“I hate being taken out of class for reading. Everybody thinks I’m stupid. I can hear them whispering and laughing at me.” Dana was only in grade three, but she felt the full impact of her reading difficulty and it was knocking down her confidence. Despite the fact that she had great success at math, had superior athletic abilities, and received an abundance of reassurance from home, she was suffering from a negative self-image.
Although in a grade 3 class, Dana was barely reading at a grade 1 level. When asked to sound out the word, “mat”, she would give you one sound, “mat”. She recognized part of a word and guessed at the rest. Her sight word vocabulary was limited to a few words: love, to, do, and of. Reading was completely confusing to her and her poor spelling was evidence to her that she was seriously defective.
During her assessment at Mind Over Learning, she told me she was the dumbest kid in class. Tears welled up in her eyes as she added, “They take me out of class every day and try to help me to read, but it’s too hard. They tell me I’m not trying.”
After completing Dana’s assessment, I gave her parents a simplified explanation. I explained that there are many children just like Dana who have a phonological weakness, which means hearing or recognizing sounds. She just has trouble with all the little sounds that fit together to make words; they don’t come to her mind clearly enough and learning phonics doesn’t help in this situation. I told Dana and her parents that we help many other kids who have similar problems with reading, and we can help Dana overcome it as well.
Dana eagerly asked how soon she could begin her first lesson and exclaimed, “I can’t wait to get started!” I could see the relief on her parents’ faces. They seemed to suddenly realize Dana could learn to read – she just had to be taught differently. As they were walking down the stairs, I heard Dana’s mom say, “Wow. We finally found someone who understands Dana’s difficulties.”
A few months later…
Dana’s mom came to me and was ecstatic about Dana’s gradual growth and improvement in her reading. She told me she knew it was a process, and Dana still had a long way to go, but her progress gave all of them hope for the future. Dana was starting to feel better about school and was beginning to develop confidence and a healthier self-esteem. “Since we took Dana out of reading assistance,” her mom continued, “she doesn’t feel like she is identified by her classmates as ‘stupid’. And, I just have to tell you this: The other day, I walked into her bedroom and she was reading a book out loud to her younger cousin. I just cried. I don’t know how to thank you. Mind Over Learning has changed our lives.”