"Blessed is she, who has believed, that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished." Luke 1:45

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Letters aren't, numbers are and I'm so confused!

As you know, Kevin struggles with reading. He is in 3rd grade and is only reading on a kindergarten level. He does well in all other subjects, he just struggles in "language arts". I have felt this pressing frustration the past two years, knowing that he is so smart and watching him struggle so with learning the basics. I have to admit, I have been feeling pretty hopeless about him ever becoming even an average reader.


a couple weeks ago I was talking to a friend after church. He is one of those friends that is like a conversational dentist. He will just poke and prod around until he hits a nerve and then will dig in and get everything cleared out so that the healing and correcting can start. He just wouldn't leave me alone. We had a wonderful conversation in which he confided that their son had struggled with learning and with that admission, I instantly lost that "I'm the only parent in the world suffering through this" hopelessness. He suggested that we get some books from another couple in our church who, come to find out, had went through the same struggles with their kid as well. The book is called The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias.


Obviously, there are no 10 STEPS TO A BRILLIANT KID miracles in here. But there is some insight that, in the space of a few days, has completely changed the way I see Kevin's struggle.

There is a general "quiz" where she asks a very few questions then takes the broad "learner" and divides them into one of four dominant learning styles. Obviously this is not an in depth testing, but it is enough to make some things really clear to me.

The way I learn, the things I learn, and the ease with which I learn them are completely foreign to Kevin. He is what she describes as "concrete". Things must follow a logical pattern. This is why he does well at math and science. A 2 is always a 2. It doesn't change to a 6 under certain circumstances and it doesn't sit in an equation and not do something. It is what it is. The same thing with science. If you take A and add B you will get C every time. It doesn't change. Now let's look at reading and spelling. I before E except after C, E can be pronounced E or Eh or sometimes it is silent, There and their, and don't even ask me about long and short vowels. I liked language and couldn't figure it out. There is absolutely NOTHING concrete about learning to read. There are exceptions to EVERY rule. How do you know if this is an exception or the rule? How can a word be a noun in one sentence and a possessive pronoun in the next? If you learn in a logical pattern like Kevin, you may never be able to figure this stuff out.

So, now we know what one of his problems is. He need logic to be able to understand something. the question is, how do we figure out how to make all of that stuff logical to him when it really is not?

I have been so frustrated because I learn in a random pattern. Things that are very easy for me to grasp are so foreign to Kevin that it must seem that I have been speaking Chinese to him. I just assumed that he would learn the same way that I did. She uses a great example in the book.

If I say the phrase "Listen to Me" in Russian, but you don't speak Russian, you will not understand. Even if I slow down, speak louder and enunciate very clearly, you will never understand what I am saying simply because you don't speak Russian.


Yep, you guessed it. I have been speaking "Russian" to my good 'ol American kid. He wants to listen and do what I ask (he is such a great kid, he really does like to make his dad and I happy), but he just doesn't UNDERSTAND! I am sure that this is the major sticking point in his classroom setting as well. Teachers teach in one set style, their own, and the kids that learn that way excel, and the ones that don't struggle to understand. It isn't anyone's fault, it is what it is.

So, now, the mission becomes trying to find a translator. I have not finished this book. She has written another one besides this one as well. Will I find some kind of magic answer? Most likely not, but I have already learned some great ways to encourage his learning style, and to really build upon what he already knows and does.

I am setting up an appointment to meet with his teacher, and another appointment to meet with his resource teacher. I am interested to see what they have to say regarding this and if they have any ideas. My kid my not ever be an accelerated reader, but he is really smart and I know that he has all the ability in the world, we just have to figure out how to best teach to his learning style.

Prayers are very, very welcome!

1 comment:

April said...

I am so excited to read this. I am sure it will help.