I saw a client this morning who knows two of my children are homeschooled.
She wanted to know who teaches them. Who gives them their classes. Well, I do I replied.
What do YOU know? (In a very accusing you-are-messing-up-their-lives tone of voice) Are you a qualified teacher? What do you know about maths for example.
Well…I told her that I got 98% for maths at university. I think I know enough.
It bothered me all afternoon. How dare she. This is actually the first time that someone has asked me this to my face. Dared to judge my decision, my parenting to my face.
Tonight though I realized one of the things I do know. I know that I have a dyslexic child who just asked me to explain his maths work because he didn’t quite grasp it and he didn’t want to wait until tomorrow. A child who wants to learn.
So no, I don’t have a degree in teaching but I do know my child better than anyone else. I know to encourage him to want to learn and not force him to do so.
“Any fool can know. The point is to understand” Albert Einstein
Friday we were busy with Afrikaans and part of our work for the day was to conduct interviews. Jason was promptly nominated as the first person to be interviewed and as always we had some brilliant answers from him and spent most of the time laughing. He really could be a standup comedian. Homeschooling would not be the same without him.
Some of the questions were very straight forward…the usual what is your favourite food, colour etc.
Zander was also interviewed and one of the questions asked was what is you biggest wish.
“My biggest wish is to be able to read.”
There was a very short moment of silence, where both Jason and I knew we had to handle this answer the correct way. We don’t want him to feel any less because he battles to read. We want to acknowledge the fact that he does, as well as give him praise because he never gives up.
My heart broke. In that very moment my heart broke for him. Why should his biggest wish be to be able to read? Why not to meet his hero (who BTW he said was me), get the newest electronic game, new cellphone or whatever it is that young boys desire? Why the ability to read fluently? Life can be very unfair.
However, I am very proud of him. Proud that he is not embarrassed to admit he is dyslexic. That is doesn’t mind asking for help if he is not sure how to read a word. He is fine with the fact that his friends will correct his spelling. I’m proud that he actually types whatsapp messages instead of sending voice-notes. Not the lazy kind of typing (where typing 2morrow is such a time-saver! What on earth will you do with that extra split seconds you saved) No, even my dyslexic son takes the time to type out the words.
Zander, I love you. I love how you accept the hand dealt to you even though I know it can’t be easy. I will forever be proud of who you are.
Remember that you are allowed more than one wish.
Your greatest supporter
Zander had to write an Afrikaans story yesterday. Let me tell you that when he was still in “normal” school, that would bring tears to his eyes. He felt incompetent to do that. He didn’t want to write more than a short sentence. Writing took long. Concentrating on spelling and remembering what it was that he wanted to write about took time. Time he never had in school. (Just to make it clear I don’t blame school. Class is only so long.)
We just finished his Afrikaans for the year yesterday. His last activity was to write a story. I’m going to rewrite it here, with his spelling mistakes. He has dyslexia and unless he uses the speech to text program, his spelling is typical that of a dyslexic person. So either read past that or try and understand what it is like for him to write.
Before I do that though, look at this. This was posted on a website and tries to show us what it looks like for a dyslexic person to read and obviously that is one of the reason why spelling is so difficult.
Die gesegde is hulle bekly soos kat en hond
Daar was ‘n kat en ‘n hond wat altyd bekly het. Hulle dag en dag bekly. Een dag toe bekly hulle nog en ieweskilik wou ‘n arint kat vag. 😦 Hond het gese: “Ek gaan dut nie toe laat nie.” Hond het gehartloop en die aarent gebyt die arent het vinig gevlug.
Kat het gesê: “DankieDankieDankie!!! 🙂 Dankie baie hond jy het my lewe geret.” Hond:” Enige tyd my goei vrind.”
Kat en hond het van dei dag af nie weer bekly nie.
Daar is soveel redes hoekom hierdie storie vir my so mooi is. Hy tyd geneem om te dink oor wat hy wil skryf. Hy het die storie beplan. Die storie is nie net een sin in ‘n paragraaf nie. Hy het direkte rede gebruik. Hy het dit geniet. Dis die belangrikste. Hy het dit geniet.
Ek is so ongelooflik vreeslik trots op die seun.
The decision was not made within a day, not within a week or a month. I have been thinking of homeschooling Zander since the beginning of the year. If I’m honest I have probably considered it subconsciously since Grade 1.
That’s when I realized letters don’t make any sense to him. At all. He could not differentiate between any of the letters. It wasn’t just “b and p” or “d and b”. They just didn’t make any sense. I knew that he was dyslexic, I just didn’t have the final diagnosis.
If I knew then what I know now, I would have home-schooled him from Grade 1.
The final decision was only made on Sunday. Big rush to get books and such but we have started on what I know he battles with. That’s the joy of it all. I can work on what HE battles with.
I can do this. I worked full-time and studied via Unisa after school. I got my degree in the same amount of time as I would have, had gone to university full time. I know that I can make time to make things work. I have always done that.
I know that I’m doing what Zander needs. I have to help him. He has changed so much in the course of the year. Emotionally he is not the same child. The pace is just too fast. He is not keeping up and the teacher (understandably) get upset. They can’t keep the class behind for one child.
He has been called “stupid”. Told to go on medication because he is too slow. I can’t do that to him. The school has gone above and beyond to accomodate with exams but the problem lies with class work.
If you look at most of his school marks, you would think I’m a tiny bit crazy. I would understand that. He gets distinctions! However if you look at the languages you will realize I have no choice.
So wish us luck.
When your dyslexic child gets 90 % for Afrikaans, you are blown away. Seriously blown away.
I know it might sound as if it’s impossible for a dyslexic child to get 90% for a language subject but he did it! It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have dyslexia. It means that he studied and studied and did his spelling and knew everything off by heart.
He has an amazing Afrikaans teacher and between the two of them, he got 90%!
I don’t have any illusions. I know it won’t always be like this. If you look at the photo below, you will understand why I’m so excited.
This is how he will start out with his first paper I give him to complete. He knows all the answers but the spelling is almost to the point where I can’t read it.
He will then have to work on spelling since he has to learn it off by heart. There won’t always be so few to learn. That’s when it will get really tough.
I am so very proud of him.
So very proud.
He has dyslexia.
He has dyslexia.
There. I have said it out loud. I have acknowledged it.
Wow, it physically hurts. Not because he has dyslexia. Because there will always be bullies. People who hurt him and I can’t protect him from that.
He also doesn’t talk about his feelings. Always smiles. Always. So I can’t take on a bully and explain to him that actually he is extremely clever. That people with dyslexia normally have an above average intelligence. That he works harder than 90 % of other kids his age. That he has occupational therapy that lasts over an hour. That he never gives up. That he doesn’t take days off or skip homework. That he isn’t lazy and that he is everything but stupid.
Please don’t call him stupid. Please don’t. He might not get the same marks on his report as you do but that does not make him stupid.
I think it’s safe to say that Richard Branson is not stupid. That Einstein was not stupid. That George Washington was not stupid. The list is endless.
Please don’t be an a-hole and hurt my son. He doesn’t deserve it.
It is difficult enough.
Just remember that he has to work differently, think differently, work harder than you. He will be used to it when he is a grown-up. He will be used to thinking out of the box and seeing things differently. He will stand out. Just like he does now but this time in a good way.
He might be the entrepreneur you have to work for one day. Someone like Bill Gates. When you look at your computer, remember that a Dyslexic person created Microsoft.
Please don’t bully him. He is not stupid.