My youngest son was in preschool for two and half years.
He loved it.
Except when they colored letters, wrote their names, and practiced reading basic sight words.
He used to get in trouble for laughing when he was supposed to be serious, for being rambunctious when he was supposed to be still, and for not completing the kindergarten readiness assignments as asked.
He was four years old. His learning differences were apparent, at least to me and fortunately, one really sweet teacher.
But they were not apparent to the rest of the world. To everyone else, he was unfocused, not trying, not listening and misbehaving.
My oldest son was the complete opposite in a classroom.
The consummate student, he craved learning, was careful to follow the rules and was always quiet when asked.
But he couldn’t finish the math timed tests in the 3 minutes allowed. No matter how hard he tried, no matter how much we practiced, he struggled with the rote memorization required. So he had to stay in every single recess, every single day, until he completed the 100 math facts (he rarely did before recess was over).
He struggled to write with a pencil, and often complained of how much it hurt to hold it.
He broke down every morning, crying, begging me not to take him to school.
He was eight years old when I began to suspect his learning differences. No one else did. He had straight A’s and was in the 99th percentile on every standardized test. How could he have learning differences?
My sons have taught me that learning differences span a wide range of needs and abilities.
They’ve taught me that learning differences effect children in the classroom, and even more so, outside of school.
They’ve taught me about the social implications of not being able to read at ten, or struggling to sign your name on a friend’s cast at twelve.
They’ve taught me how smart a child can be, despite what test results or standard approaches to learning might reveal.
Understanding My Children’s Learning Differences
My children learn in very different ways. But they do learn, and they do so with enthusiasm.
For so long, the emphasis was on them to change, to figure it out, to suck it up, to conform.
But once I began to really understand the differences that were getting in their way? That is when my boys truly began to learn.
Learning differences require a different approach.
It’s that simple, and it’s that complicated.
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