Tye’s bright smile and winning ways make him a favorite with everyone he meets. Tye is the fourth of five siblings and had his mom’s homeschool expertise once he was old enough for Kindergarten. Having successfully taught Tye’s three older siblings to read, Tye’s mom felt optimistic as she added him to her busy schedule as a homeschooling mom and a pastor’s wife. That optimism faded as the school year drew to a close with Tye mystified by turning letters on the page into words, and his mom mystified about where she went wrong.
For Tye’s first grade year, the family had an opportunity to enroll their children in a private Christian school near their home. Tye entered school excited because he would be in class with his best buddy from the neighborhood. Tye’s mom was thankful for the opportunity to have Tye in school since she felt she had done something wrong in his homeschooling year. It didn’t take long for the hopes to be dashed, as Tye’s first grade teacher noticed very quickly that he was not able to complete the typical beginning-of-the-year review work that came easily to his classmates.
In consultation with the school’s dyslexia center director, Tye’s parents were presented with the idea that Tye’s struggles showed hallmarks of dyslexia. After more conversations and the opportunity for Tye’s folks to do some research, they took Tye to a local psychometrist for a battery of tests to determine if he showed tendencies toward dyslexia. After the testing results were in, the family, school administrator, and dyslexia center director met again to look at the testing information and develop a plan for Tye.
Tye’s mom recalls that meeting as one of the most difficult of her parenting experience. When the suggestion was made to move Tye from first grade to Kindergarten and to begin intensive, ninety minutes per week Orton-Gillingham tutoring, it was difficult for his parents to agree. Tye’s mom remembers feeling this was a sentence on Tye, and that his life would always be hard from that moment on. As difficult as the decision was, Tye’s folks agreed, and the new plan was implemented immediately.
Because no tutors were available for Tye when his class was not in instructional time, the school’s dyslexia center director took off her director hat and donned a tutoring hat three times a week so Tye would have the Orton-Gillingham approach tutoring that would work in tandem with his classroom teacher’s strong skill at teaching beginning reading. With a strong team at school and a dedicated mom working with him at home, Tye’s understanding of reading and spelling improved rapidly. By Christmas break, it was clear to everyone that the heart wrenching decision to move Tye back a grade and start intensive tutoring was the key to his success. Early in the second semester, Tye’s teacher reported he was now the best reader in her classroom. Handwriting issues were resolved, and Tye now wrote legibly.
For a couple of years, Tye would answer queries about what grade he was in with a disclaimer that started with, “Well, I’m supposed to be in …” He would observe that he was always the oldest in his class. The self-consciousness about his grade level has now fallen away. Tye sees that he needed to step back and needed the tutoring to set him up for success in the rest of his school career. Open conversations about dyslexia at home helped Tye see that dyslexia was not “something wrong with him.” It merely meant he learned in a different way.
In a picture of how different the outcome might have been for Tye, his mom reports that the child of a family member also struggled with reading in grade one, but no one in that child’s school talked to the parents about dyslexia, and no interventions were offered. Although Tye’s mom attempted to talk with the family member about dyslexia and share with her the change in Tye, it was not welcomed. While the family member’s child still struggles with school, Tye’s mom reports he reads better than his older brother.
Tye is now the boy who always has his nose in a book.