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Volume 2 • #9 • May 2003


May is Mother’s Day month, and this year the mothers of dyslectic children are being stiffed twice, which makes the greeting of “Happy Mothers’ Day” sound a little sick.

If my e-mail is any indication, there are virtually no school departments in the United States that either know that there is such a thing as dyslexia, or if they do know, don’t know what it is, or if they know what it is, don’t know what to do about it, so they mostly do something ineffective. Sometimes they put the kids in “resource rooms” or in an “inclusion” program which cost a bundle of taxpayers’ money, but don’t do the one thing the kids need, which is to teach them to read.

So the kids languish in misery (or often rage) for years. The mothers of such kids are left with two alternatives: pay through the nose for daily tutoring, assuming they can find a tutor, or do it themselves. The latter is generally unsuccessful because of the emotional baggage they carry from dealing with both a failing child and a snippy school department. The other thing that militates against having a parent do the tutoring is that since dyslexia is inherited, the mothers are often dyslexic themselves, sometimes without even realizing it, and simply can’t do the teaching. You can’t really teach somebody how to do something if you have no idea how to do it yourself.

So the moms are already stiffed once because the educational establishment resists learning anything new and then blames the kids (bad attitude, doesn’t try, acts up) for the teachers’ failures. And the kids go through life with lacerated egos for something they are not responsible for.

But why are the moms stiffed twice in May? Because that is the time that most school departments are developing their budgets, and this year especially, virtually every school system in the country is badly strapped for funds. Sometimes the only things that make school life bearable for a dyslectic student are art, music and drama. Interestingly enough, the same is often true of your extremely bright student who is bored with pedantic teachers and unimaginative courses. (Why don’t I include sports on this list of things that make life bearable? Because there are already millions of people who will whoop it up for football. The arts don’t have as many boosters. Besides, while it is true that sports develop team work, orchestras and plays do, too. But there is a difference: in sports, team work is used to whomp somebody. In the arts, it is used to produce something beautiful.)

Art class, chorus or a play rehearsal can be the one bright spot in the day for the bright child in chronic academic trouble, and for the humiliated kids who are destined to live lives forever permeated with some degree of depression and low self-esteem, arts provide a warmth that nothing else can. High school athletes don’t go on playing football until they are sixty, but an amateur artist or musician can keep right on having fun with his hobby until he gives up the ghost. I call any form of art in the hands of a cheerful amateur cheap psychiatry.

So what is the first thing to be eliminated from tight school budgets in May? Art, music and drama. Go figure.

Teaching Tip:

If you are using the Reading from Scratch program, even with a child whose handwriting looks like what my mother used to call hen-scratching, you will find that writing improves without any extra exercises. But I did have one little wiggler whose ovals were either open at the top or so pointy that you couldn’t tell what they were. I told him that I wanted all these letters to look like jelly beans. If they were so pointy, they would hurt if I bit into them. JELLY BEANS. It worked.

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Archives (2001 files in .doc format):

April 2003 - Vol. 2, #8 May 2002 - Vol. 1, #9
March 2003 - Vol. 2 #7 March 2002 - Vol. 1, #8
January 2003 - Vol. 2, #5 February 2002 - Vol. 1, #7
December 2002 - Vol. 2, #4 January 2002 - Vol. 1, #6
November 2002 - Vol. 2, #3 December 2001 - Vol. 1, #5
October 2002 - Vol. 2, #2 November 2001 - Vol. 1, #4
September 2002 - Vol. 2, #1 October 2001 - Vol. 1, #3
August 2002 - Vol. 1, #11 September 2001 - Vol. 1, #2
July 2002 - Vol. 1, #10 August 2001 - Vol. 1, #1



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