I mentioned in a post a few months ago that Bee was having a hard time with reading. That was a bit of an understatement. I talked to many of my friends about this – seeking advice from homeschool moms, friends who are teachers – and I often heard variations on, “It will happen.” It will click. Some kids just take longer to learn than others. Be patient.
Well, I was being patient, I think. In fact, I started to worry that I was being too patient, waiting too long to identify the problem that was holding things up. I’m not much of a worrier as a parent. I’m the mom who says, “Let’s wait this out rather than going to the doctor,” or “I’m not forcing her to wear a coat. If she freezes maybe she won’t argue about wearing one next time,” and “He’ll be fine. We’ve all got a few scars from childhood, don’t we?”
That’s me. So when I say, “I think something’s wrong,” it means I’ve been ignoring warning signs for all long as humanly possible. I’ve also watched four other children in our family learn to read, and I know some things about how that typically works. So when my extremely bright, thoughtful 7-year-old was still laboring to sound out “dog” at the end of “Go, Dog, Go!”, I really felt something was amiss. It was also painful to hear her confidence sinking. She would report to me with a combination of admiration and perplexity that younger friends were reading chapter books. “But I can’t read. I hate reading.”
I won’t give you the long version. The short version is this: I began to suspect dyslexia but was still in my avoiding-paying-a-professional mode. I found some strategies online for teaching children who are dyslexic and followed the easiest possible suggestions, involving lots of homemade flashcards and lots of colored markers.
And it happened! Something clicked. It’s been about a month and Bee is reading to me now. Not chapter books, but she’s certainly conquered “Go, Dog, Go!”, as well as “Green Eggs and Ham”, “The Foot Book”, “In a People House”, and many other classics. She’s also reading the instructions in her math book (she’s a math whiz), and reading signs we pass on the road, and just generally discovering that there are words everywhere. She’s stopped saying that she can’t read. She’s stopped saying that she hates reading – and thank God for that, because that’s one of the saddest things anyone can say, as far as I’m concerned.
Was I worrying over nothing? Was it all just a matter of time? I don’t think so. I think something about those flashcards and those bright colors triggered something in her brain to see words as more than jumbles of discrete symbols that were out to make her life miserable.
And so I say thank God for the Facebook friend who mentioned the website, and thank God for the website where I found help, and thank God for the little blonde sitting next to me as I type who is so radiantly proud of herself as she reads to me this morning. We have some catching up to do, and I suspect reading may never be the easiest subject for her. But Bee is reading and it feels like a miracle.