Since our Tiny Dancer was diagnosed with dyslexia 1 year ago, I’ve come to understand that supporting your child’s learning needs is a marathon not a race. There is one thing that every long-distance runner needs – motivation! A child who faces dyslexia needs the same thing. Long tutoring hours, designated study blocks, occupational therapy work – these appointments can become taxing on a little one’s energy. As children, their natural inclination is to be playful and carefree; they don’t understand the necessity of structured learning time the way a parent does. Finding ways to keep your child motivated is key to making early intervention work.
Our daughter is invigorated when we share success stories of dyslexic leaders in our community and the world who have made great contributions despite their early learning challenges. She is also energized with our regular positive reinforcement and rewards systems. One of the most important ways our daughter has stayed motivated is by developing friendships with other students who participate in tutoring sessions and/or an IEP class with her. This is a social reward that I could not have predicted before we began our journey, and it has become extremely gratifying and motivating to our daughter. As a parent, I have made an effort to cultivate these relationships and always remind my daughter that her structured time away from school is also a fun way to spend time with people she loves. She knows that tutoring after school means more work, however, it always means play with friends who do not attend the same school. She looks forward to this special time. Rather than grueling and boring work hours, her additional learning time has become a bonding experience and a series of enjoyable moments that have solidified important friendships in her life. Just the other day, when it was time for me to pick her up, she did not want to leave. I giggle while I write this: I had to bribe her with an ice cream, which she rarely turns down, to get her to leave her tutor lesson.
I’ve watched as our daughter continues to stay motivated, she makes more progress and experiences more and more pride in her academic achievement. This is something she was not feeling and it warms my heart to see her shine. Recently, I had my son with me to pick up our daughter from her tutoring lesson. We went inside and she ran right up to her brother. She grabbed his hand and held it as she walked him around – so proud – showing him the classroom and introducing him to her friends. I listened as she told her friends about her big brother and how great he is at sports. As she was bragging about him, he turned back to look at me with a huge smile on his face. When we finally left the building, our Tiny Dancer danced out to the car and asked when are we coming back. I was so thrilled, to say the least, knowing that the research I have done from the start has led to where our daughter is today – and it has all been worth the effort!
When we arrived home, my son took me aside and shared how proud he is of his little sister and how happy he is to know how far she has come with her reading. He told me he wants to read with her every night and in that moment, I was overcome with gratitude and love. Dyslexia presents a family with great obstacles. It also gives a family great opportunity to feel love and commitment to one another.
Love can be the greatest motivator of all!