Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

September 24, 2008


Nick has been back to school for a couple of weeks now. He was sad to see his summer end, but has quickly adjusted to the new routine and is thrilled to be surrounded by all of his good friends.

The first week went very well, lots of excitement and getting to know all the new fifth grade teachers. This is the first year that the kids will be switching classes for almost every subject. Last week we had our mandatory parent meeting to find out what was ahead for the new year.....It is a year of letting go and teaching our children independence.

Every teacher that spoke said that organization was the key....I felt a little relieved because the one area that Nick excels, is organization. That being said, I was still a little concerned about the upcoming year.....

When Nick was in first grade, the teacher suggested that we get Nick some reading help....he was struggling. They had pulled him for small group instruction and then we sent him for a series of tests....

Diagnosis.....A form of Dyslexia.

The school was extremely helpful. They made special arrangements for Nick when it came to taking tests and recommended a tutor for after school.

By the time Nick was in fourth grade, we saw a huge improvement. I was so proud of him.....he knows that studying and school work do not come easy, this kid gives 150% all the time.....he had the best year ever....each quarter that passed his grades improved. We never expect perfection, we just want him to try his hardest...and that he did. It seemed all of his hard work was paying off....this was the year that it had come together.

We continued to have him tutored over the summer....In Nick's case, he needs a lot of repetition and if things are fresh in his mind, it will make going back to school a much easier transition.

I noticed this past week that Nick was getting very frustrated with his homework. We have been trying to help him, but we cannot do the work for him. Last night he was almost in tears....Now, he has been sick....really bad allergies and I know his head is feeling foggy, so I chalked this up to his Allergy Medication.

Today while at work, I got a phone call from Nick's main teacher.....they are concerned about what they see. She said that he is such a hard worker and participates in class....he even puts his hand up to read aloud, which is not typical...he is very embarrassed by the fact that he reads slower than most of the other children.....She noticed when they were reviewing for a test the other day....that he knew every answer. Today, he took the test and got all of the answers wrong.

Over the years, we have found that because of his dyslexia, Nick has learned to compensate....he has become an incredible listener....he knows if he hears something, he will remember the information....If he reads it, he is too busy trying to decode the words, to understand what he is reading. When he is forced to learn solely by reading large amounts of information by himself, he shuts down.....he is too overwhelmed.

I am so thankful that his teacher reached out to me now instead of waiting for parent teacher conferences at the end of the quarter. They are going to continue to have him take tests like every other child, but then they will ask him all the test questions and have him verbally answer so that he has every opportunity to give the correct answer.

As they say....Two steps forward, one step back.....It is not going to be an easy year....I worry about Nick....he is such a compassionate and sensitive boy....I hate to watch him struggle like this. He has already said he wants to give up soccer because it is too hard to do his homework on the nights he has practice.....I think he needs to have an is important....but a kid still needs to be a kid and soccer is his one and only activity. I pray that we are just going through an adjustment period and he will find his groove.....


Jennifer said...

Poor guy! I will keep him in my prayers. Sounds like he just might need an adjustment period. I agree that the soccer is a nice outlet for some "down time". I hope things get better, for all of you. I know it is just as hard on you to see him struggle.

a Tonggu Momma said...

Oh, Lisa!!! I will pray for your little guy. The husband has dyslexia, but he wasn't diagnosed until adulthood. I don't understand that at all, since he didn't learn to read until half-way through fourth grade. But I won't go there... I know how difficult it must be to watch him struggle. And the husband knows how difficult it is TO struggle. Hugs!

Chasing Dreams Photography said...

Lisa you know my Kenny is dyslexic right? He also was chosen to give the commencement speech at Graduation and he is a theater major. Reading is difficult for him but he has learned to compensate over the years. He got daily help through the school from 1st grade-12th grade, which made a HUGE difference. Write me if I can be of any help....Kenny is a great kid and if ever you need him to talk to your son I know he would. Life is hard with dyslexia but Kenny has done very well : )

Jennifer said...

Nick sounds like a hard worker and a determined kid. My best friend is struggling with the same thing with her daughter. She was just diagnosed with dyslexia. She is in 4th grade and also getting very frustrated with homework. It is so hard as a parent to watch your children struggle. It sounds like you and the school are on top of his needs.


Kim said...

He will find his groove...
I am sooo sorry.. I know it is hard for you too mom..
I have two boys that had different issues in school and we figure it out and it wasn't the easiest but it got better.. now they do well..
Hugs to you..

Football and Fried Rice said...

