That’s when I whipped out my notebook.
I wrote down the word “sapling.” I asked the parent to read the word. They obliged and read it out loud. I said, “I asked Nick to read that word – among other words in a text – and he kept saying ‘slapping.’ His brain processes language differently. He looks at a page of words and everything jumbles together. He struggles with sounding out words, isolating sounds, and matching sounds to letters. All of that together makes reading really difficult for him.”
I then carried on and explained to them what exactly a learning disability was. I explained that it cannot be cured or fixed. And I explained to them that it will likely be a lifelong challenge for Nick. But that my job, as his Special Education teacher, is to provide him with strategies to work around it. And their job, as parents, is to help reinforce the strategies at home but also understand that Nick is working as hard as he possibly can. I wanted them to know that it is now, in these moments, that we need to nurture him, support him, and encourage him. We need to teach him that reading will continue to be a struggle, but if he keeps at it, he can achieve success in school and beyond.