“If you don’t want your teacher to think you are an idiot, you better ask your mother to help you in this homework writing assignment”.
This is what I spurted out to my daughter who recently started 1st grade. My daughter asked for my assistance in one of her first writing homework assignments. Just to clarify I am a heavy dyslexic and a terrible speller. A second after I said this sentence I regretted it. My 6 year old daughter did not really catch the meaning of what I said, except of course to understand that to get homework assistance she better go to my wife.
The homework assignment of my daughter who has just started first grade was simple enough. She had to write a certain letter in a row of squares drawn on a sheet of paper. My daughter asked me to see if she had written the letters properly inside each one of the squares. Sounds simple enough. But my “dyslexic eyes” couldn’t for the life of me figure out if the letter was written inside or outside the square. To my eyes, the letters just floated around on the paper…
When I started to think about it, it occurred to me that helping my daughter in language assignments was very problematic:
- Most of the homework assignments of kids in first grades are technical writing and spelling assignments – directly focusing on my main dyslexic spelling weaknesses
- I realized that since my daughter has no previous “spelling knowledge”, so if I teach her a wrong spelling of a word, she will automatically learn and adopt the misspelling
A few days later, we were driving in the car. My daughter had learned her first 8 alphabet letters, and my wife was saying out words that included only these letters and asking my daughter to spell them. I stayed quiet during this session, and was quite happy when my second daughter who is in kindergarten asked to also participate by asking her simple arithmetic questions. Thank God I don’t have dyscalculia and could participate in this educational family game.
All of these minor incidents made me start thinking: Which role can I play in my daughters’ studies? Do I suffer not only from learning disabilities but also from teaching disabilities?