“I’m stupid. I don’t want to go to school.” My then 7-year-old son, AJ said to me one day on the way to school, his face defeated.
School had never been easy for AJ. Early in Kindergarten, we were called in to discuss his difficulty learning-especially with reading and writing. “He is just too distracted and unfocused. We know he can do the work, but he’d rather cut up paper and look out the window,” his teachers would tell us. No matter the amount of work we did with him and no matter the extra hours with a tutor, AJ was way behind his peers.
Then came second grade and everything took a turn for the worse. He couldn’t keep up with the class and his grades dropped from B’s and C’s to D’s and F’s. I knew we had to get him help somewhere because the public school system wasn’t working for him.
I discovered H.E.L.P. Miami and told AJ we would try to see if a new environment with smaller and more individualized attention would help.
This was the best decision we’ve ever made.
AJ started in the summer program and immediately we saw major changes in our son. He blossomed under Ms. Cassandra’s care and improved by leaps and bounds in the program. AJ entered reading at a low kindergarten level as a second grader, not able to read on his own and requiring assistance. But by the end of the summer, he had improved a whole grade level. Our son, who used to be so curious and inquisitive, had been lost under all the doubt and frustration. After just a few weeks, he finally reemerged. He became animated again, talking about school and what he learned. He started asking questions again and looking forward to going back the next day. It felt like a miracle.
Summer came to an end and he started the school year. Throughout his time, AJ has thrived, improving his reading by another grade level and a half. He is now able to read on his own and his writing has improved tremendously. His love for learning returned and his grades reflected this improvement going from D’s and F’s to mostly A’s and B’s. We couldn’t be happier with his progress, but best of all is how happy AJ is with his own progress.
“I want to get straight A’s,” he told me the other day when I picked him up.
I smiled back at his determined face, “And you can do it.”
“I know,” he said with a wide smile.
Thank you, HELP Miami for helping teach AJ the tools he needs to succeed and for bringing joy back to learning.