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Fighting For Your Child

Having seen her older son struggle for years, Jennifer Simpson was able to recognize her daughter�s reading challenges in preschool and get her help right away.

Jennifer Simpson is a mother on a mission. Unlike many parents who don’t realize when their child is behind the learning curve, Jennifer knows exactly where her daughter should be — and isn’t.


Emiliann: (reading) One day, the man down the hall called us. His dog had puppies.

Al: Seems pretty unremarkable, right? A mom and a dad listen to their daughter read. Happens all the time! But this moment was a long time coming for Jennifer Simpson.

Al: Emiliann is in the second grade, and she’s finally starting to enjoy reading.

Jennifer: The happiest moment of my life is watching Emiliann read to her sister or to me or her dad.

Al: But the feeling is bittersweet. Emiliann’s success hasn’t come easily. Jennifer struggled with Emiliann’s first school and even moved her family to a new district before she found what Emiliann needed.

Al: And how did she know what to look for in a school? That’s the bittersweet part of the story.

Keith: I don’t like reading at all. Just cause I…It frustrates me to read. And I choose not to read anything.

Al: She’s been through this before — with her 19-year old son, Keith.

Jennifer: When I put him in kindergarten, he still couldn’t learn his alphabet. So, we said, “Okay. Let’s put him in first grade and see what happens.” And he repeated the first grade because he had such a difficult time even grasping what first grade was all about.

Al: Jennifer talked with Keith’s teachers, and — like a lot of parents — she thought the school would take care of him.

Jennifer: I thought they were doing exactly, you know, what they told me they were going to do. Didn’t always happen, and wasn’t very smart in finding out that it wasn’t going on, ‘cause you tend to trust your teachers and the vice principal and the people that, you know, you give your child to teach.

Al: Keith never got the help he needed. He finished high school, and he’s hoping to become a chef one day, but he’s never become a truly fluent reader.

Jennifer: Is he embarrassed by it? Yes. Is he mad at himself? Yes, ‘cause he thinks he could’ve done something more. And it shouldn’t have been on him. He was the child. I was the parent. I should’ve fought for him, and I didn’t know I could.

Al: So when Jennifer noticed Emiliann having speech problems in preschool, she took action immediately.

Jennifer: I got her tested. I wasn’t gonna fail this one like I failed my first.

Al: Jennifer Simpson was finally on the right track. While older readers like Keith can get help, one of the best things a parent can do is recognize signs of trouble early.

From Reading Rockets’ Empowering Parents , part of the Launching Young Readers Series.

Launching Young Readers: Empowering Parents
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