22/01/2013

The stark reality

I have two children; I've spent 7 years home educating one, in amongst the 8.5 years that I have home educated the other.

They are both Dyslexic, and one also has Dyspraxia.

Overnight, home educating became my full-time job, and I approached it as such.
I have taught myself to facilitate an appropriate education for my children.
Never knowingly sleeping when I could be doing something useful, I've researched, read, written, differentiated and experimented with learning styles and techniques, continually adapting the choices and learning tools I gave them access to.

Once they were both reading and writing fluently, the rest came easily.
They became independent, dedicated learners, who knew how to adapt the way they worked in order to minimise the negative effects of their learning differences, and play to the strengths those same differences gave them.

They have flourished and (hopefully, oh god, hopefully!) they've recovered from any damage done to them by North Yorkshire Education Authority.

Occasionally I have been besieged by niggles about whether we did the right thing in taking them out of mainstream education, giving them an upbringing that is an increasingly popular choice for parents, but is still seen by many as the decision of a clingy, over-protective mother, a religious nut, or an obsessive hot-houser.

It would be unrealistic of me to pretend that at times I wasn't jealous of those who were able to drop their children off at school, safe in the knowledge that they were learning effectively, settled and happy, and then get on with their careers.

Living on one self-employed income has been a huge struggle, and it continues to be so, increasingly.

But over the past week I have taken some shifts as a volunteer on the Twitter account and email inbox of Dyslexia Together, and some of the stories that people have bravely shared have been heartbreaking.

I have been humbled that strangers have trusted us with their anecdotes about the discrimination and bullying they have been subjected to at school, at work, and, in some cases, at home.

Why?

Because they have Specific Learning Difficulties, and people don't understand the impact that those difficulties can have on the lives of those who have them.

I won't go in to details as they are not my stories to tell.

But it has brought home to me that not only have we done the right thing in giving our children the opportunity to live their childhoods whilst embracing their learning styles, we have also protected them from the stress, battles and crushed confidence that STILL seems to be part and parcel of being a pupil with SpLDs in the English state education system.

I'll probably never have a glittering career now, my MA is a mirage on the horizon, and we have had to shelve the plans of owning an ivy-clad cottage by a stream, (or any property at all, who am I kidding?) but it seems like a fair swap for the sanity and self-esteem of my children.

We need to protect every child though, and we should stop allowing the Government to shortchange pupils with SpLDs.

We also need to advocate for adults in the workplace, and those who cannot work due to unsupported learning difficulties..... and every person with SpLDs who is unable to reach their potential because no-one has ever shown them how to access education in a way that suits their learning style.

We need to highlight, challenge and demand justice for discrimination in society.

We're starting with that bottom-feeding, former-gambling-addict, former-local-radio DJ, Jeremy Kyle.

Please add your name to the first of Dyslexia Together's projects, and tell us why you are adding your voice to ours.

Our petition link is HERE.

Thank you.

We can do this - we just need to do it together!



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