From the moment we learn we are expecting a child, our minds and hearts overflow with hopes and dreams for them. My child will be the most beautiful, brilliant, talented little person that has ever walked the earth, right? And they are for each of us!
But sometimes we discover that there is a “problem”. The last thing we want to admit is that something is wrong or wrong with our child. It’s a difficult thing. Not that we love them any less! But let’s face it, we’d rather sit with other moms and share how our 4-year-old can read a chapter book, multiply by 6, and paint by 7 like Rembrandt. Not to mention that they are also on their way to the Olympiad in two different sports. Or at least it seems so if you’re the one silently listening to all the accomplishments of other people’s children!
So, let’s get a few things straight… Most likely, these other moms are exaggerating a bit! And your child is not missing anything! Even if your child has a learning disability. She or he simply learns differently than the mainstream! And really, that’s kind of cool!
However, I didn’t always feel that way. After struggling to get my daughter to read for 3 years with little progress I became quite frustrated and so did she. Every lesson ended in tears and some days began with tears at the mere mention of reading. She had always loved books and reading aloud and was looking forward to learning to read for herself. So why was it such a fight? Was I just a bad teacher? Was she too easily distracted and not motivated enough?
We finally decided to have the tests done at the age of 7. I had noticed many letter and word inversions in reading, writing, and math. She complained of headaches and eyestrain while reading (and an eye test revealed she had 20/20 vision). I had to know what was holding us back. I knew she was extremely intelligent in many ways, but we hit a brick wall. Since we teach at home, we decided to have her tested by a private therapist. It took us 4 hours to finish and when we finished we were told that she had visual and auditory processing disorders.
I then went into mommy research mode! And as I read and searched the internet and the library I became more and more confused and overwhelmed! There didn’t seem to be a book or website that was really helpful, and the ones I found seemed to tell me different things! We have opted for vision therapy, which of course is not covered by insurance, are any of us surprised? But we felt it was worth a try and worth the money. In therapy, she worked to relearn phonetics with A Time for Phonics. We also did assigned therapy at home. After 6 months it was finished and I could definitely see a huge improvement! We didn’t do listening therapy with the therapist due to cost reasons, but I did use an at-home program called Earobics. I also found the book The Out of Sync Child and When the Brain Can’t Hear very helpful.
My search continued to find other ways to help her learn in a way that suited her learning style. You see, processing disorders and dyslexia don’t have to be an obstacle! There are so many ways to learn. The point at which I realized this was when I happened upon a book by Ben Foss, The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan. I encourage everyone to read it! Check out his website too! I hate the word accommodation. It sounds like you need extra or special help, like you’re allowed to cheat. There should be no shame in learning differently. Find out what your child’s strengths are and use those skills. Don’t focus on the standard way most children are taught to read. I was so incredibly grateful that we chose homeschooling because my daughter didn’t need to compare herself to others or be labeled in any way. But even if your child goes to public or private school, remember that your child is not broken, but the system can be. Make sure your child has the resources they need to excel and feel connected.
What resources can you use? Ah, there are so many! Here I was overwhelmed! I will list some of the sources that I thought were the best. But look around more and explore the options available!
-Audio books are your friend! Don’t fall behind on studying because you can’t read the material fast enough! If your child learns well by listening, give Audible a try. Amazon also has audiobooks, and so does your local library.
-A read focus card. You can make your own or buy one. Also, try printing your pages on yellow paper, or try colors other than the usual white.
– Use a text to speech app like Speak It or Talk to Me and also a speech to text app like Dragon Dictation. Another helpful app is Prizmo, users can scan any type of text document and have the program read it aloud, which can be of great help for those who are struggling with reading.
-I love Snapwords for learning Sitewords! There’s now an app for Snapwords too!
-Fonts and background colors: software regularly used in schools, such as B. Microsoft Word, is a good source for fonts and background colors. Changing the background color to green, for example, can help with reading, as can wearing green glasses. Scripts can also enable reading and comprehension; Teachers can download free special fonts like OpenDyslexic which are free and run on Microsoft software.
-All About Spelling, this curriculum is great for all kids, but the multi-sensory approach based on the Orton Gillingham methods clicked with my daughter! We haven’t tried All About Reading but I’d bet it’s a good option.
– We used Rocket Phonics after we finished vision therapy. It was developed by a dyslexic and it’s fun! There are plenty of games and interesting stories to read, not the usual boring books that are your typical light read.
-Math was as much a struggle for us as reading. Memorizing facts is a challenge. I found a math program that uses association learning and uses fact and process mnemonics called Semple Math.
-Hands on! Use clay, paint, blocks, magnets, etc. to practice letters, spelling and sounds. Learn to write letters correctly in sand with your index finger first, and then move on to writing with a pencil. make it fun Use all your senses!
-Play games! Some we have used and enjoy are Sum Swamp, What’s Gnu?, Scrabble, Very Silly Sentences, Boggle Jr., even card games like Addition War (lay out two cards at a time and add them up) or Alphabet Go Fish (you have to say the letter sounds ), search Pinterest and the web for fun games to practice math facts and letter sounds or spelling and sight words. Even when your child is older, there are practical ideas that are fun and multi-sensory
Moms (and dads), I’m writing this to give you some starting points. And just to let you know that you are not alone! I know it can be disappointing at first to learn that your child is struggling in any way. But it can also feel like a load has been lifted to know how your child is learning and that there are ways to help and empower your little one. I know if you’re in a school, you need to explain to your child why they might be in a special class or take exams differently than the other kids. You need to trust that you know how to talk to your child. There are books for children that talk about dyslexia and learning problems in a positive light, such as Does it matter? By Henry Winkler (yes, Fonzie from Happy Days!)
Try to highlight his/her strengths and tendencies and don’t just focus on his/her weaknesses and difficulties. Remind your child that while they can learn, they learn in a unique way, and that’s okay! We are all unique and have our own strengths and weaknesses. Love your child for who they are and hopefully they find the right tools to skyrocket their learning!
I never thought I would see the day when my daughter’s favorite pastime was reading! Chin up, keep plugging in, loosen up and have fun and love ’em no matter what!
Thanks to Sally W Lane | #learning #isnt #easy