It is a chilly Saturday morning. Lyndon is downstairs watching cartoons with the boys. We are going to the Mitchell’s for supper tonight, to remember and rehash the Mexico experience. Colton has had a tough week. He has been dragging around the house since the flu bug got him earlier. I think we all have a case of the January blahs.

Colton is my middle son. He is such an interesting young man, turning eleven next month. He has always been a friendly, easy-going, funny boy. Even as a baby, he was happy and content, with a chuckle that made everyone laugh with him. It has been difficult, as his mom, to watch him struggle academically.

Colton has always loved learning, especially about animals (specifically) or nature (generally). He would pore over the pages of our nature books, repeating the words I had read to him many times. He has amassed an incredible knowledge of the natural world, mainly through videos or by having books read to him. But, at the beginning of the last school year, Colton could barely read. He struggled to sound out simple words, and trying to get through a basic story book was torturous for him and for me. It was so painful to watch him try so hard for so little reward. Recognizing his struggles, I began a few years ago to try to find a way to help him.

I knew that as a homeschooling family, we had the option of requesting help from the school board. But, I really did not want to go that route if at all possible. We are not part of that system, and I thought there would be better options for us. At a homeschool conference, I attended the lectures given by Elizabeth Harms, a neurodevelopmentalist, who began and works out of the Hope Centre for NeuroEducational Development in Quill Lake, Saskatchewan. Although Colton’s struggles were not as severe as many of the children Elizabeth works with, she was able to give me some strategies and some direction to begin with.

Then, as an answer to my prayers, I became aware of a young woman named Faith Smith. Faith was a teacher’s aide in the Kincaid school, which is about 30 minutes drive from here. But she had previously trained as a reading specialist, and was still taking clients in her spare time. I contacted her and she came and assessed Colton in our home, where she discovered he was reading at a low grade 1 level. Although that was no surprise to me, it was another arrow in my heart to see it in black and white. Faith agreed to work with Colton, and we set up appointments twice a week, for an hour each time. One day a week, I would load everyone up and we would drive to Kincaid, where the other boys and I would wait in Faith’s living room while Colton and Faith had a class together. The other day, Faith would drive to our place to meet with him. It was a long haul, but by the end of the school year, Colton was reading above his grade level, and has steadily improved as he continues to read for enjoyment. I am so thankful that God brought Faith into our lives.

What a difference reading has made for Colton. He devours books now, especially books about his beloved animal world. He said to me recently, “Mom, I can’t imagine what it would be like to not be able to read!” It has enhanced his love of learning so much.

While on our recent trip, I was struck again with Colton’s love of learning about the world around him. After we left Mexico, some of us spent an afternoon at Sea World. This experience was a highlight for all of us, but especially for Colton. It was a joy to watch him soak up the atmosphere and take in all of the exhibits and shows. He was almost vibrating! I wish we could have spent more time there. My dad commented several times on how much fun it was to watch Colton experience Sea World.

Colton also loves to share his knowledge and experiences with others, so if you only have a minute, don’t ask him about Sea World. It will take him a while to tell you all about the dolphins, sharks, penguins, rays, sea lions… But, you will get to see his eyes light up!

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