our journey to homeschooling part 3
If you would like to read my earlier posts on our journey to home schooling you will find part one here and part two here.
After my sons emotional admission that the letters and words wiggled while he tried to read them, I knew we were somewhere in the area of dyslexia which narrowed my research as I desperately looked for ways to help him. It's interesting that as a dyslexic person myself, I really had no idea how to help him. I grew up in a time when reading challenges were rarely identified and kids like me were accused of not paying attention or not being focused. I'm honestly not sure how I learned to manage my dyslexia, but I knew it could be done. We limped along for the rest of his kindergarten experience.
Summer before First Grade
During the summer between kindergarten and first grade I struggled emotionally, a lot. I felt the pressure of having around 11 weeks of summer to get him caught up to grade level. You see, my son was fortunate to have several really good friends from his class at school and I had developed friendships with their mothers. I deeply enjoyed my son being a part of his school. Yet I knew that returning was going to be a huge gamble. The work would only intensify so his chances of feeling inadequate or observing the differences between him and his classmates would begin to show. These children were all growing up and while all of his friends were reading with grade level fluency, my son struggled to recall letters and the sounds the letters made. I invested in a summer curriculum targeted to kids with reading issues and I worked closely with him that summer on phonetic awareness and decoding words. It was two steps forward, one step back all summer, but small gains were made. Because of this, I enrolled him in the first grade. OK, complete truth here, I did enroll him because he demonstrated some gains over the summer but it was my emotions that was driving that enrollment. I wanted him back in school, I wanted him to continue to be around his friends, I wanted to be around their parents. I felt a part of a community and I was terrified of losing that. I was also still wrestling with the idea of my son "mainstreaming" I was not in a space yet of being able to admit his challenges warranted a specific and specialized approach. Denial, I was in complete denial. It's funny as I write this I see how much I tried to will my son into being a typical first grader with no learning issues. I honestly believed it would work out, that the switch would flip any moment and all would come into focus for him and we'd label these years as him needing additional time to grow and mature. Turns out this was me being delusional and my son paid the price. Starting first grade in school was our biggest mistake.