Closing the Reading Gap

"Closing the reading gap" by Courtney Vallejo (

Copyright 2018 Courtney Vallejo. All rights reserved.

Do you have a child who struggles with reading? Are they older (maybe 7 or 8) and no matter what you do, they can’t seem to remember the sounds of each letter? Do you have children who seemed to be ok, maybe slightly behind other children their age, but then in 2nd or 3rd grade, suddenly the gap got bigger? Have you had your child tested for dyslexia? The common misunderstanding is that a child who switches the letter B or D must be dyslexic. While dyslexic children may struggle with this, avid emerging readers can also struggle with this problem.

October is National Dyslexia Awareness Month, so I wanted to take a moment to mention dyslexia, because two of my children have been “diagnosed” with dyslexia. The reason I say, “diagnosed,” is in no way meant to downplay the diagnosis, but it is to differentiate the way I see the meaning of the word. The definition of the word diagnosis is the identification of the nature of an illness or other problem by examination of the symptoms. The second definition is the distinctive characterization in precise terms of a genus, species, or phenomenon.

The problem I see with this word is that it’s used to identify an illness/other problem. Dyslexia is not an illness, and while it can defiantly impair the way a child reads, it may not end up being a problem, once the right resources have been found. From the classes and seminars I have attended on dyslexia, I have found that it is a difference in the formation of the brain. Now in no way am I a medical doctor, nor have I studied dyslexia at length. I am just sharing my understanding.

Individuals with dyslexia generally have more right-brained abilities. They are more creative and excel at problem solving. It seems to me that this not a disability, but rather it’s simply the way they were created and they can use this characteristic just as non-Dyslexic individuals use their brain formation for their own benefit.

The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia, a documentary created in 2012, was an eye-opening film about the gifts my children have been given. The most inspiring part was the list they gave of famous individuals with dyslexia. I believe it was Richard Branson, founder and chairman of London-based Virgin Group, who said that he used his “big picture” thinking in staff meetings. When there was a problem or a conflict in a meeting, he found that the other staff members were worried, while he quickly saw the solution.

Now, while there may be benefits like seeing the big picture, learning to read, especially for one of my children, has been a huge struggle. For my children and for my family, it’s been a long search for answers. We’ve spent 6 years trying to understand our children and their academic strengths and weaknesses so we could get them the help they needed. It’s tiring for all of us, but the reward of finding the right program to build our children’s knowledge and confidence has been well worth the search. We came across a reading program called Barton, named after its creator, Susan Barton. It has literally been life changing for my children. They’re reading! One of my children, who couldn’t even remember sounds, is breaking up words so that they are able to both read and write the words.

If you see your child struggling, if your mother’s instinct is telling you something isn’t working for them, I encourage you to seek help from your local school district. Whether your children are homeschooled or classroom educated (in the public or private setting), they are eligible for resource services from your local school district. Don’t feel defeated. Help is out there. It might require a search, but we live in a country that has resources. It has taken lots of advocating on our part as parents, but I can’t encourage you enough to keep asking questions on your children’s behalf.

If you’ve watched your child struggle with reading, please share your story with us. Let’s build a community that supports and encourages advocacy for our children.

Copyright 2018 Courtney Vallejo


About Author

Courtney Vallejo is a convert to the Catholic faith, who lives in California. She and her husband homeschool their three adopted children. She is the cofounder of, whose mission is to inspire, encourage, and reclaim joy in motherhood. She also writes for her own blog, Courtney holds a Master's degree in Film Production and a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. Follow her Gluten Free/Dairy Free adventures on Instagram: @aglutenfreerevolution.

Leave A Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.