Today I feel worried, guilty and excited rolled into one. Why? Because my dyslexia daughter is doing an exam, which I put her in for. I am always looking for ways to nurture and boost my daughter’s self esteem and someone recommended LAMDA drama exams as being the perfect way to help with memorising poems and speaking in public. Without too much persuasion I signed her to a drama school club.
Being dyslexic means my daughter has problems with sequencing and a poor short-term memory so learning a poem can be tricky – especially if there are lots of complicated unconnected words. My daughter was given two poems and after a few weeks she could recite them beautifully and then I got the note that in two weeks time she would be doing her first LAMDA exam. I had the poems in front of me and asked my daughter to recite them, to my horror I realised she had learnt them, but changed many of the words, putting her own spin on the poem. I knew she would be marked down for mistakes, but by over-correcting her I was chipping away at her confidence and making a small problem bigger. I considered pulling her out of the exam, because I wanted to increase her confidence, not make her feel worse. But then I felt bad because she had worked so hard and by dropping out of the exam my daughter may feel a failure.
So, I decided we would go through the poems line by line and because my daughter is a visual learner I would give her silly visual trigger points to help her remember. So for the word “happy”, I smiled broadly at her for the word “neat” I brushed dust off from my shoulder, the idea is that when she thinks of the poem, she has the images in her head.
She did such a great job, we also recorded her saying the poem on my iPad and she played it back several times as repetition works really we, she made great progress. The question I have is was I right to push her out of her comfort zone to boost her confidence because this could all backfire – or it could be the best thing we have ever done? A real gamble.
Today is the exam and my daughter got up at 6.30 am to practice – her idea not mine. She has wonderful facial expressions and I really enjoyed hearing her recite the poems, so maybe I had made the right decision. She had also had a bout of whooping cough so I was hoping the cough, which she still had would keep at bay today.
At 10.15, I was in a supermarket, deciding which mushrooms to buy, and I stopped – knowing my daughter would be standing straight on a spot, pink tails back from her face and shaky hands, reciting her poems, but without me doing ridiculously over exaggerated facial expressions. She was on her own and I could do nothing to help her.
I then got a ping on my e-mail to hear that a minute before the exam, my daughter jammed her finger in a door, it drew blood and was very painful. It broke my heart to think of her in pain and doing an exam, so all I can do is hope for the best and see if my gamble has paid of, I really hope it has because dyslexic children need champions and confidence boosters. Right or wrong, like many mums, I did what I thought was right at the time.