It started when he was 2 years old. I would take walks with him almost everyday and everyday I would tell him the grass was green and the sky was blue. The next day we would take a walk and I would ask him what color the sky was and everyday he would not remember. I know two is early but we worked on colors for a long time. So long in fact we joked he might be colored blind.
This was my first inkling that he didn't learn like everyone else. But what did I know - he was my first. Next came his letters. I could show him an A flashcard everyday, five times a day and the next day I would ask him - what is this? He would say an E (or any random letter). I wasn't worried but someone finally recommended The Letter Factory DVD and it was honestly the only time he got his letters and he also learned his sounds this way (so did my 2 year old daughter).
At least he knew his letters but writing was a horrific experience and he hated coloring and doing puzzles. I just thought he was a boy's boy and didn't want to sit for long. When it came to numbers - life got more difficult. Here he was about to start kindergarten with a year or so of preschool behind him and he could not recognize his numbers. I wanted so badly to homeschool him but my husband just thought he really needed to be in school. I agreed because quite honestly - whatever I was doing was clearly not working.
We finally decided on a Christian school and went in for the first meeting. We did not know we had to bring our child to do a test for K5 and so the principal just asked us questions about him and we told him what he knew and he said, "Oh, he'll be just fine."
I should have done more research about what kindergartners should know but I thought kindergarten is where you learned these things - not anymore! When he started kindergarten I remember just thinking - it'll be fine. He will do well with someone else teaching him.
A week later his teacher said to me, "Why is he in my class?" Um, excuse me? She explained to me that their school only took children that had been to a K4 program. She was a first year teacher - to be fair. It took her about 2 weeks to finally figure out he was left handed. Then she showed me a paper that he had done and basically asked me what was wrong with him.
I went home that night and googled what this was and the only thing I could think of was mirror writing. Because literally if you held up his paper to a mirror you could read it. Here is what I found out:
This is what I found with a simple Google search (from Handedness.org). Later I wondered why a teacher who had had 4-5 years of college could not do a Google search and find out about this. Better yet - why don't they teach anything like this to elementary teachers that are suppose to teach writing????Mirror writing is writing left-to-write languages (like English) backwards AND also reversing the letters so that the writing only appears normal when held up to a mirror and the reflection viewed (see Figure 3).
Figure 3. Example of Mirror Writing
Some people are able to write quite easily and naturally this way (for instance, the Italian inventor and artist Leonardo da Vinci famously kept his notebooks in mirror script). If a left-handed child has a tendency to mirror write, the teacher can help him or her overcome this by making sure the child always begins writing on the left side of the page. This can be done by placing a mark on the left side of child's paper showing which side to start writing from. If the mirror-writing persists, the teacher can try other strategies to help the child establish the correct direction and orientation of the letters. For instance, the child can be instructed to slowly and carefully copy text from a correctly written page. If the child has trouble even copying text, the teacher can have the child trace over correctly written words (in either case, remember to mark the starting point on the left side).
To say my son's year in kindergaten was frustrating would be an understatement. What we did not know was what we know now - he does not learn like everyone else learns. But he can learn!
Therefore teaching him to memorize his numbers and write them correctly was torture to him. Making that poor child memorize 100 sight words was so difficult for him and me.
It was so sad to me that school had become so awful. I cried so much that year. My heart ached for him and I had no idea how to help him. I knew one thing though - he would not go back to that school. And I know that school was a private school so they don't have the resources to help everyone. And his teacher was kind to him and loving. She just wasn't equipped or taught how to teach right brain learners. I also knew my child was smart. He just could not memorize the things they wanted him to in the time frame that they wanted it done.
During our second parent teacher conference (I was beginning to dread them so badly), his teacher said he was doing okay. But we would have to reevaluate in February (when they started enrollment for next year). In February she told me he would need to repeat kindergarten. So in two months he went from doing okay to needing to repeat kindergarten. Do you know how devastating it is to sit in a tiny little chair in a kindergarten classroom and be told your child needs to repeat K5? I mean he was one of the younger kids in his class but something inside me knew repeating kindergarten was not the answer.
One thing I had learned about my son was that when he got something - it clicked and it stuck for good. It did take us a long time to get that something to stick but we knew there was hope we just didn't know how to teach him or what would make things click.
As the year came to a close it was such a wonderfully blessed relief. I was so ready to be done with that place. I was so happy to leave and never look back. We did not get any help that year - at all.
We did finally decide that next year we would do a hybrid school - it wasn't complete homeschooling but it was partial homeschooling and I would get to help him more.
The journey was just beginning . . .
Our Journey With Dyslexia Part II
I might have never known
I should probably tell you that I relax now