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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

When You Can't Read

Laurie, the education coordinator at Hope Ministries in South Bend, asked me last spring about recommendations for an adult with dyslexia who wanted a tutor.  I volunteered myself.  Laurie had the three of us meet so we could see if we wanted to work together.  We said, "Let's give it a try."

M is not homeless.  She is a very attractive young lady who has a full time job in the RV industry.  She and her boyfriend enjoy spending weekends on their dirt bikes in full regalia.  She loves to cook and she is very helpful to her parents.  

M really could not read.  She tested at an early primary grade level.  I noted that she seemed to stop the test after doing about half the items.  She said that she just knew she couldn't read the longer paragraphs.  She wants badly to learn to read.  She has career goals beyond  factory work.   She wants to be able to read to the children she would like to have some day.

She said that an ex-boyfriend had a two-year-old who wanted her to read to him.  She would tell him that she had to cook or do the dishes or try to distract him by playing something else with him.

We have met once a week for the last several months.  She is always on time and if she has to work late, she lets me know.  It has not been easy for her to work through our lessons.  At one point, I realized she was listening to a phonics lesson online in the car--but not following visually.  That doesn't help much!

We have worked through Megawords, a book published by EPS, which uses six types of syllables in multisyllable words.   We started with closed syllables, went on to silent e syllables,  open syllables, and r-controlled syllables.  We are now working on vowel digraphs.  She is learning to break down words into syllables.  The English language doesn't always cooperate.  Yesterday she analyzed "re-cog-ni-tion" breaking it down as taught without success.   And there are so many other tricky words that don't follow rules such as "built",  " unique" , and "opinion"--all words that she missed yesterday.

However, yesterday was a day for celebration!  I brought along "The Very Hungry Caterpillar' and "Curious George" and she read them well enough to entertain any toddler.  She chose an article to read in a dirt bike magazine highlighting celebrities in the field--many of whom she knew.  We used "authentic" materials!

 And yesterday she retested on the TABE (Test of Adult Basic Education)-a requirement of the literacy program.  I did insist that she finish the test no matter how frustrating it was--and to guess if needed--usually good test-taking skills.  She read the test aloud and I didn't object.  Her score was improved by three grade levels!  We were both very pleased and so was Laurie at Hope Ministries.

I texted her this morning that we have lots more work to do and she said she can't wait until Thursday, our next lesson.  She has another dirt bike magazine for us to read.  Success will mean more success for her as she gains confidence in her reading ability.  She says she is reading signs and billboards more and is relying on her iphone's audio abilities less.

I feel priviliged and thankful that I can work with M.

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