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Affinity Group Supports Students

By Jen Curyto

Last Thursday, our reading/writing support group gathered around a table in the library over lunch for the first time this school year.  

The group–offered to any student who identifies as having dyslexia and/or has struggled to read and/or write–was started two years ago after a student came to the staff with a willingness to support her peers and the insight of someone who has grown more comfortable with her learning challenges. She told us, “I know I’m not the only one.”

On Thursday, there was a small handful of new-comers, perhaps leading to a slight hesitancy as many were not sure what to expect. In this small group setting, however, children have the opportunity to share their individual experiences. Slowly, we took turns introducing ourselves and the uneasiness began to dissipate as the older children and grown-ups alike shared what parts of school are (or had been) challenging for us.  

Shared Experiences

Some mentioned tutors and talked about comparing the size of the books they were reading to those of their classmates.  Others referred to the experience of having a plethora of ideas, but going “blank” when the time came to put those thoughts onto a page.  Heads nodded in agreement as they realized that these experiences–experiences which perhaps had led them to feel isolated in the past–were shared by others.  

In addition to talking about our struggles, we discussed our talents and passions which varied from cooking to music, from art to math.  After these affinities were voiced, one child so wisely announced, “There are many ways to be smart–not just [by being good at] reading.”   

We hope that by providing a safe forum to discuss reading and writing challenges, our students will feel empowered to work through these difficulties while developing empathy for others.

As I reflect on the insight and courage of our children, I am reminded that it’s not in spite of our challenges that a strong sense of identity develops, but instead, it’s often because of them.  I’m so grateful for Miquon, this safe place for children to be known and cherished, a place where we all grow in our acceptance not only of others, but of ourselves as well.

*This group is facilitated by Jen Curyto and Rossana Zapf and is open to any 3rd through 6th grader who identifies as having dyslexia and/or has struggled to read and/or write. Our plan is to have another meeting at a later time that will include 1st and 2nd graders.

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