We all have our ups and downs while homeschooling our kids. It’s normal to get frustrated, tired or even overwhelmed. Homeschooling isn’t easy. When you have a child with a learning disability it can make your task even more difficult.
Most of us are not trained to teach special education. We may have various degrees, but few homeschooling parents were once special education teachers. Still, as our children’s teachers, we are left to make sure all our children are learning and advancing. Having a learning disabled child can make this process seem almost impossible.
My son Garrett, who is 14, is dyslexic. He also suffers from both short and long term memory loss. Teaching at times is overwhelming for both him and me. Through the years we have found some teaching and learning methods that have helped him progress in his studies.
First, what is dyslexia? Dyslexia literally means difficulty with words. It most typically is thought of as difficulty with reading but it encompasses more than this. Children with dyslexia may have problems not only with reading but with writing/copying words, spacing words, letter reversals, sequencing errors or visual perception defects (words move or appear out of focus) among other issues. All of these issues can give rise to problems with learning to read.
So how do we teach a child who is dyslexic?
Simply put the best way to help a child learn who is dyslexic is through trial and error. Ultimately our efforts should be aimed at helping our child figure out how he learns best and what he can do to overcome his given difficulties. Often this takes trying many, many learning techniques. Most importantly it takes time.
I thought I might share some techniques that might be helpful. Some of have worked for us and others have not. However, what didn’t work for us just might work for you.
- Start by working on projects/assignments you know your child can accomplish. This helps with raising his confidence – something that is often lacking in learning disabled children.
- Read aloud
- Read with a buddy
- Read with a highlighter in hand (or colored pens). Highlight difficult words. Go back later to review.
- Rewrite what has been read
- Work in small, short lessons
- Read while listening to the book on tape
- Tape your child while he is reading
- Use multi-sensory teaching methods: write in shaving cream, cut out sandpaper letters, use playdoh to write, use stamps to spell out words, use mud, spell or read to music, use hand songs or actions… anything that uses a sense other than just sight.
- Allow your child to answer questions orally
- Create an award system
- Choose unorthodox reading material (a cereal box, the t.v. guide, a comic book, an article online)
- Keep a record of your child’s progress so he can see just how far he’s come
- Provide positive encouragement
Teaching a child with dyslexia can be difficult but it doesn’t have to be impossible. It can take a lot of trial and error to find what works best for your child. The goal is to help your child become an independent learner. It take time but as homeschoolers we are able to take as much time as is needed to figure out how to best help our children learn.
Michelle is a mother to 9 children including her dyslexic son Garrett. To read more about their family check her out at her blog Pass The Flu Bug Please.
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