Today is “Teacher Appreciation Day,” a small part of “Teacher Appreciation Week.” Let me tell you, there’s nothing like “Teacher Appreciation” for making a homeschool mom feel like she’s not a real teacher. Stores and restaurants have specials for teachers when they present their IDs; newspapers, magazines, and TV stations are looking for stories of great teachers. Nobody is looking to recognize and thank someone like me.
But, even though I’m not the model teacher, I thought I’d share my greatest accomplishment as a teacher anyway. Ladybug is dyslexic. I’m not sure that I’ve even mentioned that before. We think that it’s at least in part due to the fact that she had to wear an eye patch for so long. But a year ago, I finally admitted it, and honestly, I knew it even before then. Reading was a major struggle for her, and that was just the tip of the iceberg, as dyslexia also affects things like math proficiency, learning style in general, and even behavior.
After I finally admitted her struggles, I looked into what I could do to help her. I talked to one of the special ed people at Moose’s school, who has children of her own that have struggled with this issue, and she both affirmed my decision to keep homeschooling Ladybug, and gave me some ideas for things we could differently, including some new ideas for curriculum. I was grateful, overwhelmed, and terrified.
We started this school year with a lot of things that were new, to her, and to me…things I hadn’t used or tried with Turkey and Bunny. We struggled through reading assignments…very simple assignments. There were days when we both cried. Ladybug, because she was so frustrated that she couldn’t do it, because she didn’t want to keep trying, and me because I felt so bad as an avid reader myself that she didn’t like reading, and also because I was frustrated with myself as a teacher, and, honestly, a little frustrated with her, even though I knew it wasn’t her fault.
But, we kept trying. We kept working all year, together, on reading. Very short books to start, then longer (but still quite short) stories. Not even Green Eggs and Ham length, but we were reading. There were days when she turned letters, and even whole words, around. But we kept persevering. And eventually, it got better. She started reading with more confidence. She made fewer mistakes when reading out loud. There were days, especially when she was tired or was not feeling well, that she fell back into old habits. But we kept on keeping on.
I realized, just in the last few weeks, that she is reading for pleasure. Because she wants to. And not just longer books. Chapter books. On her own. Yes, she’s still reading them out loud to herself (who cares?), and sometimes she still needs help, but she’s doing it! She’s reading!
I did that.
I encouraged her and challenged her, and kept up with her, even when I’m pretty sure others, even the school system, would have given up. I stuck with it, and now she’s a reader.
I know that this is something that she’ll continue to struggle with on some level, maybe for her whole life. But we have overcome the greatest hurdle together, and she is now a reader. And, yes, I’m bragging, but her reading is in part due to my influence (and, lest you think I’m not giving her the credit she deserves, also in large part due to her determination, and, yes, stubbornness).
So, the world may not view me as a real teacher. But I know the truth. And I dare anyone to spend a day in my shoes, and say that what I’m doing doesn’t count!