Photos by MarElly from Happy Thoughts Studios
READERS COME IN DIFFERENT “SHAPES AND SIZES”
Empowering a young reader has its own set of challenges. Introducing them to new skills will always take time and practice until it is mastered. I had the privilege of teaching my son how to read using this amazing book : TEACH YOUR CHILD TO READ IN 100 EASY LESSONS.***
*** I have included a clickable image, if you are interested in purchasing thru my affiliate link – which allows me to make a small commission from your purchase at no additional cost to you.***
Anyways, we followed the instructions in the book, for only 15 minutes a day, he learned how to read. The book comes with all of the instructions needed. It highlights what you -the parents- need to say and to the child. No additional work needed from parents, except to read to your child what the book says. I am not even kidding when I say it was amazing and effortless. I did motivate my son by offering a sticker for every 15 minute lesson. At the end of the week he could turn in his stickers for a prize ( I usually took him out to pick a toy at Target). That was it; that was all it took, 100 lessons and my son was reading.
It was not the same with Bella. Our reading journey has been marked by tears, lots of hard work and determination. I have learned that readers come in all different “shapes and sizes” and that no two kids learn the same. They all have a unique key to learning -and it is our job to discover what that key is!
ITS NOT A DISABILITY
While it only took 100 easy lessons with my son…it has taken over 100 tears to get Bella to read some words. It was not until the end of her 1st grade school year, that we learned that Bella has dyslexia. I remember sitting in a 504 meeting at school, hearing over and over that my child has a disability. A disability? gosh- that was such a harsh label, one that would academically follow her for the rest of her life – and I had to sign papers accepting this “disability” so that we could get her the tools she needed to learn.
BUT let me pause right here to say this… to any mom out there who has a kid with dyslexia….your child DOES NOT HAVE A DISABILITY… your child learns differently. It was not until I was enlightened by this, that I was able to move on and get Bella the help she needed. She has a very creative brain, one that is over-active, very very sharp. Listen to me, your child is very smart!! If no one has taken out the time to tell you this, I want you to hear it from me. There is NOTHING wrong with your child, they are extraordinary and learn differently. They have been “fearfully and wonderfully made; for God’s works are wonderful, I know that full well. –Psalm 139:14.
UN-LOCKING BELLA’S READING KEY
Once she was diagnosed with Dyslexia, I began my research. I read anything I could on it. I wanted to know as much as I could so that I could help my child.
Un-locking the key to Bella learning how to read, took time and a lot of trial and error. A lot of frustrating moments for the both of us. Tutors, self-help books & time. I remember the first time we discovered the power of music. We had music blasting in the background and Bella was able to read like she had never read before. At first I didn’t understand what has happening…but as she began to read and hum the music in the background, I was enlightened. Music was the key to un-locking her brain. That was the start, it was a magical tool for us…..that is not to say that it was easy from them on, we still had a lot of work to do.
FROM HATING SCHOOL TO ACCEPTANCE
Can I also share, that since we discovered Bella’s love for music and its association with how she learns, she has grown to accept going to school. Notice I said accept not loved. Bella is also a Highly Sensitive Child, if you are interested in our journey with that, please check out this post: PARENTING A Highly sensitive Child: How to help them thrive in an overwhelming world. Because she is a highly sensitive child she has had problems with her desire to even step foot in a school. But she has and she does. She has grown so much and has become such a confident child. We are very proud. Teacher’s have played a huge role in her academic life -some for the best and some for, well, let’s just say we have been able to discover what works and what does not work with Bella.
WHAT OUR DYSLEXIA READING ROUTINE LOOKS LIKE
Let me start with a disclaimer, I am by no means a professional. I am sharing with you what has worked for our child who has dyslexia, in hopes, that maybe one of these things can help you and your child in your own dyslexia journey. This list is my no means exhaustive and it is not the only techniques that work.
FIND A COMFY SPOT
We always allow Bella to pick her favorite spot. This empowers her to make a choice for herself & it makes it fun! But beware, you might end up reading in a tree house or underneath a fort of bedsheet. As long as its safe and a places where she can get her reading done, we are in. Tip: play music on your mobile phone, or maybe a portable speaker!
A GREAT SNACK
Picking a delicious snack, before we get started on reading our books, allows for less distractions and it also brings a more enjoyable experience. We have found that there was no better time for hunger to strike than just as we sat down to read. Now we are prepared for a snack attack. Tip:buy a special snack, one that she can only have during her reading time.
FOLLOW ALONG WITH YOUR FINGER
Here is something that we are constantly practicing ( because she looses her spot frequently) pointing to the text as she reads. We have noticed that reading fluency improves as she follows along, pointing to the text.
FIND A FURRY FRIEND TO READ TO
I have been seen climbing up a tree house with a stuffed animal at hand. I wonder what my neighbors think. ha! I have found it extra helpful to have Bella’s favorite stuffed animal or baby doll to read to. A fun way for them to read to “someone” other than me. Bella started to understand that she reads at a different pace than her classmates. It was nice for her to read to a stuffed animal that was not going to “correct her” or make her feel like “she should know how to read this words”. Stuffed animals don’t judge!
SET A TIME LIMIT
Let me be really honest. Reading is not Bella’s favorite thing to do. Allowing her to see how long she has to read for (or how long she has read) allows her brain to understand that the task at hand will not last forever, there is a time limit.
20 MINUTES A DAY
Consistency has been key. It is the same with kids as they are learning to read, but it is so much so with our child with dyslexia. Practice, practice, practice. Every single day we sit down and practice reading and writing skills. We try to make it as fun as possible, but it does need to occur on a daily basis. Consistency has been another key to getting Bella to her next reading level.
WRITE DOWN DIFFICULT WORDS
I like to write down the words that Bella struggles with on the text so that we can practice them later. Practice and consistency are key. So if she is struggling with a specific word, I want to get that word in front of her as much as possible. Maybe I will use the word more often in our daily conversations, I like to write it down on a 3x5 card and place it right my the TV. I added it to her writing practice. Anyway that I can get the word to be used/seen more frequently will help her remember it!
We are partners! You and your child are partners! It is our jobs to be the encouragers, the 'teachers' the tutors, the advocates. Be present in their 504 meetings, don't just do it over the phone. Schedule in regular meetings with their teachers, ask lots of questions & take responsibility for your child's education. Gosh- that may sounds really harsh- but it's not- I mean it in the best way possible - because the success of our kids is greatly influenced by us as parents.
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Great heartfelt article, Melissa! Lots of moms with appreciate you sharing with honestly your journey, struggles, and victories. Bella is an amazing and caring girl! I highly recommend the book “The Way They Learn” by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. Understanding each child’s way of seeing and interpreting the world helps a lot.