I have talked before about our second son, Farmer Boy, and his struggles with dyslexia.
The year after he was diagnosed, we had Little Cowgirl screened as well. We knew she was too young to get an extremely clear picture, but her results came back as a pretty convincing “probably so.”
Her journey so far has been much less difficult than her brother’s for several reasons. First of all, she is not as severely dyslexic. Secondly, she is not a self-flagulating perfectionist. Third, I knew ahead of time she might be dyslexic and approached teaching her from that angle. Fourth, she has never been learning in an institutional setting.
Homeschooling, however, cannot escape dyslexia. Like most children, Cowgirl has kept up just fine through our kindergarten and first-grade work. Then, like most dyslexic children, she started to show signs of struggling once we got into the meat of our second grade learning. When we first started learning about dyslexia, the psychologist screening Farmer Boy told us that most children are not diagnosed until closer to fourth grade. They typically begin falling behind in second grade, require extra help through third grade and are finally tested in fourth grade.
First grade went so well for Little Cowgirl that I allowed the whole magical year to drift by without stopping to be thankful. Her phonics program was a good fit and I knew I was teaching her in the method she needed if she were dyslexic at all.
Second grade, all twelve weeks of it so far, has been humbling. Parts of it have felt like starting over, and most of the new material has been like a wall made of brick. It is hard for me to say this because I always want to put the best homeschooling foot forward – I want everyone else to see how well it’s going for us. It’s also important for me to be honest in this space. That doesn’t mean I’ll be posting the details of our worst day ever (I”m a best day ever sort of gal). But it does mean I’m going to cop to it when something is weighing us down.
I am very thankful to be homeschooling, she doesn’t have to continue struggling through some of the things that aren’t working. She doesn’t realize that I’m switching out and dialing back some of her grade levels. She is happy to be in second grade and looking forward to her First Reconciliation and First Communion later this year.
I also realize that she is young. She is younger than the other second graders. Her motor skills are in a different place. Her experience is less.
If I could go back and do it over again, I would still begin her kindergarten lessons when she turned five. She was ready. I would still use the same phonics curriculum.
But I would probably have planned this year differently.
Homeschooling has been like every other part of parenting (for me, anyway): A constant guess. I base my decisions on what I know about each child and their situation, line that information up with our ultimate goals and pull the trigger.
I’ll let you know in about twenty years whether or not we even came close to the target.