When my son, Gabriel, was diagnosed at 3 years old with a speech and language disorder, I knew he was going to have considerable challenges ahead in school, especially in the subject of Language Arts. Learning how to read was not high on my expectations for Gabriel, but The Lord continued to surprise me as I saw my son take baby steps towards what I thought was a great hurdle. When he was in Kindergarten, we found a great online program that helped him with his letter sounds and soon he was able to read simple two- or three-word sentences. But the program became more challenging when he entered the 1st grade, pushing him to read more fluidly and at a faster pace. I watched him get increasingly frustrated as he tried reading sentences while a cartoon timer on the bottom of the computer screen would tick away. This was too much for him, and we eventually had to stop.
He still liked books, and trips to the library were highly anticipated. But, all that captured his attention were the illustrations, and he had no interest in reading. Even when I selected books that were at his reading level, I could tell that his anxiety level increased when I would casually ask him to read a few sentences out loud for me.
In preparation for school, I had requested some books from the library, but quite by accident on my part, I had asked for books that came with a read-along CD. Gabriel noticed the CD, and asked if we could watch the movie. “No, that’s not a movie. It’s just a CD to listen to.” He was interested, and I played it, thinking he would tune out in less than a minute. To my surprise, not only did he listen to the entire CD and followed along in the book, he kept asking for it almost everyday. I couldn’t tell if he was really reading along or if he was just simply listening for the ding on the CD that alerted him to turn the page. Nonetheless, I was pleased about his newfound interest.
One would think that with this recent development, I would be a happy, homeschooling mom, but unfortunately, I reached a low point a couple of days ago. Due to certain circumstances, I became discouraged and felt like a failure in what I’m doing with Gabriel and my other three children. I think Gabriel noticed my sad countenance because he sat down next to me with his book and said, “Mommy, I will read to you.” Thinking he was just going to make up words to the story or speak in gibberish (as he’s done in the past), I didn’t respond. But as he began to tell the story, I realized he really was reading! And what’s more precious is that he wasn’t doing it to fulfill a school requirement … he was reading to cheer me up! And cheer me up, he certainly did!
(Photo credit 1: zetson)
(Photo credit 2: Elizabeth Thomsen)