Hey Mom,

I know you love me and want the best for me. And I also know you are disappointed that I don’t like reading as much as you did as a kid. And you get frustrated when I take so long on my homework. I know you want me to try harder at school and enjoy it more. You keep telling me that if only I’d read more often, I’d be better at it. Easy peasy.

And you keep telling me not to worry when I get things wrong, that everybody makes mistakes. You want me to be a learning risk taker –  I know what you mean, like my sister and brother — to not be afraid of reading hard books or learning new things at school.

I want those things, too. I want you to be proud of me, and I want my teacher to be proud of me. I know you worry about me and I know you are frustrated that your friends have these perfect kids that actually like school.

All that makes me sad.  But I don’t want you to worry. I know that you have enough stuff to deal with!

You keep telling me that my school days are the best days of my life. I really hope that is not true. You know, Mom, school is not that easy for me.  Especially when it comes to reading.

Enjoy Reading, Really?

You and my teacher both tell me that as long as I keep reading, it will get easier and a lot more interesting. Well Mom, that’s not happening!

What is happening, in fact, is that everything is getting harder. There are fewer pictures in the books at school now, and so I am finding it harder to guess the words. Yes, Mom, I guess lots of words when I read. Actually, that worked pretty well for a long time, but it’s not working so much now – there are too many.

I know you think I am a problem kid because I go through the same routine every night to avoid reading. I don’t mean to cause you trouble, really I don’t. And If reading were as easy for me as it is for my [brother] I would have no problem sitting down to open a book. Heck, I would like to think that if reading were easier, I could learn to love reading the way you do.

But Mom, reading is torture for me. I think I am pretty smart and so it’s frustrating that everyone else finds it so easy. But for me, it’s like a whole new language on the page. There are a few words I recognize, but many I don’t. And yet, my job as a kid is to read, to somehow plow through all those words day after day.

Enjoy reading? I don’t think so. I would be happy with it just not being humiliating.

I Will Do Better At Homework

We have a tough time with homework, don’t we? I wish that were not the case.

And I am sorry I haven’t been very nice to the tutors you have hired. They keep asking me about what the teacher said at school, and I have no clue. She talks way too fast.

Some of the homework is OK. I do well enough in some of the memorization things, don’t I? It’s the reading and the assignments that I didn’t have time to write down during class that cause problems. I know it’s crunch-time when the assignment goes up on the board, but really, our teacher thinks we can write at lighting speed. We can’t. Or at least, I can’t.

But hey Mom, I am trying. Really I am. And I promise, I will be nicer to the next tutor.

Take Risks, Are You Kidding?

I know you and my teacher think that the way to learn is to take risks, to not sweat mistakes, to be open to new ideas and new ways. Man, that sounds great. But that’s not me. I am just trying to avoid failing, and to avoid disappointing my teacher or you.  Taking risks is just opening up a can of worms I don’t need to open.

You might not realize this, but as I see it, I have taken lots of risks in my learning. You know I have to read out loud in class, right?  You have heard me read out loud, so you know it is a huge adventure. Really, better said, it can be downright humiliating.

But I do it because it’s what kids have to do.

And then there’s math. It seems like there are strange new things everyday.

Honestly Mom, I wonder if there is something wrong with my teacher’s voice. She seems to mumble. Everything she says is fuzzy. I find it so hard just to hear the words she is saying, let alone figure out what she is talking about.

And when she asks me a question, she gives me no time to reply. By the time I have figured out what she has said, and thought about a response, she has already decided to ask someone else. That’s embarrassing Mom. She needs to give me more time!

And so my strategy at school is to lay low and try not to make a fool of myself.

Can You Help Mom?

It all sounds like a mess, doesn’t it?  I know I am not a great learner and that is the one thing you want me to be, a good learner!

But actually, I am OK. I think I will get this eventually, everyone else seems to have.  Please hang in there.

Note From Gemm Learning

Our education team has heard variations of this account from the 5,000 students we have helped over the years.  This post is not intended to make you feel bad as a parent because your child is struggling. It’s natural to want to challenge our kids and encourage them to try harder, whether they are struggling or not.

But it does raise the point that learning issues tend to be pervasive, impacting multiple aspects of a child’s life experience.

Yes, a little bit of tutoring for an hour a day might help, but what about the rest of the day?

This child is battling on many fronts, all day long. Aren’t you better off going with an intervention that addresses the source of difficulty?  There are no magic solutions, and nothing is 100%, but if you really want to make a difference to your child’s day, his whole day, you need to be looking at underlying issues.

If you’d like to learn how Gemm Learning works, send us a note about your child here.