Weakness. I’m thinking of my son’s. I’m thinking of my own. Here we are, two broken souls, trying to learn and grow.
We started schooling at home last year. Since we adopted Nick at nineteen months, he has received speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. He is hearing impaired, completely deaf in his left ear. He takes daily medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. And he has significant learning disabilities in reading, writing, and math for which he has received special education. And he still has much ground to make up.
I’ve been told at individualized education programming meetings (IEPs) that once students reach middle school, the educational focus shifts from teaching foundational skills to teaching compensatory skills for those with special needs. In other words, whatever foundation in reading, writing, and math one has by sixth grade is about as good as it gets. But what if a kid still can’t read? What if a kid still can’t spell? What if a kid still can’t do basic math computations? What if he doesn’t understand math concepts enough to know which function to push on a calculator?
As a former elementary school teacher, I know a bit about teaching and learning. I’m also a mom. I know my son and his abilities better than most school system employees. I believed he could still learn if given a chance—that we could build a strong foundation, if given time and practice. I also understand that schools teach the masses and cannot give the individualized time and attention often needed by students like Nick, even though they try.
When we began schooling at home, I had the same one goal I have today—to help him reach his potential. I prayed for him. I prayed for me. Still do. Every day. I pray that God will help Nick learn. I pray that God will help me teach. I pray that God will lead us to the right people who can help us both.
God means what He says when He says that if we lack wisdom, all we need do is ask and He will give abundantly. He has done so, over and over, never failing me. I’m getting used to not knowing what to do. I’m getting used to asking for guidance and wisdom and expecting to get both. I depend on God because God has proven Himself dependable.
And Nick? How has God helped Him? Here’s where he was a year and a half ago and where he is today:
Had not mastered vowel or consonant sounds. Reading at second grade level, though not fluently. Spelling at first grade level. No understanding of multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, place value. No multiplication facts known. Had no clue where Texas was on a map, or any other state including Wisconsin, even though he’s been to most. Could not name any continents, including his own.
Reading independently at the fifth grade level. Spelling multisyllabic words—slowly but surely. Has mastered all multiplication/division facts. Can add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions and decimals. Can independently work long division problems with two-digit divisors and multiplication problems with three-digit factors. Can reduce fractions. Has understanding of algebraic equations and can solve for x. Can find area and perimeter of all polygons and can define a polygon.
And . . . (drumroll) . . . Nick now knows all 50 states and capitols AND he can find them all on a map. He can also locate and name every European country and all bodies of water, including major rivers of the world.
How’s that for someone with a working memory disability and five qualifying areas for special education?
But my favorite thing? Last year, I read the best story Bible in the world to Nick. This year, he’s reading it aloud to me! And we discuss and pray about applying what we learn to our lives.
Sigh! What is this wonder?
I call it the loving ears of God hearing our prayers and pouring out daily miracles into two weak vessels, fashioning us as He wills.
I call it amazing.
They say that faith can move mountains.
I say that faith can cause broken people to realize we’re not just broken . . .
We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
Nick and I just do what we know to do today and leave the tomorrows to God because He holds all tomorrows in the palm of his hand.
Glory to God, now and forever.
But by the grace of God I am what I am. 1 Corinthians 15:10
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9