It took until 5th grade . . .

It should not take this long but sadly, it often does, as this parent shared: 

We started our journey in first grade, when our daughter’s teacher shared that she was not grasping reading concepts as fast as she should. I was shocked because I had read to her since she was a baby, and books were a big part of our home.

For the rest of that school year, we spent many long, tearful evenings trying to teach her the sight words. We would go over and over and over them, but she could not retain them.

We also spent at least two hours every night doing homework, and practicing her reading.

Despite that, at the beginning of third grade, she was only reading 27 words per minute – which was at the bottom of her class.

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She also struggled with spelling. I got her list several days early, so we would have extra time to learn the words. It did not help.

Over the years, the teachers said, “It will click one of these days,” or “She is young for her grade,” and “You are doing all the right things at home.” Yet year after year, she spent many long, tearful nights doing homework.

When I asked if she might have a learning disability, the answer was always, “No.”

In fifth grade, we hit a wall. That year, she spent four to five hours a week studying her spelling words – just to get a D.

She also got a D in Social Studies, even though I read the textbook out loud to her, because her vocabulary was way behind.

She began to have problems with her peers, partly due to her very low self-esteem.

At the end of some of our homework battles, she began to say she should be dead because she was useless. She stayed up late every night due to anxiety, and she developed depression. We knew we had to do something, but we did not know the cause of her academic struggles.

Then a friend at a party suggested she might have dyslexia. Our life changed that very day.

We decided to homeschool, which our daughter had been begging us to do since first grade, and we began using the Barton System as our language arts curriculum.

I have watched her grow into an amazing person.

I will never forget the day she started reading road signs out loud.

When she finished Level 6, I shared she could now start reading textbooks on her own. For her social studies assignment, there was a five page story to read, then an outline to complete, and comprehension questions to answer. She proudly completed all of it by herself. That was a HUGE self-esteem boost, and it has shown up in all areas of her life.

She now reads books for fun, and she is finally understanding how to spell words.

Homeschool is getting less time consuming as her vocabulary grows because we don’t have to explain as many words before we move forward. She is also better able to recall terms and ideas.

Only a year and a half ago, she was labeled “functionally illiterate.”

I can not thank you enough, Susan Barton, for saving my daughter and bringing my family such peace and happiness!

Please feel free to share our story to bring hope to other families who are still struggling.

Teresa Danelski
Sturgeon Lake, MN

9 responses

  1. This story is very similar to my daughter’s. We found out she had dyslexia in 6th grade and it changed our lives. The amount of homework she did in 5th grade seemed insurmountable. I got tired of being told she is improving when she actually continued slipping further and further behind. Now her self esteem is so much better and her work ethic has improved dramatically. She is proud of who she is and isn’t afraid to stand up for herself. She still has some hurdles ahead but she works with a positive attitude every day. Thanks

    1. Did you also decide to homeschool?

  2. This was also very similar to our daughter’s story. Sadly, we had to continually ask for help and finally seek answers outside of our school district. I think it was near the end of 7th grade until we finally were able to receive Dyslexia testing outside the school district. I always felt like she “fell through the cracks” for several years. Once we found out she was Dyslexic, we were able to find answers. Today, she still struggles to some extent but her self esteem is greatly improved and she looks at life with a positive outlook. I wish I had known about Barton Reading & Spelling System back then. Now I’m a tutor teaching Barton Reading & Spelling System.

  3. Thank you for sharing this story. My son had a similar experience. Although we knew from kindergarten there was something very different about my son’s learning style. It wasn’t until Fifth grde that he finally received a proper evaluation and intervention. We are finishing up His current tutoring program and I plan to use Barton for my son who is now in six grade. I also plan to tutoring my fourth grader who is struggling and hit that 3rd grade brick wall . I’m glad so to know that there are programs that work for older students!!! And I don’t have to worry about finding the funding for future private program/tutoring programs. We are asking my son’s school to count the tutoring as his Language arts homework and they agreed. We are looking forward to seeing the progress he will continue to make !

  4. As a fellow MN parent I understand. The school tested and told me many times there was no way my son was dyslexic, but they could not explain why he was 2 grade levels behind in reading. Yet, he didn’t qualify for any help. Finally I found a specialist outside of school that I could afford and he was diagnosed: Dyslexia, dysgraphia and discalcula. Now we pay out of pocket for a tutor.

  5. My son struggled in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades. By the end of 3rd grade we paid for his testing and it showed Dyslexia and Dysgraphia. We began working with a Tutor teaching him an Orton Gillingham system. We started the summer before his 4th grade year. he completed the system at the end of his 6th grade year. We traveled 90 miles round trip twice a week for 60 minutes tutoring sessions each day. I then championed for accomidations with school work, which the school was willing to do without much reservation. My son worked and worked so hard and it paid off for him. He will now graduate HS in 2019, is FFA President for his school’s chapter. I have seen skills and talents develop in him because of his disability.

  6. Wow, reading your story made me think someone had submitted our story to you! Extremely similar experience with our very bright daughter who also finally hit the wall in 5th grade. We had a horrible time at a private school for K thru 5th. We actually mentioned dyslexia in Kindergarten since they pushed them to read that early. We’re also told she didn’t have it. We asked for testing in 3rd grade; the school’s intermediate unit did one test (which they did not explain to me) and said she did not have dyslexia. Her 3rd grade teacher pronounced that she’d never be a good reader. In 5th grade after a hurrendous time with the school’s resident “reading specialist” who told us she did not believe in dyslexia (whatever that is supposed to mean); we were able to find a neuropsychologist who properly diagnosed her with dyslexia. There is a VERY BRIGHT side to this story so please be encouraged. I homeschooled our daughter for 6-7 grade and got her a special Orton-Gillingham tutor. What an amazing and wonderful transformation she went through over those two years. She went to a different private school for 8-12 grade. With the proper support and accommodations in place, she graduated as the valedictorian! She loves to read for pleasure and does not shrink from picking up 800 page books. She also just graduated from the college of her choice. She is one of the most interesting, creative young ladies I know. These kids just need the proper help and early intervention; they can do amazing things!

    1. I homeschool but have been part of a hybrid private school/homeschool where me son goes 2 times a week and 3 days he is with me. We just for out he has dyselxia and he has a processing speed of 3%. He is supposed to be going into 6th grade. He was diagnosed as moderate heading to severe. My desire is to still homeschool. We have been going to a Barton tutor since novermber. He is doing better. What curriculum did you use?
      Thanks tia

  7. I am in India my daughter is also having reading and writing issues and really has to struggle and loses on other activities which she is really good at we don’t have much scope for home schooling in India our society makes life more miserable for children by there sharp negative comments. I am getting her evaluation for LD done at Nair hospital. which is a very lengthy process. But I don’t know which system should I adopt to help her read.

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