Reading Comprehension: More Useful When Applied than Tested

My soon to be 14 year old has been tested as having the reading comprehension level of a third grader. He was diagnosed as autistic at age four and a half. After two years of public school kindergarten, where he learned nothing except that he thought he wasn’t smart, I pulled him out and homeschooled him. I homeschooled all the kids until this January.

He always did everything at his own pace, be it school work or making tea in his just – so way. This was never a problem because, at his own speed, he was learning.

He always was behind in math, but again, he was just learning at a different speed. When we did literature study and reading comprehension, he struggled greatly to put what he read into answer forms on paper. Yet, all of his free time has always been spent pouring over science books or researching plants, animals, ocean life, rocks and minerals, countries and states. His memory for all his “extra curricular” studies is on savant level. He can identify any mineral or rock. He knows all the plants around us, the wildlife and their habitats and diets. He memorized the periodic table on his own and understands how each element interacts with another.  He is, to say the least, incredible. He is also quiet and humble and gentle.

But testing doesn’t show this. Testing says his IQ is very low. Testing says he reads and understands at a third grade level. On paper, no one would know that he is actually a genius.

The other day we were at the park. When it was time to go, he was preoccupied by a very small snake he had spotted in a ditch filled with stagnant water. Naturally, I told him to stay away from it. But he described it to me (it had hidden all but its head under the murky water by the time I came over), and had determined it was not venomous. So we left the park and went home.

A few hours later, I was in the backyard with the little two picking odd sprouts of grass among our growing sod. Suddenly, my finger was on fire. I mean the kind of stinging pain that sends shock waves throughout the rest of your body. Some little weed I’d plucked had stung me. I quickly went inside where my son was researching on the computer.

“I need you to come tell me what this plant is. It stung me bad!

“Is it a stinging nettle?” he calmly asked.

“I have no idea, but it definitely stings!” So he came out with me to examine the offending plant I had pulled.

“That is a stinging nettle. They can be eaten, you know. They are actually very nutritious. People eat them and also use them in teas.” He said this quite matter of factly as I picked it up with a paper towel.

At my request, he very kindly looked about the yard for any more stinging nettles, lest a baby find them first and suffer the same agony I had.

While my finger throbbed and burned for hours, I thought about his reading comprehension abilities. He may never test as smart as he truly is, but he can most definitely apply what he reads. And that, as far as I’m concerned, is more valuable!

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6 responses to “Reading Comprehension: More Useful When Applied than Tested

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