you may have a child in your class whose reading is
virtually non-existent, whose spelling is, to put it charitably,
bizarre, and whose handwriting is - well, hard to describe.
This child has been tested and found to have an average, or
an above average intelligence, and his inadequacies in language
arts are well beyond either his control or yours. He is, in
fact, dyslectic, and without some specially designed remediation,
outside of his regular classroom, he is doomed to years of
misery in school, perilously low self-esteem, semi- or total
illiteracy, and chronic employment for which he is intellectually
are lucky, he will have been enrolled in a special program
which has a track record of getting dyslectic children up
to or beyond grade level in reading skill in a year of training.
However, it takes the whole year to do this, and for awhile
the child will still be producing substandard work. During
the period while he is learning to read, write, and spell
properly, he will need a good deal of patience and understanding
from his classroom teacher.
if, when the other kids have 20 spelling words to memorize,
he might be allowed to do 10 (without reducing his grade!).
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD HE EVER BE CALLED ON TO READ
OUT LOUD IN CLASS. Of course, later in the year when he has
improved and asks to be called on, by all means do. If you
can wait until he raises his hand and volunteers, you can
save him from the kind of embarrassment that makes a kid have
a sick stomach every morning before he goes to school.
kids often know a lot of things they have heard their parents
talk about, so if you find an area in which he is knowledgeable,
by all means let him show his stuff.
used by his tutor is designed to by-pass the neurological
anomaly in his brain that is preventing him from learning
to read. It consists of exercises that force him to use the
left hemisphere, which is programmed to handle written language,
and which he is not using. The exercises are somewhat analogous
to push-ups for football players. The game itself can be compared
to reading: we give him the push-ups; when he is "strong"
enough, you can help him learn to play the game.
is the business of homework. If he has papers for "Language
Arts" to do, for quite awhile they will be awful. This
is where tolerance on the part of his teacher is invaluable.
The same thing is true for written tests. If he must read
something for science or social studies homework, it works
well if his mother is expected, and indeed, encouraged, to
read it to him until his own skill picks up. Until then, he
must get his education through his ears.
that most teachers ask is how to mark such a child. Probably
the easiest is for the tutor to give you a quarterly mark
for him in lieu of a reading grade, which reflects his behavior
with her, and the tutor will send home a letter that explains
that these marks during the year reflect the effort he is
putting into his lessons. At the end of the year, you will
get a progress report with the results of post-testing, including
a grade level and a sample of his writing. By that time, you
should be able to give him a regular reading grade as well,
based on his end of the year performance.
van den Honert