Mrs. K. Tutoring was inspired by a young boy who entered my class, eager to embrace all of the learning that first grade had to offer him; however, he struggled with reading and spelling. Along with difficulty in language processing, he had trouble memorizing basic math facts, tying his shoes, telling time on a round clock, and distinguishing his right from his left. Copying poems took a long time, and he had difficulty giving prompt responses when called upon in class. When this boy was in third grade, he was diagnosed with dyslexia after he had fallen behind in his reading, writing, and spelling skills and after his self-esteem had suffered.
Despite my experience as an elementary school teacher, I did not understand dyslexia until later when I attended Susan Barton’s graduate-level course, “Tutoring People with Dyslexia.” As I listened to the definition of dyslexia and the warning signs for it, I realized that I had three to four students in each of my classes who had displayed warning signs of dyslexia. It all began to make sense. The names of my struggling students came to mind. They could remember words for a spelling test but would spell that same word incorrectly on the next day’s writing assignment. When reading aloud, they would read a word correctly on one page but be unable to decode the same word on the next page. I finally understood the reason they did not make enough progress in their reading to be on the same level as their peers — even after hours of working with them using the classroom curriculum. Like many teachers, I had not understood dyslexia and its warning signs, nor had I the training to provide the appropriate remediation.
Now, I am thrilled to be able to help students who have been diagnosed with dyslexia or who are at high risk for this language-processing difference that affects twenty percent of our population. Unfortunately, many of these students are falling through the cracks without the appropriate resources, which can help them learn according to their differences. They wonder why they struggle so much. Proper remediation for reading and spelling helps students to succeed academically so that they can express the giftedness that is a part of their dyslexia, and influence the world through their creativity and unique abilities.
If I had only known then what I know now, that precious first-grader would have been spared so much frustration. For those like him, Mrs. K. Tutoring exists to build confidence in struggling students, teaching them with an understanding of the weaknesses and an appreciation of the strengths inherent in dyslexia.
By Jolene Klabunde,
Barton Tutor, Certified at the Masters Level