Tutoring is only half the answer
Parents ask why I often state that private schools (such as Montessori, Waldorf, Christian, Catholic or Jewish schools) can be better places for children with dyslexia than public schools.
Private schools often do not know any more about dyslexia than public schools, but they are much more willing to provide free simple classroom accommodations — which are as critical as the right type of tutoring.
A parent of a child in a public school recently sent me a BCC of this email that she sent to her child’s teacher.
Dear Mrs. Smith:
It is 1:45 a.m. and I am not sleeping . . . again.
I am frustrated and hoping for your help.
I waited a few days since Lynn’s IEP meeting before writing this.
I do not want to come off as unreasonable or angry. But I cannot help but feel like the last 2-3 months of the school’s assessments were a massive exercise in futility. I came into the IEP meeting assuming that we were finally going to get Lynn some help and put some modifications and accommodations in place.
Instead . . . well, you were there. We simply restated what had already been established 2 years ago: Lynn is a bright little girl who does not qualify for special education help. I get that. I got that 2 years ago. My question is: what next?
I have spent countless hours and thousands of dollars getting Lynn officially diagnosed. I am paying to have her tutored after school by a Certified Barton tutor. I just need a 504 Plan put into place so we can get some simple free classroom accommodations.
I have been requesting that since the first day of school. It is now March. March !!!
I am more than willing to do my part. I will redouble my efforts to find support outside of school. But how do we get some classroom accommodations?
Compare that to this email from a parent whose child attends a private Christian school.
My son was formally diagnosed with moderate dyslexia in third grade — after a teacher at his private Christian school suggested dyslexia might be the cause of his struggles.
Timmy has hated school with a passion ever since he started Kindergarten. He would wake up every day crying, banging his pillow, and begging not to go to school, saying the work was “just too hard.”
Daily homework assignments went on with hours, and I mean hours, with temper tantrums, constant tears, anger and frustration beyond the roof as I am sure you can imagine.
Before school, Timmy’s personality had always been quiet, content and a deep thinker. You can imagine my horror to see his wonderful demeanor turn into such anger and frustration as each school season progressed.
He had all the early signs of dyslexia, but of course, we never knew what we were looking at. He went through school as this very angry, frustrated child, until finally, his third grade teacher recognized a very obvious problem, and led us to what he so desperately needed.
I am so thankful that he goes to a private school. Although legally, they do not have to provide accommodations or intervention, his school feels a moral obligation to provide both.
I am starting to see Timmy’s anger and frustration level drop as his reading and spelling is getting better, thanks to his Barton tutoring.
Homework time has become a million times better, thanks to the accommodations he is entitled to when needed.
His creativity is also flourishing. I am blown away by what he understands or creates out of his own observations.
He also has an amazing maturity well beyond his years, and his incredible insight to see and understand things is jaw dropping.
Parents, if your child’s public school refuses to provide accommodations, consider moving your child to a more flexible private school.
Unique Gifts of Dyslexics
The gifted areas that come with dyslexia show up very early in life — as this mother shares:
I have read Dr. Sally Shaywitz’s book and have reviewed your website and many of your videos. This has caused me to have a Eureka! moment regarding my son. I have known that something was wrong with my very bright child for quite a while, but couldn’t seem to figure out what it was or what to do about it.
In addition to having most of the classic weak areas, he has so many of the gifted areas — even though he is only 9 and in third grade.
He is incredibly mechanically inclined. He builds complicated lego robots that he programs himself.
He is extremely creative. I have crazy inventions all over my house.
He is artistic. He especially loves sculpture, but he is also good at painting and photography. In fact, he has gone on to the state level in the local PTA Reflections photography contest 2 years in a row.
He is musically inclined. He plays the piano — by ear.
Additionally, he has always been extremely sympathetic and compassionate with others — to the point where several friends and relatives have mentioned it to me.
He has a strong entrepreneurial spirit. He started a mulch spreading business at the age of 7, complete with marketing materials. He actually convinced a perfect stranger, a nice cashier at our local grocery store, to hire him (I went with him to the job for safety reasons of course). He has excellent sales skills. He has now extended his business (and customer base) to total yard care. This year, he made a company t-shirt and hat, as well as fliers and business cards, and a wooden sign for the front yard. The only thing my husband and I have done is given him encouragement and corrected his spelling!
Once he gets an idea in his head, it is like a dog on a bone — there is no distracting him from one of his projects (like figuring out which trees in our yard were maples last summer so that he could tap them and make maple syrup this spring. This project is, thankfully, complete). He works out all the steps to complete his project himself (including getting help from the librarian to find a book on the subject in the adult section) and he won’t stop pestering us if he needs help to reach his next goal (such as someone to use the power drill on the tree. He hammered the tap in himself).
I just wish he would be so focused on cleaning his room, which at times (if I don’t keep on top of him constantly) reaches fire hazard level.