When my son’s P.E. teacher sent home a worksheet of the skeletal system along with a note that there would be a test next week covering the bones, I was baffled. Our son was in 2nd grade. I remember vaguely covering the skeletal system in 10th grade, but I thought to myself, “Wow! This school district is AMAZING!”
With urgency and excitement, we began studying the worksheet and major bones in our body. We watched videos, sang songs and orchestrated a choreographed piece to the Bone Dance, then we Pinned the Label on the Bone and voilá! My little Einstein was ready to ace that bone test!
When the test came and went with no mention from my son, I resolved to follow up with the teacher. I was completely devastated when I learned that he had failed the test! I was even more distraught when I learned he only had to learn 5 of the 29+ bones we taught him from the worksheet.
Our fun-filled evenings (and one weekend) of skeletal learning went up in smoke right before my eyes. We were at a complete loss on what to do. I asked his teachers to re-test him, and I sent the materials we had worked on with him. Although they were impressed when he was able to pin all but 2 of the 29 we studied on the skeleton a week later, I knew that something more was going on.
Honestly, I have no idea why finding out that our son learned differently was heartbreaking. It shouldn’t have been, but I remember feeling frustrated and terrified for his future. I became resentful of homework because it dominated our evenings and weekends.
Listening to the sounds of other kids playing outside after dinner made me feel completely isolated.
What I discovered though, was that we were anything but alone! In 2015, the US Department of Education identified approximately 2.5 million students in the U.S. as having a specific learning disability – such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia. And as many as 6 million students are identified as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
During this season of our son’s learning, we were desperate for help. We researched constantly, we met with doctors, teachers, consultants—anyone who had the time to observe and work with us. We were fortunate to live in a fabulous community with great resources. The Fundamental Learning Center helped us identify and learn amazing techniques to help our son. Families Together, Inc. gave us the tools we needed to navigate the maze of special education and The Teaching Parent Association introduced us to the amazing world of homeschooling.
Eventually, we were introduced to Right Brain Thinking methods. We began to embrace instruction that all children can benefit from, but few teachers are allowed to utilize. We sought innovation and creativity and encouraged our imaginations to help our son. We discovered he learns best through rhythm and beats, and he remembers from color, pictures and stories vividly. We began teaching him with bright and crazy illustrated stories—and then later embedded the numbers, words or sounds back into the stories and pictures.
We welcome comic books and historical music videos. Words, numbers and symbols jump! Colors, pictures and songs stick! I may look ridiculous dancing to the Hannah Montana bone song, but can your kid name every bone in the skeletal system at age 7? Right brain training has deepened our love for learning.
What I have to remember is that our son’s performance in school was not a direct reflection of our parenting. We are trying to raise a good person, not just a good student. I didn’t want our son’s fondest childhood memory of me to be how well I made him do homework, I wanted it to be the sincerity of my belief that he can accomplish anything he sets his mind to.