Finding Henry James
May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true,
May you always know the truth
And see the light surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
Standing upright and strong,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young.
Four year ago before Christmas, when my eight-year-old son, Henry James, decided that his only wish from Santa Claus was to be able to read. That was when I realized that my Waldorf School second-grader did not have any pre-reading skills and has been suffering for months.
For the next eight months Henry was home-schooled while I self-taught myself, late into the nights of the Orton-Gillingham (OG) reading method. While waiting for the Special Education testing results and set up an IEP meeting, I researched about Learning Differences and planned for his placement for the next school year. After visited a variety of schools, I concluded that Henry would benefit from being with the same age school children while trying to catch up.
In China, a very strong mother is called a “tiger”. It was extremely difficult for me to convince the world that a boy who was three years behind in Reading and Math would be able to sit in regular classrooms. During many sleepless nights, I sat next to Henry’s bed, rubbing his soft dark-brown hair, and watching him sleep. I have always been very clear minded and strong willed. What I known about and believed in my child have to take us through. I constantly told Henry that he is a very special and intellectual child and everyone learns differently in their own ways. I assured him that his intelligence, perseverance, drive, passion for learning, and trust in himself would give him the strength he needed, and he would succeed through hard work.
Henry was home-schooled from that cold spring through the humid New England summer. I made him a magic wand to discover about the “e” fairy dust, while Henry changed the word from tap to tape, kit to kite. His mouth was wide open from surprise, and his happy little face lit up like the new moon. I bit my lip and held back tears. Henry followed my instructions for sewing heart pillows with buttons and beads to reinforce counting by 3’s and 5’s. We studied part of the history line through Beatles’ songs, and he fell in love with their music. Henry marched his fingers daily through jam and rice for sounding out his letters and he grasped the meaning of fractions from playing his own guitar. We baked and gardened in order to become familiar with and to master the sequences, and he recited stories after stories for building up his comprehension. Henry was ready; he worked hard and craved for more and more.
When school started in September of that year I walked Henry to the schoolyard to join the other third-graders and watched him held his shoulders straight and his head high. Henry transitioned through five different reading groups and was re-evaluated again and again. Right before the Christmas Break, I was informed that my Henry would no long need an IEP, since he was truly reading above his grade level. He was well-adjusted with other children and performed well with all his other subjects. Tears rolled down my face like a stream as I hugged Henry tight to share the news. My cub was fine.
I am now a Volunteer Advocate for parents who need help. I talk to the parents about how to apprehend their children’s learning style and show them the steps for getting the help they need. The experience of home-schooling Henry has made me a strong and confident mother. The growing process has made me more open-minded, I know that promoting understanding and respects is crucial with learning differences. It is my goal to help other parents gain their knowledge about their children’s learning abilities and to guide them to find their parental strengths for helping and supporting their children.
Discovering Henry James was the best Christmas present, ever, for a Chinese “tiger”.