Michelle Duggar: Don't Call My Children "Reading-Challenged"!

The Duggar family.

In her latest blog for TLC (also posted on the family’s website), Michelle Duggar reveals something about her husband and children that may come as a surprise to her fans: Some of them struggle with learning disabilities.

It was when she was first married to Jim Bob that Michelle realized he faced challenges. As a child, he had speech difficulties, and when they read the Bible together, “He would literally flip words around and put different words in different places,” she blogs.

Now that she’s a mom of 19 who homeschools most of her children, Michelle has discovered that some of her young ones have similar issues with reading. When she used her phonics program, “for some of the kids it would take me three times of going through it because they just didn’t catch it the first time, and then the second time,” she writes. “And finally the third time they’d grasp the concept.” She also notes that at least one of her children had a tendency to write in mirror images.

But Michelle credits homeschooling with helping all her children reach their fullest potential. “I think if they had been in a public school setting, they could have been labeled as reading-challenged,” she explains. “But because they were being tutored one-on-one with me, I was able to work with them and not pressure them.”

The Duggar method is to work at each child’s pace and trust that eventually, each of them will become proficient at reading, math and other subjects. “Different kids blossom at different times,” she emphasizes. “I didn’t focus on and fret about the age that the kids were able to read by, whether it was sheet music or reading lessons.”

But the family isn’t hesitant to get professional help when the situation calls for it. Michelle and Jim Bob have enlisted the expertise of friends who are speech therapists to work with the children who have trouble expressing themselves clearly.

Most of all, the Duggars make sure to tell each child that having a learning disability isn’t the same as being “dumb” and to give examples of successful people who also had trouble in school. “I’ve learned by teaching 19 children that each one is so different, and to not to expect them all to do the same things at the same time or to do them exactly the same way either,” says Michelle.

Other parents of children who struggle in school may envy Michelle’s patience, her ability to take charge of her family’s schooling and her emphasis on encouraging their strengths. If she really is so effective in helping her kids excel in spite of their challenges, maybe she should consider a new career once her youngest children are more independent. The public school system needs all the good teachers it can get.

[Photo: courtesy TLC]

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