I know LETTERS© can help. I am confident in the talents and skills gifted to me as an educator. The lessons I have been developing are working; LETTERS students are evidence of that.
I also know when a team of us join together we can make the impossible, possible. We can turn education upside-down. We can nurture students to become resourceful and successful.
We can help those who long to read with fluency. Those struggling readers who have only dreamed of being able to effortlessly surf through a sea of pages, to reach the end of a story like a sailor who reaches shore after being lost in the waves.
I dream of a day when there are not a thousand blog posts commented on by dozens of parents all suffering for their dyslexic, struggling children. The numbers are too many. The emotional cost is too high for everyone involved.
When reading these blogs, a surge of memories returns as I recall the heavy burden I first felt when Matthew and Stephanie were assessed with severe learning disabilities. At the ages of twelve (12) and ten (10), both were already lost in a sea of frustration, poor self-esteem, and the dreaded realization that they were different from their peers.
My heart ached and my eyes overflowed when I looked into their faces and heard their anguish. “Why was I created like this?” “Why can’t I be like my friends who can read?”
Every day blog posts and articles are written addressing the exact same feelings from parents and children. Those who are living in these circumstances understand the isolation and feeling of abandonment that consume our thoughts and make breathing difficult under the heaviness of the load.
We as community could pool our strengths and talents to throw these dear ones a life-line before the strain of their illiteracy takes them to the depths of despair.
Every day a struggling child is on the verge of slipping beneath the waves to be lost in the system that is seemingly not equipped to help them.
Too frequently I read the story of parents out of desperation pulling their child from school; who are now faced with the overwhelming assignment of leading their own child through lessons and life skills. The parents who now face the burden of finding and paying for a qualified tutor, finding quality curriculum and resources that address their child’s individual needs, and renegotiating time and talent to provide what the system cannot.
I heard about the teacher in their class of twenty-eight (28) has fifteen (15) struggling readers in their charge. That same teacher is suddenly held accountable to find seven-and-a-half (7.5) extra hours per week in an already full schedule so each struggling student receives thirty (30) minutes of individual reading assistance per week.
It is mind-boggling. The burden being placed on parents and educators is criminal. But it happens. Each and every day. The system isn’t capable of sustaining all of its students and the parents refuse to sit on the shore and watch their child drown. So we as parents and educators lay aside concern and feelings of inadequacy to muster courage to navigate the unchartered waters. We’re called to be the captain of individuals desperately seeking guidance—the children who risk being lost to the sea of illiteracy when intervention doesn’t surface.
How do we make changes to this broken system? How do we support parents and educators so they are better able to teach the ones they have been assigned? How do we team up to support and advocate for those children who are ready to give up learning as young as age seven (7)?
We should begin with proactive measures by giving early assessments to all children whether or not learning challenges have surfaced. Curriculum and resources should be implemented in preschools and kindergarten which would establish foundational concepts to be linked together like a chain as skills develop.
Struggling students should be supported and encouraged so the waters of anxiety and ridicule are calmed. The students’ desire to learn would be restored through the use of educational materials suited to their individual learning styles.
Educators and parents would be trained to understand their role in manning the life boat and be ready to assist in case rough waters are encountered. Before long, each student would be confident enough to become captain of their own education and well prepared to take initiatives toward career and successful adult life.
Together we can provide the lifeline that guides struggling learners and their families into calmer waters. We can provide them with the tools and techniques to navigate lessons and gain independence so they in turn can assist others to shore. Then developing curriculum would be filled with joy! It would be so delightful to let the students lead and tell us what they’d like to learn. The students would no longer succumb to the storm but would instead navigate the waters of discovery. The culture of education would be innovative and successful prosperous.
We can rescue these struggling learners—but something has to be done now. Will you join with me before the system entirely capsizes leaving broken lives and a broken society in its wake?
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