You Can Do It!
Congratulations on choosing to homeschool your child with dyslexia! It is going to be a wonderful journey. Are you wondering how it is different from regular homeschooling? It isn’t too different, just a few extra tweaks. On today’s post, I am going to share with you my strategies, tips and special activities that will help you and your kids on this amazing journey.
Build Your Child’s Phonemic Awareness
Children with dyslexia need lots and lots of phonemic awareness activities. What does this mean? Phonemic awareness is the ability to identify and manipulate the individual speech sounds into spoken words. For example the word cat has three sounds – /c/, /a/ and /t/. The word nest has four sounds – /n/, /e/, /s/, /t/. Kids with dyslexia often drop or add sounds when spelling or reading words so it is really important for your child to isolate each individual sound. Here are some activities you can work on when homeschooling with dyslexia:
Identify rhymes – “Tell me all of the words you know that rhyme with the word “bat.”
Listening for sounds – “Close your eyes as I read some words to you. When you hear the “t” sound, raise your hand. “
Manipulating sounds in words by adding, deleting or substituting – “in the word LAND, change the L to H. (hand). Or… Say the word last. Can you change the /a/ to /i/? “ (list)
Separate syllables – “How many syllables does the word candy have? Say each syllable.”
Listening for beginning, middle and ending sounds – “What sound do you hear at the end of the word mask?” (k)
If you want to dive deeper into this, please feel free to read the following posts:
Use Multisensory Techniques
Multisensory means having your child hear it, say it, touch it and move during every lesson. Why is this so effective for your child? Kids with dyslexia need to learn in a different way. By using multisensory materials and activities you are giving your child an opportunity for the information you are teaching them to “stick.”
Using all of your child’s senses, engages their entire body along with their brain. This way they make a memory that lasts and stays with them. The more senses you have your child use, the stronger this memory will be. Here are a few multisensory strategies that you can try out:
- Have your child write words with a squeeze-style ketchup bottle, shaving cream or chocolate pudding (ooh messy fun).
- Use trays filled with salt or sand and have your child write words or skills in these.
- Build words with wooden letters, blocks, legos or puzzle pieces.
- Have your child write on their palm, use arm tapping, or you can have your child spell words while at the same time doing a jumping jack or bouncing a ball.
- Take a walk in the neighborhood and read the world. There are letters and signs everywhere.
- Go to the grocery store and read the entire store.
- When teaching specific skills, use letter tiles and flashcards.
Use the Right Curriculum
While there are many really great reading and phonics programs in the homeschool market, most of these are not geared towards children with dyslexia. The best choice is an Orton-Gillingham program. Orton-Gillingham is a really structured, step-by-step, repetitive and multisensory approach. This means that when the kids are learning to read, they learn each skill individually. They see it, say it, hear it and move with it. They also practice it over and over again until it really “sticks.” Orton-Gillingham is proven in research to be the most effective reading program out there for children with dyslexia.
Here is the best and easiest Orton-Gillingham homeschool curriculum that is heavily scripted out so that you will not need any formal Orton-Gillingham training and you can just follow the script:
Use a Lot of Practice and Repetition
This is the best part about homeschooling a child with dyslexia because your child is going to get to take their time, work through the programs slowly and at their own rate and accomplish what they need – which is a lot of repetition and practice. I really can’t stress this enough. A child with dyslexia requires overlearning to achieve mastery. If you are using the heavily scripted out Orton-Gillingham reading program that I mentioned above, then you will practice this repetition with your child. Let’s use an example. You are teaching the letter combination ea that makes a long a sound like in the word steak:
- Your child will see a picture of a steak and the child will say “ea –long a – steak.”
- Your child will write the ea in the air 3 times while saying it aloud.
- Your child will practice at least 3 phonemic activities with the ea (like the ones I mentioned above).
- Your child will arm tap, palm write, write the ea in shaving cream, sand, etc.
- Your child will write 10 words with the ea that you dictate to them (great, break, wear, bear, etc.).
- Your child will read a list of words with ea and underline the ea as they read.
- Your child will read sentences with the ea.
- Your child will read an entire decodable text highlighting the ea.
(This could take 3-4 days of you teaching just this one skill)
After all this, when your child finally goes to the next skill in Orton-Gillingham (which is the ar skill), you still get to keep repeating and reviewing the ea.
Ok, so does this sound to you like overlearning? Yes, I know that it does, but all I can say is that it works.
Read And Learn About Dyslexia
You will be able to homeschool your child the best if you do your research. This means learning about dyslexia, what it is and how best to help your child.
My favorite book to read is, Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz.
Because your child needs to learn a different way and needs much more individualized attention, practice and repetition, homeschooling is really such a great option. You just need to make sure when homeschooling with dyslexia that you teach phonemic awareness, use lots of multisensory materials and activities in your teaching, use the right curriculum, be patient and take your time, and offer lots of positive encouragement and support. You can do it!
Good luck and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns about homeschooling with dyslexia. I would love to help you.
Thank you for reading my post today!
Karina Richland, M.A., is the author of the PRIDE Reading Program, a multisensory Orton-Gillingham reading, writing and comprehension curriculum that is available worldwide for parents, tutors, teachers and homeschoolers of struggling readers. Karina has an extensive background in working with students of all ages and various learning modalities. She has spent many years researching learning differences and differentiated teaching practices. You can reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at www.pridereadingprogram.com