Monday, March 12, 2007

Homeschooling and Dyslexia

In response to my recent Catholic Exchange column on dyslexia, I received the following email. The sender gave her permission to reprint here:

Dear Maureen,

I have a nine year old daughter who is the fifth of my six children whom are all homeschooled. She is dyslexic, with a written expression disorder and has dysgraphia. We have based most of our curriculum on Seton Home study materials. I was told my daughter will not learn well from a workbook. She did learn to read last year with the Lindemood Bell program It is an excellent program but way to expensive for us to continue. I need to find material that I can give to her to work with on her own at her own pace. She is an eager learner but gets frustrated with me when I try to instruct her. I want to homeschool but don't know how to!? Any suggestions you can offer to me is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Very frustrated but a willing heart,

Here is my response to the writer. (Note: I'm not a special needs expert, just a mom sharing personal experience.)

I'm not sure that a dyslexic child could work on her own. My son didn't take off reading until he was ten, after two years of intensive one-on-one, multi-sensory, reading lessons with me. We only spent 20 or so minutes a day as that is as long as I could keep his attention. But we did it every day consistently (including through the summer).

I'm not sure either how you could do it inexpensively. I'm the queen of thrift and I'm also the queen of 'here's a book kids, go learn!' But, with a learning disability that's a difficult approach at best.

I'm not familiar with Seton's structure, but I do understand that they do have good learning disability counseling. And I hear the Lindendwood Bell program is good.

I took a class from someone trained by the Orton Gillingham Society. It cost about $200 for the class and materials. More money than I had to spare, but you do what you have to do.

They are right in saying that dyslexic kids can't learn from workbooks, however, you can supplement with workbooks. I found the MCP phonics workbooks to be horribly useless with my dyslexic children (I also have a daughter who struggled). What I recommend is the Explode the Code workbooks for supplemental material.

It's also good to have lots of very simple readers for practice. You want to keep them simple as you don't want to discourage her. Bob Books are great and you may find them at the library. Also good are the Little Stories for Little Folks from Catholic Heritage Curricula and Little Angel Readers from Stone Tablet Press. We even made our own homemade readers. Plus, the library will have other readers.

If you really can't afford these materials, your last option is looking into services provided by your local public school.

The most important thing to do is to read aloud to your child!!! Since you have older children, get them involved. They can read aloud, give instruction, listen to her read, etc.

I hope this is helpful.

If you have any additional advice for the letter writer, please leave a comment. It's always good to hear from more than one source.


Simple Faith and Life said...

Even though my child has a different learning difficulty (limited vision, from the age of nine), I think there is a similarity, in terms of working with the child. I needed to re-teach my child to read with magnification, as well as how to read using Braille (which I was learning right along with him). In working one-on-one with me on a daily basis, especially in the beginning he often experienced (and expressed) great frustration; but the sense of accomplishment he has gained has more than made up for it! I wish you the same happy result in your own mission.

Renee said...

I've heard very good things about LindaMood. A neighbor in Korea used it with her dd. Please reconsider spending the money if this is working for your daughter; reading is such an important skill to have.
Also know that as a former ps special ed teacher, I believe you can do a better job teaching your child than the school system. You have more opportunity to work one-on-one with your child. Even in special ed, kids don't get much one-on-one.
If you want to continue to work through Seton then I would recommend you speak with their special needs counselor; my understanding is that they will make the material work for the child (or use different materials).

Anonymous said...

I would suggest using the Wilson Language System. It's based on Orton Gillingham and it's super easy for parents to learn. Good luck!

Melissa said...

I've used the Sonday System for my dyslexic child. It isn't cheap...around $300, but it is non-consumable and it has all of the lessons set up for the parent. It has done wonders for his reading and writing abilities and most importantly his confidence. I second all of Maureen's ideas for reading material as this is what we use.
Also, I agree that when you have a dyslexic child it does take alot more parent interaction. I try to balance the things I do with him with some things he can do on his own, even if it is handwriting, draw write now books, or his math-u-see lesson. This gives me a little time to work with my younger kids.

Anne said...

Hi my daughter has just started Lindamood Bell and I could really use some support from other parents who have already experienced good or bad results from the process. We are just finishing week 2 and progress is minimal at this stage.