This week I was so proud of T11 that I almost cried. He wrote his first completely independent 5 paragraph essay using this tool . I asked T11 if he would mind me relating some of his story with regards to his difficulty with writing, and if I could share his essay. T11 would be my most behind the scenes child, not really enjoying the limelight, but I think he was so chuffed with himself (as he should be!) that he agreed.
For much of his childhood T11 was under the watchful eye of a speech therapist for what we thought was a stuttering issue. The speech therapist disagreed but she really wasn’t sure what was wrong. At 7 she referred him to a specialist speech therapist who dealt with unusual speech problems. Seven is the earliest he was able to be tested. The examination lasted 2 hours but she came out saying it was very obvious what the problem was. He was diagnosed with a word finding disorder due to the fact his vocabulary level was off the scale. Her scale went up to age 13, he was only seven and his vocab was greater than the average 13-year-old. I say this without pride. At the time I was terribly upset. I thought I’d caused this communication problem by the amount of reading we did. The speech therapist assured me he would grow out of it, and really it was a positive problem to have not a negative one. It has been hard for T11. Not only does he struggle to find words sometimes but writing has been almost impossible for him, as the word finding issue translates down into his writing.
His speech has improved hugely over the last few years, except when he goes through a growth spurt. His writing, however, has remained a problem. I tried everything. Even writing a paragraph was hard and at times reduced him to tears. I never lowered my expectations of him, just increased the help I gave him. We stuck with narrations, dictations and copywork for longer than I would have naturally. Using IEW helped, although for him to use it as prescribed would have been impossible. I used their stylistic techniques with great success and made a small informationary to help him write a great paragraph. His writing improved immediately. He still found it very laborious but he never gave up. When his sisters finished a paragraph much sooner than he did he battled on, sometimes through tears and sometimes with me sitting next to him giving him any support he needed.
At the beginning of this year I knew I wanted to start the older three learning to write a five paragraph essay so made a new informationary. This time I went into huge detail, outlining exactly what I required of them. I knew the girls would cope fine but I thought T11 would probably still struggle. T11 is highly intelligent and knows where he wants to go in life. He is determined and hard-working. He also knows that in order to get where he wants to go (university to study science of some sort, maybe veterinary science) he needs to improve his writing. He understands this is key. Fair or not, this is how exams and universities work. An inability to write clearly could be a hinderance to him. We had a long talk and I expressed that whilst I expected him to do the same work, at the same level as the girls I would give him all the help and support he needed and he would have no time constraints on him. If his work took longer so be it.
His first essay was to discuss reasons why Duke William wanted to take the throne of England. It took him two weeks, instead of one. He followed the informationary to a tee and emerged with a rather good essay. He did it without stress, without tears and without moaning. Here is his essay:
William, the Duke of Normandy, wanted the English crown. Although he was very powerful in his own country, he was willing to fight a gruesome battle for this crown. But why? The three main reasons will be discussed below.
Firstly, he believed it was God’s will. William had strongly beseeched the pleasant pope to support him because the pope was thought to represent God. William would never have gone to battle without the pope’s support because it would have been a sin. It is declared that William saw a knight with a banner and upon it was a cross, supporting his idea that God would be with him in this battle. And with God on his side, no one could possibly defeat him.
Secondly, he fought for the safety of Normandy. Harald Hadrada, the ruthless king of Normandy, also coveted the English crown. If Harald had defeated England his next goal may have been to take Normandy. Harold Hadrada was a giant of a man, with broad shoulders and immense strength. By defeating this man, William would be removing any threat.
Thirdly, he believed he was the rightful heir. The Godwinsons had rebelled once and Edward, king at the time, had called on William for help, promising him the throne. Also Edward had sent Harold to tell William that when he died William was to become king of England. Duke William had Harold swear over Holy relics to support his right to the throne when the time came. So, it was morally right for William to become king.
There are many reasons why William wanted the throne. Three have been mentioned. Of these three it being within God’s will was probably the most important, as God is the highest power in the world. Now you know why William wanted the English throne.
It isn’t only because the essay was such an improvement that I was tearful, but the fact that my gorgeous little boy has shown me glimpses of the man he has the potential to become. He has fought and won a battle. This battle wasn’t a quick one. It has lasted four years, and probably isn’t over yet. Somehow though, this essay has lifted an invisible pressure that maybe neither of us wanted to admit was there. A light at the end of the tunnel. It is doubtful he will ever find writing easy but he knows what he can achieve, on his own, and that will give him confidence each time he picks up a pen.
So proud of my boy.