Ash is an existing student of mine who used to get into trouble with authority figures due to his learning difficulties (ADHD, ODD and dyslexia). Since returning to the Swords & Stationery programme, his results and attitude towards learning have dramatically improved. In Term 3, I also discovered a secret talent of his—Ash was a brilliant storyteller who could think on his feet.
Ash’s progress in Term 3 was heartening. I made it clear, however, that that was not the end of it—he needed to be consistent, and I’d be there to do what I could for him with regard to his English Language (EL).
Full speed ahead into Term 4
Moving ahead, the plan was to help Ash with his Term 4 EL papers by giving him all the scaffolding he’d need to strengthen his foundation. This included the Editing frameworks that I’d developed for the Swords & Stationery programme, and knowledge of the most common grammatical conventions, including subject-verb agreements and infinitive clauses.
Ash put in a lot of hard work over the next four weeks to master the various concepts, even texting me questions at night. He was a fast learner; in spite of his ADHD, he was able to pay attention and focus on his tasks. It was a lot to go through, and he put in a lot of hard work, but it all paid off in October.
How Ash fared in Term 4
The week of his year-end exams, after his English papers, I asked Ash if he thought he’d do well. He was worried he wouldn’t—to be specific, he knew he’d pass his English, but he wasn’t confident about his ability to turn a good grade. So, I told him, well, you tried your best, and I’m sure it will all turn out well.
A week later, I got a text from his mum. In the message, she thanked me for supporting Ash in his English—he had done so well that he was ranked 2nd in class! I was really caught off-guard, but that message really made my day.
According to Ash, it was the grammatical concepts covered in class, plus all the effort he’d put into doing revision exercises, that paid off. He was humble enough, but there was a certain acknowledgment that he only had to put in effort to accomplish what he had set out to do. In fact, knowing his own strengths now, Ash has requested to have classes twice a week, to push him up to a higher academic stream. It’s a testament to how much he has grown in such a short time span.
What we can learn from Ash
Let’s go all the way back to the beginning: here is a boy with several learning difficulties, all of which had made it difficult for him to focus and learn in typical classroom settings. His success, however, is telling—no child is without strengths. Ash was able to overcome his language difficulties and do better than many of his peers who have no learning difficulties.
This does not come easily, however. Hard work, determination, motivation and guidance are all needed. It may seem like a constant uphill struggle, sure, but the important takeaway here is that there is a pathway for the child. Success and progress are relative, not absolute. See your child with different lenses, and you may just find the right formula for them.