a prick of sadness through me, another reminder of her ongoing struggles.

“It says door, baby.”

A year ago I would have just told her to figure it out, offering little help, assuming she was just being lazy. Then I would have made her sound out five other traffic signs on our way down the road, just for good measure.

I was extremely insecure about my daughter’s reading struggles. Partly because I was homeschooling and I felt responsible for her being behind, and partly because she was not living up to who I thought she could be. Every time a parent told me about their child reading chapter books, or finishing another Harry Potter book I’d question why my daughter wasn’t there.

Every other subject was enjoyable for us. She grasped math concepts and could retell me stories from early American history without a problem. But she couldn’t read a Dr. Seuss book.

A little more than a year ago I went to a little gathering that changed my life. One of my blog partners, Responsibility.org hosts their influencers once a year in Washington, D.C. for a #TalkEarly summit to discuss ways to have open and honest conversations with our children. And how we can encourage that in our own communities. We also hear from doctors and experts in the parenting realm and just have a good uplifting time. Well, last year one of our guest speakers was Jessica Lahey, author of The Gift of Failure. A book about allowing our children to learn from their own mistakes. Resisting the urge to help them through everything because that will inhibit their ability to feel frustrated and reap the thrill of solving a problem on their own.

The entire time I kept thinking about my daughter, and her struggles with reading. I thought about the ways I’d been teaching her and listened to Jessica’s suggestions for allowing our kids to figure it out. And most of all, I heard her call to love our  kids for who they are, not who we wish they were. I had to let go of the desire of having a Harry Potter-reading 7-year-old, and accept that this just wasn’t her. Maybe she would struggle with school. Would I love her any less?

I came home from that summit and took a new approach to how I worked with her. Instead of forcing so much practice, repeating steps, and insisting she wasn’t trying hard enough, I sat back and watched how she would dissect a word. I took some of the pressure off and paid attention to how she worked. I began to realize that my pride could be getting in the way of finding out if there was another underlying issue. What could it hurt to talk to a professional and see? Maybe even rule it out.

I already shared how that went down. And the realization that my daughter is dyslexic was  still not what I expected, nor easy to swallow. Even last week at her 504 meeting, listening to her dyslexia profile evaluation results and hearing that she’s below average on reading fluency, spelling, phonological awareness, etc etc etc… It’s not news to me but it’s still difficult to hear. Still, it’s been harder for me to accept than her.

At her 8th birthday party in front of all her friends she asked if I’d read the cards to her. I later asked if that was hard for her but she told me it was no big deal.

The first week of school I asked if she felt insecure about anything and she said just getting on the wrong bus.

I write her a note every day and stick it in her lunchbox and sometimes she asks a friend to help her decipher a word.

She knows reading is, and may always be, a bit of a struggle for her, but she embraces it as a piece of the puzzle that makes her up. She knows where she has weaknesses she also has strengths. And seriously, I can thank Rick Rodian for making her believe her dyslexia is tied to her being a demigod.

I never thought I’d have a child with a learning disability/difference/whatever you want to call it. But it’s just a part of who she is.

She’s also a great little cheerleader, who wants to go to Worlds some day. And compete in all-star cheerleading in the Olympics (not a thing yet but hopefully will be). She records her own gymnastics and workout videos, then imports and edits them herself in Final Cut Pro.

Art, science and engineering are some of her best and favorite subjects, and though she says she doesn’t like it, she’s great at math. She may even apply for a STEM program for 4th and 5th graders.

And most of all, she has an incredible ability to know who she is. To politely decline doing something everyone else is doing. Or swing on the swings even if her friends prefer to sit in the shade. To look at her own artwork with pride knowing it was the best she could do. Her confidence to ask a friend, or raise her hand and say “I can’t read this,” without feeling embarrassed.

She is completely and undoubtedly aware of who she is. And it’s my job to love every bit of it.

 

Today’s blog sponsor is TalkEarly but the story I’ve shared and all opinions are my own. For more resources on having open and honest conversations with your children please visit TalkEarly.org

 

Easy healthy lunch snacks for kids

This is part 2 of our first week of school you can read part 1 here

“You don’t want to miss the bus!”

