(This is an excerpt from my journal almost ten years ago about Jacob, a second grade student with dyslexia. I thought you might enjoy reading about his journey to learning success!)
There was a message on my answering machine from Michelle. I hadn’t heard from her in about a year. Her smooth, alto voice, with all of its passion and vibrancy didn’t surprise me one bit. She needed some advice about Jacob, her adorable eight-year- old son.
Jacob was one of those kids you want to put in your pocket and carry around with you wherever you go. When you think of how you’d want your own son to be, you think of Jacob. It’s hard to believe that a kid can be this pleasant and easy to be around. Of course, I love kids, but Jacob seemed to have a perpetual sticky note on his back that said, “Adore me”.
Jacob was tall and thin. And a bit shy, too. Sometimes you’d look at him and think he’s a little wise man. Other times he’d be busting you up. He wears glasses and looks at you with eyes of dark brown, soulful eyes. This kid grinned with his whole face and talked like the CEO of a corporation. He uses his whole body to talk, gesturing with his hands as he tells stories. And boy, does this kid have a vocabulary! He uses impressive words like phenomenal and gorgeous.
Unfortunately, Jacob had dyslexia. Reading was difficult for him. Writing and math were hard as well. He avoided reading at all costs. In class, he was a master at going to the bathroom or thinking of excuses not to do school work.
You can’t blame poor parenting. His parents were both college graduates. And Michelle had made it her life’s purpose to help her son do well in school. She had purchased programs, hired tutors, sent him to private schools and worked endless hours with him. Yet, Jacob continued to struggle.
The last time I had spoken with Michelle she had enrolled him in an expensive computer course, Fast Forward, that was going to help him overcome his learning differences and challenges. I’m sure it helped, but not enough. Jacob continued to struggle academically.
Michelle made a bold move. She pulled Jacob out of his private school and decided to homeschool him. She wanted to know if I could recommend a reading program for her to use while he was being home schooled.
I returned her call. “I can refer a reading program for you, but until you still the images in his mind, you won’t get too far. I can fix Jacob,” I said.
“I know,” she replied.
We made arrangements for Jacob to become one of my students. I agreed to go to Jacob’s home, something I had never done before.
I began my journey to help Jacob with the same feeling I approach helping any student who has a learning problem – with a sense of excitement combined with exhaustion. I get excited because each student is different and they all teach me something along the way. And exhaustion, because I have been doing this for years, and I know that it isn’t an easy, over night process. There are ups and downs along the way. We both must take baby steps every session until the brain and the senses are working efficiently and the student can learn easily in a classroom setting. Sometimes it happens quickly, within a few months, and other times it can take years. But I am no longer naïve enough to think it can just be done without effort.
This part of my blog is about Jacob, a beautiful child, a wonderful soul. This is about his journey to success, his ups and downs, and the effect his learning disability had on his family.
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