The summer of 2020 was unlike no other summer. COVID19 led to the cancelation of family trips and overnight camp. After months with my daughter — juggling my work schedule and her online schooling — I was exhausted. The summer seemed to stretch on endlessly, with no parenting reprieve in sight. I worried about my ability to entertain her, the inevitable complaints of “I’m bored”, and my parenting patience wearing thin. The solution certainly wouldn’t be more screen time, but it also wasn’t sustainable for me to create an ambitious project that would suck up my time, money, and energy.

Our solution came in the creation of a passion project. …

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It’s 6:38 AM and like most mornings, my young daughter is peppering me with questions. “Mama, does the heart inside of me look like a Valentine’s Day heart? Why does the bathroom mirror get foggy? Where do squirrels sleep?” Some questions are easily answered, but others leave my searching for both a satisfactory answer and for a logical source. Not only do I not know the answer for “When you lose weight, where does it go?”, but I am unsure of the origin of this question.

Fortunately for her, today I have woken up with an extra dose of parenting patience, so I am happy to indulge her questions. On the mornings when I am cranky or not-yet-caffeinated, I know am I not alone: A British study revealed that parents often feel ‘hopeless’ in not knowing how to answer their children’s questions. In his 2010 book Why Don’t Students Like School?, reading psychologist Daniel Willingham explains that even the most responsive parents don’t answer their children’s questions 25 percent of the time. …

Most of you were able to read the previous sentence. A powerful pattern seeker, your brain ignored the errors and instead sought out pre-existing logical patterns to reconstruct a meaningful sentence. Too many children, however, will never be able to complete such a task. For them, the privilege of reading — with its boundless adventures, liberating knowledge, and compelling characters — remains an unattainable goal. For over 40 million people, learning to read is rife with struggle and frustration; in fact, between 5–10% of the population has dyslexia, but this number could be as high as 17%

Despite many common misconceptions, dyslexia is not seeing letters or words backwards, reversing letters, linked to intelligence, attributed to laziness, or rooted in visual problems. Nor is dyslexia a life sentence for failure; several dyslexics in popular culture (including Richard Branson, John Lennon, and Whoopi Goldberg) attribute their reading disability as a key ingredient in their success. …

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