Putting it Aside

When I first started teaching kids with dyslexia, I really wanted to help them learn to love reading. Reading has always been one of my great joys. I was that nerdy girl who always had a book with her–even reading on the playground if things got especially good.
After things got going, however, I started realizing that this was stupid goal. If you are someone who doesn’t read intuitively, reading is one long, uphill battle. Every unfamiliar word must be sounded out and again, if it doesn’t come intuitively, you have to recognize letter combinations and endings, and run through possibilities until you come up with the correct pronunciation.
So after a while I changed my focus. I started working on helping my kids get through their reading assignments from other teachers–we did read-alouds, audio books, and practiced skimming. We were also working on the endless steps for decoding text, but I wanted to give them life tools as well.

I was trying to get a picture of the two of us together, but clearly I haven’t figured it out yet.

I have to do the same thing with Charlie all the time, and it can be really hard sometimes.

I firmly believe that Charlie can do anything he wants. His determination is astounding.

I also have to realize that what he wants might not be the same as what every other toddler wants.

There’s a really wonderful website for teaching your toddlers–it’s called No Time For Flashcards. Just reading the name of that site makes me hate myself a little . I mean, I show Charlie flashcards ALL THE TIME. All the time.

What I have to realize, though, is that what makes Charlie happy and fulfilled isn’t the same as other toddlers. Arts and crafts is completely meaningless to him. It’s a lot of holding your head up and looking at the same time and that itsn’t his idea of a good time.

I’ve had to accept that the only way he’ll let me read is a story is with both of us flat on our back, looking up at the book, and even then he might crawl away after the second page.

He loves those flashcards, though–especially new ones. He smiles and kicks and most of the time I don’t have to remind him to look.

So I have to accept a middle ground. I have to put aside my expectations of what his toddler days should be. While I believe firmly in learning by doing, I also know that sometimes the effort involved in doing makes the experience unenjoyable. This doesn’t mean that I have to give up on active learning or doing crafts, but I also don’t have to kick myself if our learning style is different.

I’m slow with these lessons, but I swear I’m learning them.

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  1. bravo. it's such a break-through when we let go of our expectations and accept who our children are. never easy. and it changes all the time. I was good at working with Queen Teen and adapting the world for her when she was a toddler, and all through elementary school. but now she's a teen and all those things that used to work are useless. we're starting from scratch again and it can be so frustrating. your post was a great reminder for me let go of my own wishes and pay attention to HER wishes. Thank You.

  2. yeah, we threw away the 'normal kid manual' as soon as Graham was born.

    His version has always been all his very own. It has worked for him and for us and suprisingly, for his 'normal' sister too.

  3. "There's an App for that"!!!

    Look up Elias Smiles in the Apps store and get the two sets of flashcards….they have sound and movement….
    There's ABC's and Animals.
    Even Eli likes them… πŸ˜‰

  4. Life is always a lesson and as long as both of you are still learning and growing then I think that it is a win, win situation. Steps along life's path. No one takes the same ones, but enjoy everyone of them!

  5. It is so true, Katy. Charlie has a mind all his own and they sure have ways of getting their point across. Sometimes it seems like the more we want something to happen for our children, the more they resist. Then we give up and ….BAM… they decide to do it!

  6. Good for you! I should really have a post somewhere talking about why I named my site that. It's not so much about not using flash cards, as much as it is exactly about what you are doing. Listening to our kids, their needs and not forcing them into our idea of learning. Instead finding out how they learn and have fun doing it and following their lead.

  7. thanks for the website . . . and I've given up so many of my previous teacher expectations and "rules" since having Clayton!

  8. I think that's so interesting that you had to give up your idea of making kids LOVE reading. I'm a huge reader and it comes very intuitively to me, too, so it's hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea that for some people, reading is just WORK, not fun. This may just change how I parent. A person doesn't have to love reading… who knew?!

  9. As much as I love that site as well, I realize that Austin will work at his own pace. And {gasp} we do flashcards too!

  10. I need (badly) to work on learning this lesson. I have a stepson who I think is likely dyslexic but his school doesn't really believe in learning disabilities because they hate labels too deeply to use them. I get very frustrated with his lack of progress and I don't have a clue what it is like to be in his shoes, because learning and reading were always easy for me. I tell myself every weekend when he is in my home that I just need to love him for who he is, but it is killing me that he isn't getting the specialized help that would make him more able.