My friend, Anisha, has had a very unique experience educating her son! I am inspired by her journey and I know you will be, too. I am thrilled to share her story of struggles, diagnosis, and learning to take one small step at a time.
Our oldest child began first grade at the local missionary school with great enthusiasm. A very inquisitive and social child, school seemed like just the right fit. Sure he’s a bit wiggly and didn’t know his alphabet despite our homeschool kindergarten co-op, but I wasn’t overly worried.
It didn’t take many weeks of school before my spirited early riser started sleeping in, crying every morning, and making despairing comments like, “I’m the worst in the class.” We quickly pulled him and began homeschooling.
In the middle of first grade I began to think there was more going on than what everyone else assured me. “He’s just a late bloomer.” rang hollow. I started to suspect a learning disability, but we would have to wait until he turned 8 years old, mid-way through second grade, before testing.
My son is profoundly dyslexic.
With the diagnosis came huge relief – I am not crazy. He really does have more than your typical learning struggles. But it also brought a lot of grief. My son asked recently, “Why does everything have to be so hard for me?” He is not exaggerating.
Because the missionary school does not have the resources to work with my son, there is no current possibility for him to attend. Homeschooling was not my first choice, but it is the only choice. And for this particular point in time, it is also the best choice.
Receiving a diagnosis like profound dyslexia, even if somewhat relieving, is very overwhelming and scary when you live in a remote area. Will we have to leave the field? was a very real fear. I felt alone and unqualified. Thankfully, the truth is I am neither.
Once we started asking around, we realised we are not without resources. We found a dyslexia teacher in the US to provide tutoring twice a week via online video chat. Amazing what is possible with technology! We’ve also connected with a learning disabilities specialist on another island who could review our curriculum, help plan for the school year, and give guidance on how to make accommodations for my son’s work.
Our homeschool looks very little like anything I would have planned on my own. Most of my son’s work is done through narration, with me acting as his scribe. We use audio books to allow him to grow unhindered in his love for great literature. We look for ways to demonstrate knowledge that doesn’t include writing or traditional testing. It is far more achievable for my son to make puppets, set a stage, and create a play about the life cycle of bats than it would be for him to write 3 sentences on the subject.
We still don’t have it all figured out. In the early grades, students with dyslexia typically cannot work independently on very much. With a bouncy four year old in the house, distractions abound. The quiet we need to be able to focus and work one-on-one is very hard to come by. Soon my four year old will attend morning pre-school. She is very excited, but truthfully the main reason to enrol her was so that I could have a couple precious uninterrupted hours to work with my son.
This is the life we were given. It has not gone according to what I would have planned, but here we are none the less. I tell my son, “I know it is hard, really hard. I also know that God loves you. He is pleased with you and He has good plans for you. It’s our job to just keep at it.”
Slowly, one foot in front of the other, we keep at it. Ok God, I pray, I’m trusting you here. This is scary, but I know you- and you’re really good. So I’m just going to hang on to that.
More About Anisha
Born to Chilean and Texan parents, Anisha first tasted missions in Mexico, fell in love with an Englishman in Africa, and now lives in Indonesia. She writes monthly for www.alifeoverseas.com, and keeps a sporadic journal of life in Indonesia on www.namasayamommy.com. You can contact her on facebook at BenAnishaHopkinson or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.