The Power of the Pencil

Earlier this school year, we got the news that Milo is showing signs of dyslexia. After a school assessment, the dyslexia was confirmed, and we are going down the path of getting a more thorough evaluation. I’ll write about that in more detail when I know more.


Homework is hard for Milo (and us). He charms. He stalls. He eats. He pitches fits. He does everything he can think of to avoid sitting, pencil in hand, facing the blank worksheet. This battle makes more sense now, knowing he has a learning disability. But what is hard about it — getting started? Facing the struggle? Making mistakes?

Last night, I think we got to the heart of the matter. I gave Milo a very special pencil: the Palomino Blacking 602. I explained that this was a pencil used by artists, writers and architects, which got him instantly excited. Then I showed him the special replaceable eraser. "Why do think the people who use this pencil need to replace their erasers all the time?” I asked him. And he said, “Because they have to erase a lot?” “That’s right,” I said. “When you are an artist or an architect, you have to be okay with making a lot of mistakes.” I could see this idea settle in, and we both smiled.

I am not saying a pencil is the answer to the struggles he will face. But if he can be brave enough to make mistakes, erase them and try again, he’s off to a decent start.