Many parents who learn that their child (or as in my case, children) have a learning difficulty like dyslexia, can become overwhelmed at the implications of the diagnosis. They may remember having difficulty in school but it wasn’t until the 1960s that the term learning disability was first used. Because of the many myths and misunderstandings surrounding learning disabilities and a fear of being stigmatized by family, friends or teachers, parents may not speak up about their child’s problems. The truth is that connecting with other parents of struggling learners can be one of the best sources of information on how and where to get help, not to mention support for the hard days.
For all of the books written on how to help kids who learn differently, I have yet to see something for their parents. Figuring out your child who learns differently can be hard and the learning curve can stretch you in ways you never imagined. The following are ways that I have found the most helpful for living and thriving with a houseful of kids who learn differently.
I have been blessed by the friendships of several women who have similar stories as mine. We have walked together while our kids have both triumphed and failed. Being able to share my experience with others who could relate to and encourage me was one of the best things that could have ever happened. Being open about your child’s learning struggles (without making him or her the poster child for learning disabilities) may allow for some terrific relationships with people that I never would have guessed had the same struggles as my family.
Build a Network
Some schools or homeschool groups have support groups that may arrange speakers or own resources for use by its members. That is one of the reasons why I started blogging – to share my experiences and learn from those of others.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12
All kids are created by God with a divine purpose in mind. His plans for your child, like His plans for you, are unique to his or her strengths and weaknesses. By prayer and careful observation of their strengths, weaknesses and passions, your child’s path will be revealed. Be open to whatever God has planned for your child and stop comparing them to other kids.
Take a Rest
As much as you get informed about your child’s special needs and get help, fellowship etc, there will be days that it all seems to be falling apart. Attitudes can deteriorate (for teachers as well as students) habits can get sloppy and even though you are only half way through the school year, you are 100% exhausted. Sometimes you just need to step back from the must-dos and responsibilities and goals for the future and just enjoy your kids for who they are. No teaching, no pushing, just relaxing and doing something that you all enjoy together.
As I type this, my kids are packing a picnic and preparing for a day outside at our favorite, local park. There is nothing like a change of scenery to refresh everyone’s attitudes.
If you are a parent of a struggling learner, take heart. God not only created your children but He created you to be their parent. If God calls you to it, He will strengthen you to see you through it.