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Three Fourteen Year-olds

A 14-year-old came to get help for the last term of his 4th form year (now year 10). His mother said that at the parent teacher interview his teacher could not remember him as he was so quiet. She was also told there was no way he would be able to pass any subjects of his School Certificate! His main problem was reading accurately (especially the small words in questions), spelling, organising a composition and remembering what he had heard.

He practised writing down a word or main point for each sentence I read to him, building up to four paragraphs at a time.

He wrote stories about his hunting and whitebaiting. (I learnt a lot about whitebaiting)

For School Certificate he passed three subjects, including English.

The next year we studied maths through Correspondence School. He passed, I wouldn’t have passed! He eventually went to university, and later became a conservation worker.

Another 14-year-old had similar problems, I took him for year but the family then left for Australia where his father was to be the principal of a school.

I met the father again some years later at a reunion where he thanked me as his son had just gained a 2nd grade degree in physics, saying it would never have happened without my help.

The third 14-year-old I was taking at the time - by the by, they were all very tall, quiet boys, towering over me, had very severe problems. Luckily he had reasonable vocabulary and listening comprehension skills. If he could not spell the word ‘can’ – it could be ‘cna’- then I knew he was having a bad day and I could not teach him new things; we just did revision.

The first improvement his mother noticed was his trying to do homework for the first time ever. He eventually found a job in a petrol station because luckily he was good at maths.

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