I'm so proud of my sweet Gavin. He has worked so hard this school year. Gavin started off the year reading well below grade level and ended the year almost where he is suppose to be!
Gavin has always struggled with reading and language. He did Kids on the Move to help with his language development when he was 2, and before he started preschool I would work with him almost daily learning his letters and sounds. I remember his preschool teacher pulled me in one day and told me of her concerns with him and encouraged me to repeat preschool. I decided to move him on to Kindergarten, but it was always on the back of my mind that he may have to repeat a grade if he fell behind too far. Kindergarten he did okay, and then he was in 1st.
In 1st grade there is a huge jump in reading. I am a 1st grade teacher, and I love it because the kids come in knowing to read simple books, and leave reading chapter books. It makes you feel like a wonderful teacher, although it is just the kids' development and maturity. So, it was really hard for me to watch Gavin struggle through the year. I knew exactly where he should be and he wasn't there. He kept slipping farther and farther behind. He had a wonderful teacher who was also concerned and started interventions to help him. When those interventions didn't seem to make a difference he was referred to resource and he started that beginning of 2nd grade.
In the beginning of 2nd grade, on the DRA reading test, Gavin scored a 12, which is mid-year 1st grade. And at the end of the year, he was reading at a level 28!! They are suppose to be at a 30 at the end of 2nd grade, so he was really close! I couldn't be more proud of him and all his hard work. I don't know what it was specifically that helped him. But these are the things we did differently this year:
Resource-I am a teacher, and I know a lot about helping children with learning disabilities, but I know that I do not have the skills those resource teachers do. The strategies and knowledge they have is not something I can do. I'm a big believer in trusting the system and trusting those who know more than I. And I think they are great resource teachers at Highland Elementary. Gavin struggled, and still struggles with going to resource. He doesn't like to be pulled out of class. But I keep stressing with him, that sometimes we need to do things we don't want to do, but it will be worth it if we stick through it. Hopefully that will be a good life-long lesson he will learn.
Tutoring-I take Gavin to AF library at the Brian McKay Eddington Learning Center. The tutors are these sweet elder missionaries where this is their service mission. The program they use has been really helpful for Gavin. They do a lot of phonics practice, which is good for him. Those little reading tricks (silent e, two vowels, etc) he needed a lot of repetition in order to remember them in his reading, and this program helped him with that. It also helped with his fluency and comprehension, two things he struggled with.
Medication-I was really on the fence about putting Gavin on medication. First of all, I didn't think he had ADD. I thought (and still do) that he has dyslexia. So when I asked the psychologist who did his testing what her thoughts were, she brought up the inattentiveness and lack of focus. He doesn't have the hyperactivity, which made it harder for me to see, especially when trying out medications. I had to rely a lot on what his teacher said. So we tried a couple different medications, and I didn't feel that there was a difference. His teacher said she couldn't tell a difference on or off medication. He was well behaved and seemed to be paying attention. It wasn't until about November, we switched to a new medication and I noticed at home he was more focused on not just academic things, but in his playing. He could sit and work on Legos forever or play with his trucks. And he didn't have as much interest in computer games or TV, he would rather use his imagination.
And of course we read with him daily. Both him reading to us, and us reading to him. But mostly him reading.
Through this whole experience with Gavin, and I can't stop thinking about how grateful I am to learn all these things. I know we are going through this to be able to help Liam. Gavin learns very similarly to other children with Down syndrome. They are very visual. So already I feel like I know how I can help Liam in his language and when he starts learning to read, because I know what has worked for Gavin.
But again, couldn't be more proud of my sweet Gavin. His hard work and dedication is what really made the big difference. He is going to go far!
Casey and I were married on June 17, 2004. We have four kids. Gavin is 10 and is our little engineer. Kyson is 8 and is our little comedian. Adalyn is 5 and is our sweet dramatic little girl and y our little Angel, Liam is 3. I have the best of two worlds. I teach 1st grade part time, and then I get to be a mom! Casey works for his dad at a machine shop called Alpine Echo.