Praying for your little man as he makes adjustments. It is so hard to watch as a mama, and want to "fix" everything...

Denise C said...

OH are such a great really do "get it"! Thank goodness for you...the fact that his Mom is in "his corner" is enough! The fact that the teachers are on his side is icing on the cake! It is wonderful that they are going to do the testing with him know...if they could provide his reading material on audio that would be fantastic! Maybe you could upload it to his Ipod and he could listen to his subject matter instead of read it himself....(for content). HE sounds like such an intelligent young man...I mean, to be a good listener takes lots of discipline.
I will be keeping him in my prayers for a smooth and successful year at school.....he is so very blessed to have such caring and devoted parents and teachers!!!

day by day said...

Oh, that's sad, Lisa. It is so hard to watch our children struggle!! It sounds like he has a great and understanding teacher this year and that is such a blessing! Hopefully she will work with him to find HIS learning style.

Shari said...

You are blessed to have a good teacher. I hope Nick will get in the grove, but it's hard! Hugs to him and you.


Shell in your Pocket said...

It is so difficult to see your child struggle. I would continue to check in with the teacher and be very VISIBLE with her and what she is doing!

I agree soccer is an important outlet for him!

Hang in there!
-Sandy toes
p.s. Last night, I tried to tag you but posting kept rejecting your happened to you and another was crazy!

Jodee said...

It is so hard to see your child struggle with anything and especially trying to learn at school. As a parent, it just breaks your heart.

I am so glad Nick's teacher contacted you right away. I feel so bad for him, however, I know he has a great team of people helping him.

I agree -- he definitely needs soccer right now!

Jboo said...

It is great that his teacher and school are so willing to work with him. What a hard worker he is and to even want to give up soccer for schoolwork! He is one determined boy! And special kudos to you and Pat for encouraging and helping him to do his best. Sending good thoughts and prayers your way for a good school year for Nick.


Briana's Mom said...

Oh poor Nick! Nick sounds like such an amazing kid. I hate that he is struggling. I am definitely saying a prayer for him.

Anonymous said...

Poor Nick. But with you as his mom, I am sure he will be fine. It also sounds like he has some great teachers!

Anonymous said...

it sounds like your son has a really awesome teacher.
my son is the most unorganized person you will ever meet.
I also believe children need activities outside of school.

missy said...


I am very proud of you! Most teachers do not have the pleasure to work with students that participate in class and are eager to learn. Keep trying your best and it will all pay off in the end.

I know you bring your mom loads of happiness!

You are a special young man and I can't wait to see all the wonderful things you will accomplish!

From a first grade teacher, who dreams of having such responsible students : )

Michelle R Photography said...

I am so sorry to hear about the struggles Nick is having in fifth grade. I have heard that this is a really difficult school year anyway. I will pray for Nick. He sounds like such a good kid - one with the will and determination to succeed. It sounds like he has a good teacher, too, to notice and point these things out early so you can work together on finding the solution. And I am with you on the soccer. School is very important, but his entire childhood shouldn't be about studying. I think every kid needs some outlet to release their energy and passion.

Hugs to you,

Our Complete Family said...

Praying right along with you that 'finding the groove' happens soon for Nick and you guys, too. What a huge blessing that his teacher did reach out to you. I love hearing that! Give Nick a hug and high five from his Mommy's blog friend! xo, Les

Kerry said...

He will find his groove. He has a wonderful Mama and it sounds like an observant caring teacher by his side and advocating for him.

He has spirit and is brave to be reading in front of the class. Keep him positive and doing his best. And I would say- yes to soccer. Keep him running and some fun too.

M,R,J1,J2 said...

I know you hate to see him struggle-keep encouraging and praising him (I know you know that already). I think the first quarter is the hardest. The children have to adjust to the new teachers, schedules, homework-realizing that each year more and more is expected. IMO, that's not easy and it takes time.
I hope Nick doesn't give up soccer. It's a great sport! I agree, he still needs to be a kid and is entitled to have some fun!
I'm here for you, if you'd like to talk :-)

3 Peanuts said...

Oh Lisa....I have been there before. One of my boys is not a traditional learner and while he is very smart...he learns differently and compensates too. I know this can be stressful for parents and tough for the kiddos. I will pray this gets easier for you all.


Belinda said...

Hey Lisa,

It looks like you are on top of the situation with Nick he is lucky to have a mom like you!!! Soccer is a good stress reliver too!! Love the picture of him with his surf board too cute!

Buzzings of a Queen Bee! said...

