Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Right and Left (07/31/14)
TITLE: Vibrant Heart
By Rachel Malcolm
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And energy. Did she ever sit still? Vibrant, that’s what she is—a ball of light bringing joy wherever she goes. Don’t get me wrong, she can be feisty too, but that temper dies away as quickly as it flares up.
Did I know that something was different about her when she put her boots on the wrong feet every day? Even as she became school age, I’d see her running about with the toes of her boots pointed out. Oh, how I love that girl.
I taught Myra to read when she was five. It had been a breeze. I thought Melanie would learn as quickly, but years passed and she still struggled with the same beginner readers. Sometimes I would look at her math work, and I’d feel a pang of anxiety to see all those numbers facing the wrong way.
The term dyslexic niggled in my brain, but I didn’t say it out loud. My brother was dyslexic, and I remembered him telling me that he was stupid. That hurt me. He was fun and witty, he was an amazing people person, and an awesome brother. I didn’t want a label to destroy my little girl’s spirit.
I read that handwriting can help a child with dyslexia get the letters to face in the right direction. It was like magic. Her handwriting was beautiful and a b never, ever turned into a d. But sometimes I would read one of her stories, and my throat would tighten with fear. Would she ever learn how to spell?
“Why is reading, writing, and spelling so hard for me?” I could hear the despair in Melanie’s voice. Even Melanie’s younger brothers had surpassed her in spelling. At the tender age of 12, I felt like she was giving up.
Oh, God, please help me to show her how special she is and how good she is at so many things.
I took both of Melanie’s hands in my own. “Everyone learns differently. You are a hands-on learner. You learn by doing. Myra is a visual learner, so you have different strengths. Reading and writing are easy for Myra, but you draw and paint amazing pictures.”
Melanie scrunched her face in an attempt to stop the tears, but I knew that she was listening.
“You are good at so many things. You are so loving and kind, and that is beautiful in God’s sight. You can learn to read, spell and write well, but it’s going to take a lot of work. Are you willing to work hard at this?”
“Yes,” Melanie finally said with a nod. I felt so proud of her determination and courage.
I prayed for an idea to get her to embrace reading. I loved to read, and I wanted her to have that love too. But it was more than that; if you love to read then you can learn anything. You will never stop discovering. I wanted Melanie to have that.
The next day I came to the children with my idea. They would need to read 100 minutes a week from any book. After six weeks they would earn a book as a reward. Melanie pressed on and read almost every day for those six weeks. She chose Star of Light and devoured it.
We worked equally hard on her spelling. I found that using a computer game designed for spelling worked well for Melanie. I read over all of her school work and would load every spelling mistake into the computer game. She also spent 45 minutes every day working through a separate spelling program. In six weeks Melanie came up an entire grade level in spelling.
While Melanie usually handwrote, she would print out her spelling words as I dictated them to her. “Dream. Sometimes you dream while you sleep.” I watched Melanie write bream. She looked at it for a moment and then erased the b and wrote a d. My eyes closed. “Thank you, God!” I whispered in a prayer of joy and gratitude.
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