Saturday, January 2, 2010

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.