Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Reading Woes Revisited

"I don't want to go to school today!" Lucas exclaimed as his fist left an impression in the four inches of memory foam adorning the mattress on my bed. I had already been up for a little while. I had showered and then climbed back into bed to snuggle quietly with Ruanita for the ten minutes I had left before having to jump up, get dressed, and rush out the door. Sometimes the brief 6:00am snuggles are the only time we get to spend together during the week. Lucas had tiptoed into my bedroom moments earlier, sheepishly asking me if today was Saturday. When I told him that no, today was Wednesday, he threw himself across the foot of my bed in dramatic fashion and began his whiny mantra. "I don't want to go to school...I hate school...I don't want to go to school." Ruanita opened one eye and half-heartedly asked him why he did not want to go to school. He responded with a firm proclamation that he unequivocally hated school. Though this was a not a new statement from Lucas, Ruanita and I responded with all of the appropriate questions. Did something happen at school? Is someone being mean to you at school? Is someone bullying you? He answered with a resounding no, no, and no. His friends were nice. He liked his teacher. No one was mistreating him. Upon further discussion, he admitted that he simply did not like doing the work that was expected of him in school. Too bad, kid. Laziness is not justification for an excused absence. If so, I would call in lazy to work. Every. Single. Day.

I have no clue what to do with that boy. I know that he is struggling. I know that reading and writing do not come naturally to him. All joking aside, it is not pure laziness that is causing his issues. He is truly having difficulty. I have been in contact with his teacher quite a bit lately. She sent a note home a few weeks ago indicating that Lucas has been unfocused in school. He is not disruptive. He is kind and well-mannered. But he stares off into space. He doodles. He plays with his pencil. He picks at his fingernails. He is generally off task and unfocused. Since that note, his teacher and I have been in what seems like constant contact. She is trying to give him more one-on-one attention, but that is difficult with twenty-eight children in his class. She did enroll him in a reading lab, which has a ratio of six kids to one teacher, but the reading lab meets only once a week. He is also attending a twice-weekly after school tutoring program for reading and math, though he really needs no help in math. The after-school program is on Mondays and Wednesdays and lasts from 2:00pm until 4:45pm. So it is after 5pm when he gets home from school on those days. 7:30 in the morning until 5:00 in the evening is a long day for an eight-year-old. Especially for an eight-year-old who is as much of a homebody as my Lucas. I am sure his grumblings this morning were in large part due to today being an after school tutoring day for him.

On Monday evening, after talking with Lucas' teacher again Monday afternoon, I emailed the head of the Special Education department at his school. I had discussed my concerns about the possibility of Lucas being dyslexic with his teacher. She supported my desire to have him tested for learning disabilities and encouraged me to send a request in writing to the Special Ed department. Apparently, they are legally required to test a child if a parent requests it in writing. I have yet to hear back from the Special Ed teacher, but I hope to find some answers that way. I know my son is not lazy. Well...he is lazy to a point, as all eight-years-olds are. But sheer laziness does not explain the difficulties he is having with reading and writing, especially considering his success in math. The boy excels in mathematics. I am hoping we can devise a gameplan to help Lucas succeed. I fear that his frustration may eventually overwhelm him and he will give up completely on reading. I am afraid that he will eventually develop a lifelong aversion to reading.

Reading opened up so many worlds to me as a child. Books were my escape. My solitude. My joy. My elation. Through books, I learned that an entire world existed outside of my small town in my tiny little corner of the Earth. I learned that I could do and be anything I wanted. I could go anywhere I chose. The thought of Lucas being denied the joy of books is incredibly troubling to me. I realize that he may never be the voracious reader I was. I may be expecting him to be something that he simply can't be. I know I need to accept that. However, I simply cannot accept him falling behind or missing out on everything education can bring to his life because he doesn't like to read. I have to find a way to help him. I have to find a way to make this better for my son. The only problem is, I have no clue what I am doing. This is completely uncharted territory for me.

Couldn't he have just stayed three-years-old forever?


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