Hip Hip Hooray for school starting back! Summer was fun and now I’m craving a little structure and routine.
This week my daughter, Ellie, started second grade. When I asked how her first day of school went she reported, “Best first day ever!”
This was music to my ears and really quite shocking, because for the last two years my child has asked me more often than not if she can be homeschooled. She asks this not because she doesn’t like school, but because she’s a total homebody and doesn’t like to be away from me.
Every morning since kindergarten she’s teared up when we say our goodbyes at the classroom door and I typically have to ask the teacher to hug her while I scurry away. In fact, on the morning of her first day of school this week she hugged me for dear life and started to cry.
Thankfully, her amazing teacher caught on and swooped her up in her arms as I zig-zagged my way through the desks and out the door. So I set my expectations pretty low when asking her how her first day went and was pleasantly surprised by her response!
One of Ellie’s biggest concerns going into this school year was reading. Early on when she was learning her alphabet I started to see signs of struggle. My mother-in-law noticed it, too, when working with her on her letters and reading, so she got her tested. That’s when we found out she has dyslexia.
I didn’t know much about dyslexia, except that my little brother had it growing up and really struggled in grade school. I was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (A.D.D) as a kid, so I realized I’d assumed it was similar to that.
Little did I know it’s something different all together. When someone has dyslexia his or her brain has a hard time processing and recognizing certain types of information. such as sounds, symbols, letters, etc.
Once I sat down with Ellie’s amazing teacher toward the end of last year and found out she was really struggling with reading and phonics, I realized I needed to leap into action to get her some professional help.
At the time, a dear friend of mine was having similar challenges and was doing research of her own. Finally, after months of collecting information that lead to dead ends, my friend got connected with an amazing certified academic language therapist named Martha Gak. She is certified in multisensory teaching approach (MTA), which essentially uses auditory, visual, and kinesthetic approaches to improve memory and overall learning.
Ellie worked with Martha about four days a week all summer long and I can’t begin to tell you how helpful it’s been.
I can see the fruits of Ellie’s labor paying off because her confidence is really blooming. I can tell because all this week, her teacher tells me she’s been raising her hand to answer questions, contributing to class discussions, and asking more questions, which she’s typically been reserved and hesitant to do. I think working with Martha has given her the tools she needs to be a successful learner.
When I talked to Ellie to ask her permission to share her experience with others in the hope it will help people with similar challenges, she gave me an emphatic, “Yes!” and added, “Please tell them I got to take off my shoes in class and play on the playground before tutoring and that she gave me tools to help me learn.” So there ya have it!
Over the summer, Ellie and I talked at great lengths about some influential and successful people who have dyslexia—from entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, to famous directors like Stephen Spielberg, to other brilliant minds such as Einstein and Picasso.
I remind her often that she’s brilliant and learns in her own way. Her self-confidence is of the utmost importance to me. I know how dealing with my own learning disabilities crushed my self-confidence and how I’ve had to work on rebuilding it even into adulthood.
I want my daughter to know it’s OK to ask for help, that in life we have to make sacrifices and put in the work and the time in order to reach our goals. Just like she did in dedicating her summer to working with Martha.
In life, the best part is when we work hard at something and make improvements, we grow in confidence.
Watching Ellie come out of her shell this summer and start to believe in herself and her ability to learn to read has been the greatest reward of all.
I’d be interested to know. What’s a recent challenge you are wanting help with? Where do you think you should start in finding help for that challenge?
Looking forward to hearing from you!
If you are in the same boat we are and have a child with dyslexia and live in the Dallas, TX area, then I’m more than happy to share Martha’s information with you. She gave me permission to let you know you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact her directly at 972-330-1674. She’s amazing and truly an answer to our prayers.
As always, thank you so much for spending your precious time with me today! Hope you found it helpful and encouraging. So grateful for YOU! Love and Blessings.