That is so hard for all of you. I am so impressed that the teachers are going to take the time to do the testd verbally. That is exactly what they SHOULD do and Nick deserves that. But I know that it must be a frustrating time for everyone. I will say a prayer for him today!

Kate said...


My heart broke while reading this this morning and I waited until this afternnon to devote time to a comment. First...with the diagnosis...does Nick have an IEP?? He should right? Are accomodations made at all? What jumped out at me was how his teacher mentioned that he could verbally give all the answers, but missed them on the test...can't he take the test orally or have it read to him?? I routinely read tests to the students I work mandated by the just seems like they were not testing subject matter, but the ability to decode...what is more iimportant??? I know he needs the reading part...but in content classes can't they test content??

I am no expert...but from what I have seen in working with roughly the same age group as Nick...the work ethic is more than half the battle!!! I feel so bad for Nick and for you too....keep us posted!!

Kathryn said...

Oh poor Nick, I feel for him, school is so tough and to have an issue to deal with on top of the academic demands, yuck!!!! I watch my son struggle with his attentiveness and comprehension and it's hard to not feel bad for them. You wish you could do the work for them but that's not the answer.
I'm trying to make my son more independent this year and it is rough.
I hope he stays in soccer, kids need a physical outlet like that to burn that energy up.
Bigs hugs to your son and thank god you have such a nice proactive teacher. Teachers can really make or break a school year. Sounds like he has a good one!!!!

Shawnstribe said...

i know that nothing will ease the concerned heart of a mommy, seeing your son struggle is so painful, but i'd like to share with you that my youngest son struggled oh so much, but through family support and extra tuition he got there and will be going to Uni next year.
So hang on in there my girl, He is faithful, and He will give you the desires of your heart
big hugs

4D said...

With the support of his school and love and support of his family, there is nothing he will not be able to do! Keep at it Nick and keep showing how amazing you are!

Keep smilin!

Shelly and Family said...

Oh heart is so going out to Nick at this time...When I was growing up I had some issues as well with school (my situation was a hearing problem) and I got very upset at times because of it (and because of my hearing problem...I had many issues with my speech as well). It took a lot of work on my family's end and my end to make my life at school work for me. I was just so happy to "read" that his teachers are also helping him with his issue (that means everything to the student as you can see my teachers did NOTHING for me). Just let him know he is not alone out there and that he needs to take one day at a time, one subject at a time, one project at a time...and everything will fall into place. Please keep us posted on how is doing...

Anonymous said...


I am so thankful for Nick's teachers ~ what a blessing that was that they picked up on the problem and are able to help!

Personally I know the struggles that Nick is having, all be it not easy, having loving understanding parents and helpful teachers is key.

I pray that God continue to send the right people to help you and your precious son as he continues to take two steps forward and one step back.

I have missed you so my friend! Have a blessed weekend!

kerri said...

This is hard, but good for the teacher and you Mom for knowing there are some issues to work on, that is the first step.
I applaud Nick for wanting to read in class and to work extra hard at home(even giving up his scoccer), with this determination he'll be just fine, as a family unit you guys can conquer anything(Lisa, your my proof that nothing can stand in your way, xo).

Cindi said...

Hi Lisa,
I sit here with a big lump in my throat... thanks so much for being willing to share so much of what your life is all about. I HOPE to catch up this weekend.....
I, too, have concerns about our fifth grader, tho' more in the area of some behavioral issues. Some things had begun to surface before our trip to China, but have come out full throttle since our return home.
We also, have been in contact with teachers, etc. and hope for resolution sooner rather than later, whatever that entails. It is hard to know how to move forward with these things, sometimes.
Keep us updated on your boy - I'm pulling for him to keep playing soccer...

Fliss and Mike Adventures said...

Poor Nick... just wanna give him a huge hug... I am sure he knows that you are all there for him... I am lost for words as I have never been or known of anyone going through this situation... but thinking of you all... take care

Unknown said...

As a teacher, it is so refreshing to read your blog and see what a positive attitude you have toward your son, his disbability, and school (especially the teachers). I teach all boys, 4th grade and out of 14 boys, 6 of them have IEPs for learning disabilities. It sounds like you have a good rapport with the school and the teachers (honestly, I wish I had more time to call parents to let them knwo when their child is struggling, I often have to rely on notes and email). The best thing you can do is do what you are doing and continue to support Nick and his teachers. You may also want to see if the teachers can modify Nick's tests (number of problems/questions) and also his homework assignments.
Will keep you all in our prayers.