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My 7 year old has been in school for over half his lifetime. Never did I imagine the kind of heartache this would cause for us. After all, we read together daily, talked and shared our experiences, enjoyed outings to the zoo and the beach and the aquarium.

Being my first child, he went to activities such as Gymboree and Keiki Sports, all meticulously recorded for posterity. With typical parent over-confidence, I was positive that I had given him everything needed to insure that school would be the right mixture of challenge and creativity guaranteed to stimulate mind, body, and spirit.

Then reality struck.

Nightly homework, long commutes, and early mornings combined with a difficulty decoding text, “poor” penmanship, and letter reversals added up to near disaster. As an educator, I began researching strategies and systematically applying them, but as a parent, I despaired. Not because I needed a child that would be “perfect,” but because I hated to see what was happening to him. Someone who rattles off scientific facts (especially those pertaining to dinosaurs!), sings songs word for word after hearing them once, and spends enormous amounts of time building and rebuilding Legos and Bionicles without instructions, puts on a brave face every morning and counts the days until the weekend.

By no means do I blame his teachers or even the school he attends. But, I do wish that our school system would allow for the kind of learner I know my child is. Somehow, I don’t think that the completion of a worksheet will ever bring that same glow and satisfaction that the Lego city which spans our living room floor does. Not a day goes by that I don’t worry and hope and pray that something will click, and my son will be able to approach school learning with the same enthusiasm that he does his own pursuits. So when I read Who/What is Smart? on a blog that I follow, I saw my son and his struggles reflected in that post. It was a call to recognize different kinds of learners, and I’d like to add my voice, and my son’s, to that call.

Just the other morning, as he worked through his first chapter book, he told me, “You know, Mom, I kind of like it when there aren’t any pictures, that way, I don’t have to think like the author thinks.”

Out of the mouths of babes. Lessons for us all.

August 2017
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