Home education – making learning a lot more fair

The little girl in the story in June 2005

Once there was a little girl whose zest for life was unstoppable. She was fascinated with the world around her, loved to explore and loved books and stories – could never have enough of being read to.

When she was four she looked forward to school and more books and more learning activities but the only thing they seemed to do was sitting and writing and her zest turned to hatred.

So her parents decided to home educate.

Once away from school, and the pressure of being forced to read and write before she was ready, her love of books returned. She carted more home from the library than she could carry. She pestered to be read to, not only stories but non-fiction as well. Her appetite for knowledge and learning grew daily. She used the computer. She pieced together the language she needed. Her family kept her love of using books alive.

But although she loved them she still couldn’t seem to read well enough to enjoy it herself. And any pressure to help her overcome this killed the joy. Having experienced it before her parents recognised her dyslexia and tried to keep the pressure off and the pleasure on, during her home school years. She didn’t manage to read a whole book comfortably till she was thirteen but that didn’t matter in a home school environment. She still enjoyed them. She was clearly intelligent, motivated and achieving. At sixteen the local college welcomed her with open arms.

Although confident and competent she realised that compared to the others her reading speed was extremely slow. There were insinuations from others (staff included) that her ability was ‘poor’ – she felt they thought she was a bit dim – or lazy. Dyslexia is an excuse – not a reason isn’t it? Anyone who can’t read fast must be a bit dim, mustn’t they?

Despite this she battled on with her work, eventually passing maths and English exams after many painful re-sits, and with support that was as useful as a paper shopping trolley. In fact it was verging on destructive. But she went on to get good grades overall and got into the Uni of her first choice, determined to continue her love of learning there.

And it was there that she was officially tested for dyslexia and had it confirmed. And had an overwhelming sense of relief that she wasn’t just dim after all. In fact, as I told my lovely daughter, it is doubly incredible that she has achieved what she has. Because for a dyslexic to try and achieve in a system designed for non-dyslexics is the same as competing in a running race against two legged people when you’ve only got one! As the Paralympics illustrate – it isn’t fair.

By home educating we made it a lot more fair! And best of all we kept her love of books and learning alive.

(Look out for more on our story in my new book A FUNNY KIND OF EDUCATION out soon)

Links from the web on Dyslexia – if you haven’t already watched it the programme by Kara Tointon on Youtube is worth a watch:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00vy8c7

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DQFbQWyOdw

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01m9tyc

http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/

http://www.dyslexiaaction.org.uk/

http://www.dyslexia.uk.net/

http://www.dyslexics.org.uk/

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