With the sun shining through the dusty windows of my elementary school, the end of the school year always felt glorious. As the years marched on and I have seen many last days of school and I have always felt a sense of peace and happiness to start the summer.
As I have written in previous columns, we have been preparing for Crawford’s summer. The final event before it officially began was the academic awards at his school.
As I would never miss a school event, I sat there among a sea of parents. All were there to support their children as well as the school. I socialized with the parents around me until Mr. Aycock started the program. I knew that with all of Crawford’s challenges he would likely not receive an academic award. However, my heart held out hope because I didn’t want my child to become frustrated from not getting an award and stop trying to learn.
I had prepared him for the likelihood he would not get an award and he really seemed fine with it. I think it was probably me that was more upset with it.
However, he did receive an award that day. He won 5th place for the year in his collection of Box Tops. He got a big green ribbon and a certificate. He was happy as a pig in slop.
After the event was over and I was on my way back to work, I started thinking. Thinking about how important it is to read. Reading was and is something I take for granted. We all do. It is something I just did. It just happened, like your fingernails growing. I don’t even remember learning to read. Was it a process or did I have an ah-ha moment? It was a naturally easy thing for me, I guess. But with Crawford, reading is a mountain, a mountain that he has had trouble climbing. First little problems with some slow learning in 3- and 4-year kindergarten. He conquered that little hurdle but the hurdles have become increasingly more difficult and his grades began to slip this year.
I have never seen a little boy try so hard. He wants to climb that mountain. I told him all he needed to do was his best. He has his typical little boy silliness but for the most part he tries his hardest to get up the mountain for me and for his teachers at school.
Now that he has a therapist to help him with his dyslexia, he even tries harder. His reading has improved but he still isn’t at the level the other kids in his grade are. The dyslexia has a profound effect on his reading but more important is that the reading affects other subjects. So now he is stalled on the mountain.
The last nine weeks of his first grade year his reading issue lowered his spelling and grammar. He has trouble reading the directions or questions o a worksheet or test. In the end his favorite subject started to suffer as well. His math grade declined some as well. He had to read to do graphs and time. He had to read to do a reading problem. He worked and worked but he still was not up the mountain. His classmates were much further up.
The great thing is that this has not discouraged him. That makes me feel a whole lot better. Attitude is part of the battle. In fact his short-term goal at school was to get past his Accelerated Reading goal. Which he did ... slowly ... right before ... and I mean right before the deadline. He inched a little more up the mountain.
His long-term goal is to be a good reader. I want that for him so badly. If I could buy it off eBay for him I would but he has to do it for himself. I have given him the resources and help he needs to do just that.
So over the summer in between the pool and fun activities we will be working — reading and working to keep his mind moving forward, still trying to climb that mountain. At some point in school, he will be caught up and can soar to the top of the mountain like the rest of his classmates. I feel like he is so smart and knows the way up that mountain. Together with me, his school, teachers, dyslexic therapist and God he will eventually conquer that mountain all by himself.