"Finding joy in learning something new about the world everyday and sharing it with those around you."
As a child, I struggled to memorize my math facts. I wasn't as fast as my peers and I was forever on each level of timed tests. I was also an average student, getting mostly C's in grade school. At some point I began to do better in school. I was an avid reader so I know this helped although higher academic content took a lot of effort. But math was always my weak point and math is VERY important to schools. Algebra was my undoing and the final verdict on my inability was marked with a D in my last math class in high school. When I went to college I was so excited that I would not have to take another math class to earn a degree. But my math anxiety never left me and I always felt like a failure.
When I had children, I prayed they would be like their father as learning always came easy to him. I wanted to believe this so bad it took me years before I saw that my son was just like me and I was devastated. I brought my son home to school after 3rd grade because he hated school. Math was a particular source of anxiety for him, especially the timed multiplication tests, followed by reading and writing. I was nervous about teaching him, but I could see how school was making him feel less than who he was.
He immediately did better at home, but there was still something holding him back. My boy, who could tell you everything about his favorite animals using high level vocabulary, could not or would not write more than a few words before he was done. And that is if you could read his handwriting. We spent years working on handwriting, typing, flashcards and reading. He was learning but it was clear that he was working below his potential. Something was holding him back. A friend suggested we have him tested for Dyslexia and once that was done, everything made sense...about him and me.
Through the process of tutoring him for dyslexia, I learned a lot about myself. One thing we both learned is that even though we aren't lightening fast with multiplication, we can actually do math...even Algebra (for me)! I learned that although I am an avid reader, my understanding of words lacked depth. As tutoring progressed, it was as if chains were removed from my son and suddenly he could write and read for more than 10 minutes at a time. At one point he even asked me why no one had ever taught him like this before...it finally made sense.
My son is now attending an early college program at a local community college and is doing well. Despite this, he still has lingering doubts about his intelligence (which is and never has been an issue) and he still doesn't like school, but with each success and with greater understanding of how he learns, he feels empowered to move forward toward a degree, a career and his future.
As for me, I'm in the process of learning word etymology so that I might help others not just read and spell words, but understand what they mean. It is truly a joy when you explain to someone why a word is spelled the way it is because of what it means and the understanding that can come with that. Scholarship is not about being quick with knowledge recall, memorizing facts or mastering certain skills at certain ages or in a measured amount of time, it is about engaging in the world around you and noticing things. It's about finding joy in learning something new about the world everyday and sharing it with those around you. And that is often easier to do when you aren't trying to be lightening fast with facts. Perhaps Dyslexia is more of a gift than a learning disability.
—Submitted by a parent