I can still remember the day the testing results came back. I was looking at all of the scores, trying to interpret what I saw from an educator point of view while knowing that this was my child. Normal, normal, lower than average and then the diagnosis of…dyslexia. It was like a punch in the stomach, and yet a strange relief. I felt like crying, and then a huge weight was lifted all at the same time.
It is so hard when you have always known. You recognize something, but people tell you that you are seeing things. There are other delays, most notably with reading and retention as well as with writing and comprehension. Comprehending the sounds of words has never been easy. While my youngest daughter was a late talker, her older siblings were quick to mimic sounds and words as babies and toddlers. We aren’t supposed to compare our children, but we do. For each milestone our children reach, we rejoice. And when some of those milestones don’t come? You question.
I am an educator. Before I became a mother, I was teaching and caring for children. The programs I worked in were often preparing children for school and what would come ahead. It wasn’t abnormal to have a child walk out of the classroom I worked in ready to enter kindergarten. Yet, when it came to teaching my youngest child, nothing really stuck. I thought it was me, so I put her in preschool. It still didn’t click, so I put her into Kindergarten. The first day she came home she had two complaints. “I can’t read and naptime wasn’t long enough. I don’t need to go back.” We finished that year and then I began to homeschool. Progress was slow, but there was progress. I knew for sure that what was happening wasn’t quite right.
Why did I need the diagnosis?
I guess I didn’t, but I needed to know it wasn’t all my fault. It wasn’t that I wasn’t trying, but I wasn’t teaching her in the way that was right for her. I had strategies, but they weren’t working for my child, despite the successes I had with children.
Enter Dyslexia Outside the Box
Reading Dyslexia Outside the Box by Ellen Nash was so helpful as it opened up possibilities of what could work with my child. More importantly, it gave me the flip side of dyslexia. While so much of what I had found on my own was negative and highlighted the problems children may face, this book helped me to see the strengths that these students have. The most important game-changer with this book was rethinking our struggles. This book also has a wonderful appendix that has so many resources. All of the information I needed was put into one space. Not only has it resourced me to teach my child, but it has also helped me to understand her struggles, abilities and the way she thinks.
This book has helped me to be a better teacher for my daughter and a more effective parent as well.
Beth Ellen Nash has put wisdom and experience into this book. Reading it was like sitting down with someone who could gently remind me of different ways to look at what challenges we have and remember that a diagnosis is simply a starting place. I can’t recommend this book highly enough for all parents and teachers working with dyslexic children.
(For more help with your dyslexic child, visit True North Homeschool Academy’s struggling learner page.)
Rebecca Lundgren lives in South Dakota with her husband Jeremy, three daughters, and their zoo of adopted animals. While her family never intended to homeschool, she has learned a lot along the way. Her background includes a B.S. degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from South Dakota State University. Before she began her homeschool journey, she taught in Public Schools k-12, English as a Second Language (ESL) k-6, and directed an Early Childhood program. Since she began homeschooling, she has been involved with working in and then directing homeschooling groups in her area and now teaches ESL online. She loves camping and hiking with her family, reading, crafting, and children’s ministries. Rebecca will be teaching Jr High Science, World Geography and Logic.
(The following is a review of The Eighth Ransom, written by Given Hoffman.)
The Eighth Ransom by Given Hoffman is a story about trust, anger, hope, wits, and ultimately, faith.
Trent Soris is an artist with a chip on his shoulder, and Ashley Rye is what Trent would describe as an annoying religious kid. When kidnapped with six others from across the U.S., they have nothing in common but their enemy. To survive, all eight of them must overcome their differences. By working together, they just might prevent their ransoms from being used in an international plot that captures the attention of even the National Counter terrorism Center. But when lies test their unity and even the truth holds secrets none of them expected, their strengths may not be enough to save them and everyone else at risk. – From the back cover of The Eighth Ransom
Given Hoffman really makes you care about what happens to the characters, and the fear that they all ‘gonna die is very real while reading the book. Given does a great job facing human weaknesses and the reasons behind them, and this flows nicely into the uniqueness of each character. For example, one of the main characters is rude, mad at life, and just plain obnoxious, born of trying to get his Mom’s attention. The character is un-likeable but important to the story. Another character is the calm and stable Ethan, the leader that keeps the other teens motivated. Wise beyond his years, it is only because he too has experienced extremely deep pain in his life that he is able to be as strong as he is.
As Given Hoffman puts it:
The Eighth Ransom was born from the question: what would happen if a bunch of kids from different locations, families, and religions were all thrown together in a high-stress situation? Would they be able to work together? Or would they just end up fighting with each other?
It is an interesting concept as the characters come from wildly different backgrounds; two of the characters are Christians, the other six atheists or agnostic. They range from the extremely poor, to extremely rich, and vary in skills and attitudes that help or hinder their situation.
Would I recommend The Eighth Ransom?
I found the book to be very enjoyable, and the story and characters engaging and believable. The plot was suspenseful and engaging, fast-paced and action-packed. I was happily surprised at how much I enjoyed this action-packed suspense novel. This story is a suspenseful, well written thought experiement that leaves readers wondering how it will all resolve. A perfect novel for teens who enjoy suspense and intrigue.