Early bus ride kindergarten
 

It’s pretty much the one thought that motivates my son to wake up and get moving in the morning.

He’s not morning person. So getting him to go from eating his breakfast to out the door isn’t the easiest thing at 6:30am.

Easy healthy lunch snacks for kids
 

While Lil’ J can eat her breakfast on the go, my son prefers his Stonyfield yogurt in his lunch. But he didn’t get around to eating it his third day of school because lunchtime is when the drama went down in the cafeteria. Shortly after I left the meeting with the assistant principal and my daughter’s teachers I got a message from my son’s saying that he was very upset after someone popped a bag of chips in the lunchroom. I knew this was probably a sweet Kindergarten teacher’s way of saying “Holy crap your kid lost his mind!”

He was crying for a period of time, but finally calmed down by recess.

Interestingly enough on their kindergarten “get to know you” sheet, responding to the question “What is your child afraid of?” we wrote down loud noises, like fireworks or balloons popping. Almost as a joke. Little did I realize he’d be experiencing one of his worst fears the first week of school.

Now I know my son and I know he holds grudges. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to get him to trust the cafeteria again. When he got home we spoke to him about it and told him it wouldn’t happen again. It was an accident. And we bribed him like crazy. That’s right. We aren’t above bribes.

“Friday you’ll get a new toy!” And I crossed my fingers it would work.

The next day I got a call from the assistant principal, not about my daughter, but my son. He was refusing to go into the cafeteria. He was scared. She let him eat in her office that day but she told him this couldn’t be an everyday solution. I said that my husband or I would come up there with him to help the next day.

Friday my husband went up to the school and watched as our son got ready to go into the cafeteria. He said said Big T was fine at first. They walked in together and though he was a little nervous, Big T sat down and was smiling and having fun. Then once he pulled his little lunch out… BOOM! It went off again. And our poor little guy start crying hysterically and had to leave.

My husband said it sounds way louder than he’d imagine a bag of chips sounding… More like if someone blew up a paper bag and smashed it as loud as they could. He felt bad for our son–Especially since we had been telling him it wouldn’t happen again the last couple of days.

A cafeteria worker got him some headphones to help muffle out the sound and he finally agreed to go back in. My husband who started out like “he just needs to get over this!” said it was a sad, strange experience but we’d just need to try to have him eat lunch with noise canceling headphones so that he wouldn’t be scared to go in the cafeteria.

So I ordered some in his favorite color and cried a little, then put in a call to our pediatrician to see if something else could be going on. I ate lunch with him the next time and he was totally fine, and thankfully has been since then. He still wears his headphones during lunch and takes them off right after.

 

At the end of the week I sat and laughed with my husband over all the tears shed and how much time I’d spent worrying about our two big kids this week. Our baby was just along for the crazy ride… I thought she was going to be the difficult one this year and boy was I wrong.

So that’s the truth behind our first week of school photos. There were quite a few tears behind those smiles of mine. So if you’ve experienced similar, know you’re not alone.

I’ll keep you posted on how the kids are doing and what I learn about 504s (if you’re interested). But I’m still very optimistic about this school year. The only part that stays consistently difficult is waking up. I’m not trying to be overly ambitious making a hot breakfast for the kids (unless hot from the toaster counts). And I prep things like their outfits and lunches the night before but it’s still a challenge for me not being used to getting started so early not to mention with an infant.

Easy healthy lunch snacks for kids
 

I’m so thankful for brands like Stonyfield that keep busy parents in mind when they create products that are easy to pack or grab and go with, but also are still organic and delicious for kids. I’m also thankful for my kids’ caring teachers and administrators who message me updates about their day and help keep my anxiety at bay. And I’m very thankful for school busses. Even though I still have to wake up at a crazy hour to cat it, no one has to see me in my PJs at the drop off line.

Easy healthy lunch snacks for kids

My kids survived their first week of public school. But of course they did. It was I who nearly suffered a nervous breakdown. Though we stood outside and took some adorable first day of school photos, the truth of the matter is, it wasn’t all roses and sunshine.

