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“Can you skim through this and then answer the following questions?….”

I certainly couldn’t. I would have to decode it bit by bit.

If set this task, I would feel overwhelmed and a time pressure would add to it. I think this gives us a little insight into how dyslexic children often feel. Why then do we expect students with significant dyslexia to sit exams? Their start position is way behind the start line.

Two of our four children problem solve their way around dyslexia daily. As a mum, it’s been a journey for me, and I’m constantly learning. I see their struggles, their extreme frustration and the way it knocks their confidence, even though neither have ever been at school. I see that it doesn’t just affect their ability to decode words, but the way they think. Their logic isn’t necessarily everyone else’s and I see their pain when they are misunderstood.

But, I also see the awesome young people they are, overflowing with gifts and abilities and bursting with potential. They both love stories and are good with words.

I don’t want to put them in a box; to try to squeeze them into a system which is way to narrow for their glorious and exuberant personalities.

When I began home educating, I had done remarkably little research and was completely unaware of the many curriculums which were available. I’m so thankful for this! So, with our two boys, then aged four and two, we began a glorious adventure of fun and learning, building on their strengths, on our relationships and making lots of memories. We read lots, we spent hours outside, we had weekly outings and did numerous projects around it all. There was no mould into which they had to fit. They were free to develop into the young men whom God had created them to be, in all their uniqueness.

I noticed our dyslexic son shone whenever we visited museums, places of interest or even shops. He was always front of the queue when it came to asking questions. He was curious about everything and confident enough to ask. We did all our reading aloud and learning together and then when it came to putting the findings of our projects on paper, he and his brother simply did it in different ways.

The dilemma came when he hit exam age. Rightly or wrongly we did attempt a couple of IGCSE’s with him, before he then entered, very successfully, the much broader college system. At the time of writing this he has just received results for his level 2 Btech in sports. He was awarded a double distinction star, the top grade! This would be a wonderful achievement for any student, but for one who has the daily hurdle of significant dyslexia, it is quite remarkable.

While his academic achievements are what validates him in our world, I think it is his character, underpinning these, which is even more important. He is kind, empathetic and funny. He has huge perseverance and is very resilient, partly I’m sure due to having to push through so many barriers and having to pick himself up after so many falls. He has a strong faith and a maturity and wisdom for which I am so thankful. More of his story is on my blog, under “home ed ponderings”.

Our daughter is younger and has more of a kaleidoscope of behavioural and emotional needs. She too is made in the image of her loving Creator and I believe her perceived weaknesses can, in time,  become her strengths. Her  journey is different again, and the complexities she carries having lived through trauma prior to adoption, are a continuing puzzle to us. But that’s what they are; something which can’t be sorted with any magic formula or  parenting strategy. Each day I need to lift her before God and pray that his Holy Spirit, the Counsellor, will give me wisdom and reveal the best way ahead. I can’t see the future for her, but I do know the One who holds it and believe in His unswerving faithfulness.

On a practical level, we are very slowly working through the same dyslexia program which I used with her brother, and we do life  together; playing, reading aloud, lots of outdoors time, cooking etc

We used to talk to our son about dyslexia being a gift. It enables him to think in a different way, to  have insight into people and situations which others don’t have.

Each of our children are fearfully and wonderfully made, and home education allows them to develop at their own pace and into their own unique giftings.

On a practical note, reading aloud and listening to audible books is probably one of the best things you can do. It enables them to develop a rich  vocabulary and excellent language skills. It allows me to be relaxed about the age at which our daughter reads, as I think I am giving her what is important.

So, my top home ed tip is to relax into it, enjoy your children, make wonderful memories (time passes so quickly!) and build relationships.

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