Be prepared for the ending to be a little cheesy compared to the suspenseful fast pace of the rest of the story. Definitely not a deal breaker technique as It’s hard for a happy ending to do otherwise, especially one that wraps up the story as effectively as this one. I also found the villain a little weird; all the trouble he goes to, and all the treason he commits for the sake of his goal are little disproportionate in my mind. Even with that, it doesn’t affect my taste for the story. Highly recommended, a enjoyable, fun, action packed read.
As an added bonus, Given Hoffman took time out of her busy writing schedule to guest speak to our Writing Club last spring, given students excellent advice on how to develop the tools and skills of writing, as well as how to develop professionally as a published author. Not only is Ms. Hoffman an excellent author, but a passionate and encouraging speaker.
The Eighth Ransom– highly recommended for those who love fast paced adventure, good clean fun and books worth thinking about.
(Are you looking for more great books? Check out our Book Recommendations from Tweens & Teens.)
For more information about the author and her work, go to Given Hoffman, go to givenhoffman.com.
(The following is a guest post from Jamie Buckland, Headmistress of Appalachian Classical Academy)
I present to you a review of Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins. May my reflections point you to the practical wisdom she so graciously shares.
I am not a reader. I said this once in an academic setting and realized how uncomfortable I had made the speaker who scrambled to form a response. I apologized and clarified that it isn’t for lack of ability, it is simply for lack of desire.
So when I, 18 weeks pregnant with my 4th child, was introduced to Cindy Rollins in the flesh, I remembered her as one of those readers, and promptly dismissed the thought that she, in her CiRCE prize-winning glory, would have something to say that would resonate with me.
Then I heard her address the audience of scholars as she received her prize. Aware that I may have resembled a blubbering whale, I thought that I had possibly dismissed her in haste.
I began the book that night, and finished it the next day. Just last week, after having loaned it out to more than half a dozen of my friends, I picked it back up. It’s only possible I was able to go almost three years without a refresher because I was blessed to get to know Cindy personally during this time.
I want to share with you how her wisdom has influenced me.
One afternoon I sent my then 16-year old son to walk 4 miles in 30-degree weather to get to work. I refused to drive him as a punishment for his lack of submission- to what I cannot tell you – time has a way of doing that. About 10 minutes after he began this walk, regretting my anger, I pulled up beside him and told him to get in the van. He refused. I did all I knew to do. I messaged the author of Mere Motherhood and asked her if she would be willing to call me.
Her words were not formed by a hope of possibly solving my particular problem, as so many words seem too often be, but by a compelling desire to point me to the very Hope who has already solved my universal problem. Gentle reminders that my son’s soul was indeed not mine to save steadied my heart, slowed my breath, and sank me into my chair. The voice of a mother who has whispered the same defeat, threatened the same ultimatums, and pleaded for the same resolve was speaking Truth into my physical ear just as her written word had done to my scattered mind a few months before.
My parents certainly questioned my decisions that day. They may have even threatened to call and report me, but my son survived his chilly walk. And our relationship has done more than just survive. I want to give proper thanks to Cindy, for being the vessel that spoke God’s love to me on that frigid January afternoon. Thanks, Cindy.
My confessions were often matched by realizations from Cindy’s book. Below I’ve written out some of my own struggles and how Cindy addresses them in her book (bolded).
I struggle with validation,
“The Real story is that when we seek validation from any source other than Christ we are going to be disappointed.”
I struggle with pride.
“To my relief, Alex was alert and responsive after all those drugs and I would never be an obnoxious mother-in-law bragging that I had ALL my babies naturally.”
I struggle with guilt.
“In fact, one of our sons turned twelve twice. When what we thought was his thirteenth birthday rolled around we had to sadly explain to him that he was going to have to be twelve again since we had miscalculated his last birthday. This was a crushing blow.”
I struggle with knowing my place.
“When I was younger if I talked to young mothers we shared experiences. Now, if I share an experience with a young mother, it seems like I am a know-it-all and young mothers don’t want to hear any advice. I understand that. I was like that too. I was confident. But it would be nice to be able to share my experiences now, mother-to-mother, without feeling like I am interfering. What I am really doing is commiserating.”
I struggle with defining classical education.
“The ‘ages and stages’ model of classical education had left me hopelessly confused.”
I struggle with Charlotte Mason purists.
“Although Charlotte Mason was not a fan of children’s picture books, I am, proving I can think for myself sometimes.”
I struggle with reading. And sin.
“There are three things that cover a multitude of sins: reading, reading aloud, and written narration.”
I struggle with regret.
“We all have faults. Some periods of life bring those faults to the forefront, making it seem that we are only our faults.”
I hope that in the midst of your busy homeschooling life, you take time to read soul-filling books. Mere Motherhood is just such a book. You will be encouraged, exhorted and challenged to stay the good course of intentionally parenting and raising your children.
Are you looking for some amazing resources just for the Classical Homeschooler? Check out our Classical Homeschool group on Facebook!
Jamie Buckland lives in southern WV with her husband and 4 children. Jamie is Executive Director and Headmistress of Appalachian Classical Academy, a tutoring program for homeschoolers. She also works with homeschool group leaders as the Classical Program Consultant. With a heart for the homeschooling mother, she is passionate about connecting this new generation of homeschoolers with veteran mothers who have walked this walk and lived to share. She will graduate her eldest this year, her youngest in 16 years, and a couple in between! You can find Jamie at www.jamiebuckland.net