By Maria Hadjidemetriou
“No mamma,you read to me like when I was little” my daughter Julia said, and I did. This pattern during bedtime stories continued and it soon became evident that she didn’t want to read because she was struggling.
I had discovered my child’s first learning crisis and it broke my heart.
Knowing something was wrong, I sent an email to her teacher requesting a meeting. I was disappointed, though, when she offered no solutions, saying instead “it’s still early, children regress during the summer months.” I asked for my daughter to be placed with the Reading Specialist our school is fully funded for, but instead the teacher suggested we wait several months.
At home, I created word games, trying to make learning more fun for my daughter. I would have her write words on an erasable board and create sentences with these words. I saw her mature in her sentence writing from basic description to a deep sense of self. On one memorable occasion, she used the word “become” to write “I will become a woman soon.”
Throughout the following months, I continued to email and call the teacher, and soon became familiar with her favorite question: “what are you doing at home?” I was trying so hard to help my child, and I’m not a bad parent, but I’m also not a teacher. I wanted to ask “what are you doing in the classroom?”
Finally the teacher agreed to meet with me in early February—months after I came to her with my initial concern. At the meeting, I was shocked to hear the teacher say there was a “high probability” that my daughter would not move into 2nd grade. I’d been begging to have my daughter placed into a reading intervention program to avoid this very kind of problem.
That’s when I realized the teacher wasn’t going to provide the help my daughter needed, and my mission started. I quickly started moving up the school administration, finally reaching the Superintendent of our District, Bonnie Laboy.
Ms. Laboy was gracious, kind, understanding and sympathetic. I felt someone really had my back. In the weeks to come my daughter was assessed and placed with a talented and loving Reading Specialist, who uses the interventional program Sounds In Motion.
My daughter loved the new program, which helps improve early literacy by first focusing on listening skills. She came home excited every day—eager to share her new sounds and motions and asking me to repeat them.
The one-on-one training and attention paid off, and Julia was promoted to 2nd grade. And now that summer is here, during bedtime stories we found a way to make our special time a happy time—she reads one page, and I read one.
Moms and Dads, don’t be afraid to push until your child gets the services they deserve. You are their only advocate.
Maria Hadjidemetriou, passionate Downtown resident for over sixteen years, enjoys life as a mom to her seven-year-old daughter and being a Real Estate Sales Agent. You can find her on twitter at @downtownmomnyc