Being Half Full on the Front Lines by Kristen Eckenwiler

Being Half Full on the Front Lines - www.thestrugglingreader.com

Being Half Full on the Front Lines by Kristen Eckenwiler

It is a privilege each year to be given the opportunity to stand before a countless number of parents who are searching for answers to the reading struggles they are dealing with in their homes. I have listened to parents who have remortgaged their homes, own all the curriculum available, or family members raising a sibling’s children because of death—and learning to read was not a priority. I shed tears with a Mom one year whose son had a terminal illness and he wanted to learn to read—and she was determined to teach him. Wow.

I love what I do and am thankful every moment for the enchanted ministry I get to participate in. However, I never want to give the impression that it is an easy task if you “just do it right.” I admire every parent who lays it on the front lines every day, sometimes with great strides, but most of the time with baby steps . . . and backward steps.

I will admit that I am by nature a true optimist. I hate the word “disability” because of its negative connotations. Many children struggle with learning to read. Some children are developmentally slower than others and eventually will learn to read just fine; other children truly labor under some kind of challenge. It has been my experience that most, if not all, children CAN and DO learn to read. This does NOT mean that they love to read and long to do nothing more. It does mean that, eventually, most children can learn to “decode” our language well enough to function in society.

No one knows your child better than you do. No one cares more about their success than you do. No one knows the internal and sometimes external battle you endure, the frustration of trying to teach someone you love who is just not “getting it.”

God knows.

I think that everyone needs affirmation and encouragement, so I make it a habit to speak words of life to parents who are in the battle. It is so important that they learn early on to be optimistic. Some days will be good; some will be not so good. Stay the course, believe, seek truth in all things. Most importantly, do all that you can to preserve the relationship you have with your child. Let them know often that you love them—no matter what.

How do you keep yourself and your child encouraged as you walk this struggling reader journey?

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