Getting out the door is the first hurdle. We’re used to sleeping in past 8am and starting school leisurely during breakfast. The first week the kids got on the bus at 6:57am. Yea, you read that right. For a start time of 7:35. Talk about brutal. Then week three they changed it to a bus time of 6:39am!

Easy healthy lunch snacks for kids

I waited at the bus stop with them after the first day (we drove them) and more than once they were finishing their breakfast at the bus stop. We pack their lunches and get everything ready the night before but just getting moving in the morning is hard enough. We had to chase the bus down one day when it was a few minutes early. And another day Lil’ J was downing her Stonyfield Yogurt Kids Pouch a few seconds before she hopped on.

If you watched my Instagram stories last week you likely saw my tearful laments about dropping my kids off the first day. I wasn’t as worried about my son who was only slightly nervous about me leaving him all day at Kindergarten. I didn’t even cry. But when I went to my daughter’s third grade class and she sat down to a get to know you worksheet at her desk the mood shifted.

First day of school

She looked at the worksheet and asked me what it said. I read the first section to her asking about her hobbies and interests. Then she looked at me with her big bright eyes holding back tears telling me she didn’t know how to spell it.

My heart began to crumble in my chest. I told her to try her best to sound it out, or ask the teacher, though she likely wouldn’t penalize her for spelling. I glanced at the child next to her who looked to be writing paragraphs with perfect penmanship and I nearly lost it.

First day of school dyslexia

We took a few pictures then I did my best to kiss her quickly and run out of the room before I cried all over the kids. I barely made it out the door before I started sobbing. I had a chance to tell the teacher about her dyslexia and reading struggles but I wasn’t sure if I should have elaborated more, sent a detailed note, or whatever.

I doubted the entire situation and replayed those last few moments in my head over and over sobbing all the way home and the next six hours. I envisioned her crying at school then sitting alone at lunch. I worried she’d be called on to read something aloud and feel embarrassed. The last hour before we left I managed to compose myself and lift my spirits by lunging myself into advocating for her needs.

When I went to pick her up at school she skipped up to me and told me how amazing her day was. She loved her teacher and her class. School was fun! What a relief! Later that night I asked if she had any insecurities about school and she said she was worried she’d get on the wrong bus home.

That was it.

At meet the teacher night I ran into the assistant principal and asked her about setting up an IEP for my daughter for her dyslexia. She said they did 504s and we scheduled a meeting to talk about it on Wednesday.

I spent the next 48 hours researching the difference between 504s and IEPs, gathering Lil’ J’s previous work, confirming details with her tutor, and praying.

I was prepared to walk into the meeting with a list of demands including a written one that they begin a formal evaluation within 60 days and keep me informed on the progress. I was so nervous and the meeting went nothing like I expected.

The assistant principal greeted me politely and walked me to a conference room with the dyslexia tutor and my daughter’s teacher. I was able to tell them her backstory of how she’d been memorizing books in kinder, and it took me awhile to realize she wasn’t not trying… she was trying, very hard. But has a more serious issue. I told them about her tutor and where her reading level is currently. And I was able to tell them how smart she is, and how she loves learning, and school, and how her comprehension is incredible.

They all nodded in understanding and told me with my permission, they would start the evaluation the next day. There was no need for my formal letter or my list of demands. We’ll meet again after the evaluation is complete (very quickly) and talk about the recommendations for services and accommodations. The assistant principal even shared that her daughter is dyslexic and they had a similar experience in the beginning finding out about it.

I walked out of that meeting on cloud 9. Thrilled that it had gone so much better than I had envisioned and confidant that this year back in public school would be great for my kids.

Then, I got a message from my son’s teacher that changed my mind.

To be continued… Part 2 live tomorrow morning.

We had big smiles for our first week of school photos, but the truth of the matter is, I was hiding a mess of emotions and a bit of chaos. Big thanks to @Stonyfield, the makers of the easy and delicious on-the-go yogurts for kids for sponsoring my new post sharing how it really went went down the first week of school. This is part one. Grab some popcorn cause it’s a doozy.

Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget

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I'm a part-time journalist, full-time wife and mother striving to make the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day.

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