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“Can you skim through this and then answer the following questions?….”
I certainly couldn’t. I would have to decode it bit by bit.
If set this task, I would feel overwhelmed and a time pressure would add to it. I think this gives us a little insight into how dyslexic children often feel. Why then do we expect students with significant dyslexia to sit exams? Their start position is way behind the start line.
Both Rhythm Dude and Sparkly Eyes problem solve their way through life daily with dyslexia. As a mum, it’s been a journey for me, and I’m constantly learning. I see their struggles, their extreme frustration and the way it knocks their confidence, even though neither have ever been at school. I see that it doesn’t just affect their ability to decode words, but the way they think. Their logic isn’t necessarily everyone else’s and I see their pain when they are misunderstood.
But, I also see the awesome young people they are, overflowing with gifts and abilities and bursting with potential. They both love stories and are good with words.
I don’t want to put them in a box; to try to squeeze them into a system which is way to narrow for their creative, sociable and exuberant personalities.
When I began home educating, I had done remarkably little research and was completely unaware of the many curriculums which were available. I’m so thankful for this! So, with the two boys, then aged four and two, we began a glorious adventure of fun and learning, building on their strengths, on our relationships and making lots of memories. We read lots, we spent hours outside, we had weekly outings and did numerous projects around it all. There was no mould into which they had to fit. They were free to develop into the young men whom God had created them to be, in all their uniqueness.
I noticed that Rhythm Dude shone whenever we visited museums, places of interest or even shops. He was always front of the queue when it came to asking questions. He was curious about everything and confident enough to ask. We did all our reading aloud and learning together and when it came to putting the findings of our projects on paper, he and his brother simply did it in different ways.
The dilemma came when he hit exam age. Rightly or wrongly we did attempt a couple of IGCSE’S with him, before he then entered the much broader college system, gaining a much sought after place on an early college transfer scheme in carpentry and joinery. He really thrived and grew during this year, picking up life skills, gaining independence and building up good relationships with other students and staff. I’ll always be grateful to the teacher who saw potential in him and created a space on an already full course. It was an excellent start to college life.
During this year he started to wonder whether his love of the outdoors could become a career so he changed onto a sports course. This was actually a more difficult transition than the one form home ed to carpentry, but he persevered and has just received results for his level 2 Btech in sports; a double distinction star, the top grade! This would be a wonderful achievement for any student, but for one who has the daily hurdle of significant dyslexia, it is quite remarkable.
While his academic achievements are what validates him in our world, I think it is his character, underpinning these, which is even more important. He is kind, empathetic and funny. He has huge perseverance and is very resilient, partly I’m sure due to having to push through so many barriers and having to pick himself up after so many falls. He has a strong faith and a maturity and wisdom for which I am so thankful.
He has just begun a level 3 Btech in sports therapy and exercise science. While there are extra hurdles and practical difficulties for him as a student with dyslexia, he is ever more confident in finding ways around these and his eyes shine when he recounts all his new found knowledge.
We used to talk to him about dyslexia being a gift, enabling him to think differently and have insights into people and situations which others may not. As he’s adapted to a more academic pathway at college I’m not sure he would always have seen it this way. He needs to work at least twice as hard as everyone else and any written piece of work takes much longer. Note taking is hard as he can’t write quickly enough and even learning to read lesson and bus timetables has been a challenge.
However, he is very determined and still has an enthusiasm for learning. He lets of steam playing rugby and drumming and is a bit of a legend according to one of his younger sisters! I’m so proud of the young man he is becoming. He is now the tallest in the family, much to his delight!
I’ll write next time about Sparkly Eyes’s journey thus far and some top tips I’ve picked up along the way. Until then,