Having a child who has difficulty learning to read can be challenging. Not only do you and your child have to struggle with the actual teaching and learning of reading, but you may also have a number of questions, such as:
- Is my child just a late bloomer?
- Should I seek help?
- What methods should I use to best teach my child?
- Do I need an official diagnosis?
- If I want to seek an official diagnosis, where do I go for help?
Here are some resources that can help you discern the answers to those questions.
I am a huge fan of the Homeschooling with Dyslexia website (https://homeschoolingwithdyslexia.com/) and I encourage any homeschooler concerned about her child’s reading to begin there. The founder of that website, Marianne Sunderland, recently published No More School: Meeting the Educational Needs of Kids with Dyslexia and Language-Based Learning Difficulties. I ordered a copy the day it was released, and quickly devoured it.
In No More School, Sunderland shares her own homeschooling journey teaching seven dyslexic children (dyslexia is frequently hereditary). She offers the information you need to know about diagnosing language-based learning difficulties, but she also emphasizes the strengths that children and adults with dyslexia often have, such as creativity and strong interpersonal skills. She emphasizes that “intelligence is so much more than school performance” and that “success in life is not determined by an arbitrary measurement based on what lots of other kids can do.”
Sunderland discusses how the traditional school system often fails dyslexic learners. “For our children who struggle inside the box of traditional education, we have no other choice than to rethink education. Either we will continue pounding our ‘square pegs’ into round holes until they break, or we will look for a system of learning that accommodates square pegs.” She then goes on to explain how we can meet our children’s educational needs in our homeschool, specifically by using an Orton-Gillingham approach (I personally always recommend All About Reading and All About Spelling which I have used for years). One fact I found interesting and which explained so much in terms of working with my own struggling reader is that while it may take 7-10 exposures for a traditional learner to master something, kids with language-based learning difficulties can take 10 times that. Children with dyslexia often don’t learn to read fluently until ages 12 or 13.
No More School is a practical guide to homeschooling a child with dyslexia. If you have a child who struggles with reading, I highly recommend purchasing this book!
One of the books referenced in No More School is Overcoming Dyslexia by Dr. Sally Shaywitz, the Codirector of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity. Dr. Shaywitz has done a great deal over the years to help the educational community understand dyslexia and advocating for individuals with dyslexia. However, this is a very school-centered book. There is a great deal of doom and gloom in this book about how children will be behind forever if they can’t read fluently by fourth grade. While this may be true in a traditional classroom, reading this as a homeschooler only served to increase my anxiety. If you are planning to have your child transition into a traditional school system or are looking down the road at college plans, this book does have some helpful information about advocacy in those situations. Dr. Shaywitz does do a good job of illustrating that individuals with dyslexia can be successful in academic environments in any discipline that they choose provided that they have the appropriate support and accommodations.
Another source of information and support for homeschoolers is the HSLDA Special Needs Website. If you are a member of HSLDA, which I encourage homeschoolers to join, you can speak with a consultant who can help you with your particular concerns.
Your local homeschool community can also help you. Don’t be afraid to tap into the wisdom of other homeschoolers, especially those who live near you. Many homeschoolers have students with special needs and will be happy to offer support or to direct you to resources in your community that can be of help.
Your dyslexic child can thrive in your homeschool, but you may need some extra information and support. These resources can help you and your child be more successful!
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