From Trunchpole to Miss Honey in 8 weeks
Written by Leanne, Founder of Bakeeze Instagram - @bakeezeuk
What it’s like living with, home schooling and loving a Dyslexic.
I suddenly have a complete and utter understanding and absolute empathy with the “naughty”kids that were in my classes at school! Like everyone else at the time I thought they were attention seeking nuisances . When in fact, now I wholeheartedly believe they were most probably trapped and frustrated having been unable to express themselves for years. Dyslexia wasn’t as commonly diagnosed back then. But having a dyslexic son and the things he describes to me sometimes breaks my heart for these “friends” in my class at school.
I, like every other mumma totally adore and love my son beyond belief, and of course only ever want the best for him.
He was walking and talking much earlier than his peers, a very articulate toddler holding his own with adults his vocabulary was outstanding. And his creativity and imagination was incredible.
But why didn’t he learn to read at the same pace? Why would he do anything to avoid reading ? “Oh don’t worry” they all said “it’s just boys they don’t like reading” so I brushed my feelings away and kept on trying to get him to read!
He is a social butterfly and loves school and learning and being around others and sports, especially sports!
Until we got to year 4, when he was 8, by which time I had slowly but surely metamorphosised into Miss Trunchpole , nagging, shouting standing over him making him do homework, phonics reading, handwriting practice, it was almost like we hated each other, it was toxic and heartbreaking.
One evening I shall never forget, during the standard practice of me standing over him trying to make him read .. a stoney silence fell across the room and something calming entered my head “ What do you see when you look at the page?“ I asked him “ the words are all moving over the page” he replied with a look on his face that pierced my heart. “ he completely broke down “ it’s been like this since I started school and I have kept it a secret because I thought something was wrong with me” I just scooped him up and held him as tight as I could and sobbed my heart out.
Then the feelings guilt hit me, all these years he has been struggling and scared and I didn’t know, all this time I have been shouting at him ! What sort of mother have I been .. blah blah blah! We all the negative self talk that doesn’t help anyone.
Anyway, I went into school the next day and told the teachers what had happened , they listened and understood which was comforting.
But too my horror that day my brave boy came home with 20 pages of extra phonics work. Why on earth would they think that getting him to do more of the same stuff that wasn’t working and hadn’t worked for 4 years was a good idea!!
We did all the things on the list, got his eyes tested- nothing wrong with those , we sat with the schools SEN who told me she didn’t think he was dyslexic it was “more of a comprehension issue” but she would put us on the list for an assessment which could take a year -I Damn well knew this wasn’t right and felt very frustrated - how could she get her assessment of him so wrong!!
I have always been one for solving problems so I took to the internet and researched thoroughly to see what I could do to help my boy and came across Easy read - a different way to teach reading and eventually spelling.
Easy read acknowledges phonics doesn’t work for all children. It uses trainertext with visual phonic cues and taps into the brains neurological pathways - in truth I don’t know how it works but my goodness it works !!
A huge weight has been lifted off my sons shoulders and it’s like the world has been unlocked once again for him.
There was a moment one evening when he just picked up a book and started reading aloud to us almost fluently, and it wasn’t a Biff Chip and Kipper, it was a Tom Gates “proper book”! Tears were steaming down my face. I didn’t think I would ever see him do that.
With Easy Read underway we arranged for a private assessment and sure enough in black and white he is Dyslexic. We were armed with our assessment ready to go into school to discuss future plans and low and behold “Lockdown” struck and Home schooling began.
I tried to teach him the things they were asking of us and Trunchpole came out again, routine, structure timetables.
THIS DID NOT WORK and this is when I realised dyslexia is so much more than a reading and writing issue! He learns in completely different way, and the sheer hard work that it takes to get things into his brain and out of his brain is exhausting enough, he doesn’t need me making it harder for him, and this is why he can only hold his attention on such things for about 15 minutes.
So I took a deep breath and got over myself and found my inner Miss Honey!
“He needs to be able to read and do maths that’s it “ I told myself “anything else we can learn as we go in whatever shape that takes!”
Now he learns those things through Apps that engage him and I am ok with that because he is happy. 15 minutes on easyread everyday 10 minutes of elephant learning for maths. His progress in both is outstanding he has increased his maths age by 18 months placing him now at age 9yrs 8 months he is spelling a lot better thanks to Easy read it’s truly wonderful to see.
But there was one thing missing - we discussed what things he likes doing at school and he said he liked English because of the stories but we talked about how it made him sad because “ I am not allowed to make up my own stories like the others in my class because I am in the low group, I have to write what they tell me “ he told me with tears and anger in his eyes. Once again I was heartbroken for him.
I remembered my imaginative, creative little boy and as I saw him before me I realised that spark had been slowly disappearing, it made me think of those naughty teenagers in my class at high school, they must have been trapped inside for so long. That was the moment I realised If I don’t do something about this my son could get locked in to!
So we use Night zoo keeper, yes it’s another online program - who cares, he absolutely loves it ! I decided to type his stories for him but they just flow out and they are brilliant!!
Lockdown has been a revelation for us, a godsend a blessing, I have got to know my boy again I understand how he learns, I understand he sometimes feels a bit “not clever”, or he feels he isn’t the same as other children and I know how to help him feel good about himself and from here on in I seek to teach him to love himself, to instil in him confidence because he truly is amazing, clever and will be outstanding at what whatever he does.
I have also learnt even though he will go back into the school system (most probably in September) I can help him get through it without pressure, I can teach him business and he can use his creativity .. He will be unconventionally unstoppable!
And that’s how I went from Miss Trunchpole to Miss Honey in 8 weeks.
To anyone going through this, know that you are not alone and there are tools to help you.
The best advice I can give is don’t put your little one in a box, let them learn in the way they want to, then watch them flourish.