I Like Being in 4th Grade (or 4th Grade & Dyslexia)

I’m in fourth grade this year.

Not literally.
But kind of.

It all started when we were back in second grade.
Or actually long before that…

I remember the exact date when we knew…
That for the first time we were going to be parents.
And God knew
Long before that–

Who our first born would be.

Our oldest.
A child so social–
So quick to love,
So quick to notice a hurting heart.

I remember her walking up to other toddlers at the park, offering an outstretched hand–
Quickly finding a friend.
She was easy to parent, quick to respond–
So quick to notice the intricate, the details, the emotions of others.

But so slow to talk–
And sit up.
And walk.
And tie shoes.
And jump rope.

So diligent,
So hard-working…
Can’t tell you how many times we’ve read:

…she’s probably the hardest worker I’ve ever had in my class.

And it’s true.
I know it is.
I’ll never forget those lists she made in first grade:


Not lists or cards that I created, but ones she made for herself, because she wanted to
Do well.
Work hard.
Make progress.

Or the years between ages 4 and 6,
when she’d sit for an hour or more at a time–
Relearning sounds.
Pronunciation. Articulation.
Sound formation.
ay, ee, igh, oh, oo
say, see, sigh, soe, soo
Then sounds in sentences.
Then sounds in paragraphs.
Finally sounds in
Daily speech.

But it wasn’t until second grade…
That it all made sense–

The tight grip on her pencil, with thumb crossing over index.
How hat rhymed with hot.
The missing -er, -ed, -es that halted reading progress.
Rolodexing words when pressed
to “sound it out”.
The vision complaints with vision-perfect-eyes.
Pledge allegiance stance to remember Right from Left.
Cents that made–
No sense.

So thankful for the day when I came across this list or maybe it was this list
Sitting on my son’s teacher’s desk.
Inviting me to look for signs and symptoms of a child with–


That was back in second grade and it has been a long journey to this place:
Testing and discouraging answers–
Heartache at facing the scores.
Fearing labels and intervention–
Looking for help so specific.
Worrying about costs and school changes–
Then finding one that would work well.
Learning of high intelligence
But the reality of test-taking blocks.
Thankful for excellent coping skills–
Yet realizing how much time we’d lost….
Finding her Language Skills teacher–
And Orton-Gillingham methods–
And now seeing her reading–
So well.

But there are still those days…
When we face a
When we’re trying to count by two’s or five’s–just review.
Rolling along until 126–
And for some reason 128 will not come.
But instead she can only write:
And we must choose to either laugh or cry.
We do both.
But we do it–
Because this child’s heart–
Her struggle–
Her hurt–
Her effort–
Is so closely meshed with mine.

Now we’re in fourth grade.
And I say we’re…
Because that’s really how it is.
We’re learning about the moon right now.
We’re reading through chapter 4.
And I owe her this.
And I want her this.
With her and for her.
Because she smiles and feels the joy of learning.
Because I know God has these plans for her.
Specific plans.
And I know it could be so much harder…
So many other things we could be facing.
Some we have already faced.

So why share the journey?
Someday I’ll let her tell her story.
And she will write it much better than I ever could.
Because truly she has the heart of a writer.
And a reader.

And that’s one reason…
To say I’m thankful–

For this child who has more patience with our toddler than I have.
Even back then…
The doctors at the Children’s Hospital told us she was directly linked to how long Selah lived.
Our baby who aspirated with each swallow–

Because our oldest baby would patiently spend an hour on each bottle…lifting Selah’s head, patting her back at the hint of any coughing-choking…back when we didn’t know.  The patience of a little one who needs such patience.

How thankful I am for this child who completed 200-piece-puzzles when she was only 3–
But was still such a puzzle to us.
Who faithfully writes Obama
When I am faithless to even pray for him.
Who loves to read and will consistently stop to look up words she doesn’t recognize–
When I am too impatient to do more than skim.

She just came to me begging for the end of A Little Princess
This child who shouldn’t even like to read.

And then I also share because God knew I needed her.
The Straight-A-Hoop-Jumper,
Who didn’t understand the heartache of a mama-with-a-loved-baby-struggling.

This mom too focused on externals, measuring sticks–
Needing a heart-shift-transformation.
This mama lacking patience–
Who now clings to God when the voice needs to stay tender, compassionate, calm, hopeful…

She has been one of God’s big grace-gifts–
To save me from the self-sustaining, self-proclaiming one I could be–
So easily would be.
That one who shames me now.

And finally–I share to offer hope.
For any mommy out there reading.
Who has a little one–
On a similar journey.

Courage, dear heart–
Do you hear God’s loving whisper?

He sees–
He loves–
Both of you.
So much.

I feared the knowing.
I guess I feared the answers–
Of finding out what truly might be there.
But–for us at least– the box was not a box, but a bridge…

And it opened understanding and help and healing and hope.
So much hope.

So if you read this and you read your little one in these words…
Take courage.
Take heart.
Get help and be there–
Dig in and be there–
Be there.

And right now…that’s where I am.
And I like being in fourth grade.
With this little girl I love.

What Has Helped Us (Dyslexia Related Resources):
*Our teachers–year after year–have been a huge resource on this journey.  So thankful during the crucial transition years for you–Rosalie & Annie.  I can sense your love for Laura. Your patience and encouragement has been incredible.  I thank God for you on a daily basis.
*My heart for our childI Would Take Her Thorn
*Friends who “get it” and can walk the journey alongside through the joy and the tears
*The International Dyslexia Association
*Information on the Orton-Gillingham approach
*Why homeschool a Dyslexic child?
*Understanding Dysgraphia
*The Oregon Branch of the International Dyslexia Association
*Language Skills Therapy–the Orton-Gillingham-based group (Our instructor is truly a gift from God) that we’ve been working with for two years now.
*Dyslexia and math information–it’s not just about reading
*Homeschooling children with special needs
*37 Symptoms to look for
*Bright Solutions’ signs of Dyslexia.
*Reading Rockets’ common signs of Dyslexia.
*Super Duper Publications–excellent materials!
*Our favorite talking dictionary
*Famous People Who Have Dyslexia
*Touchmath is great and we found most of ours on eBay.
*We love Math-U-See Manipulatives.
*Explode the Code phonics workbooks were helpful to all our children!
*High Noon Chapter Books are good for struggling readers who want to read chapter books.
*What I wish I’d known about phonemic awareness years ago.
*For books that encourage phonemic awareness…scroll down to the bottom of our favorite books list.
*Phonemic Awareness teaching tips.
*Starfall–and online early reading program that is free.
*Signing Time–most universities will accept sign language as a second language–this is what we’re aiming for.

Some of the links in this post may include affiliate links, providing KaraChupp.com a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. Of course, you are not obligated to use these links to make a purchase, but if you do, it helps to support this site and ministry. Thank you!