He’s Learning…He’s Learning Not

One afternoon some months ago, Jay’s teacher came to me exasperated. “I can’t believe this boy got to the 5th grade, and he’s still a non-reader!”

He was such a sweet boy, but turned into this surly beast once classes began. Obstinate. Hostile. Uncooperative.

Perhaps he felt like Tom in the video below.

I knew Jay. In fact, he had been placed on my caseload for speech-language therapy, a year earlier.

Not only could he not read, but he also got confused with left and right, he “misheard” directions so they had to be repeated – often with the language simplified, and he got his sounds mixed up when pronouncing multi-syllabic words, among other difficulties. 

Jay was absent often, and when in school, more and more he began getting into fights.

Although Jay was in a special education class, he was expected to sit the same state examinations as all the other students in the regular education 5th grade classes. Tell me if that’s not an oxymoron. The teacher is asked to teach the child slower and at his level of functioning. But the child is tested according to his grade level.

Poor Jay, his sessions of speech-language therapy were so interrupted by absences, assemblies, trips, etc., that his future looked dismal. In his time with me, we found out he liked learning through play, games, and any process that kept him active. So we used koosh balls, action games, and exercises to help him learn various things. We did see some small improvement.

Was Jay dyslexic? He was never tested for it.

Should his mother have insisted on it? She stopped advocating for him once he was placed in the special class.

Jay’s story could have ended differently. Moving beyond what the school system offers, parents have resources available that can be used at home to reinforce what’s done in school and foster additional learning. Systems that stimulate the brain and body by using rhythm and movement. Jay’s mom didn’t use them, but those few parents who did, saw their children improve in self confidence, as well as academics.

Question: Have you had to use alternative ways to learn or help your child learn something?


Florence is the mother of an amazing teenager; an educational consultant, author, speaker, speech-language pathologist, encourager and perpetual optimist. She shares tips, tools and resources with mothers (and other caregivers) of struggling and/or failing children. She is fiercely committed to helping them develop and enhance their children's foundational skills for learning, to grow them to success in school and life. A believer in the unique learning abilities of all children, she is an advocate for those who learn differently.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 thoughts on “He’s Learning…He’s Learning Not

  1. Some interesting points. I’m not a parent but as a qualified arts therapist who has worked with children in the past I enjoyed reading your article.
    Wishing you succulent, effortless success

    • Thanks for stopping by, Shannon. I appreciate your wishes and sentiments. Many years ago while working in a special education school, I met an art therapist for the first time. You must have fun watching your clients heal through art. Life is so full of possibilities…if only more people were willing to look outside the box for solutions to the challenges of life.