If you’re like me and thought that the Classical Conversations homeschool co-op was just too rigorous for your child with dyslexia, think again.
Our family has two years of the elementary program, Foundations and Essentials, under our belts and are still loving it. To learn more about the Classical Conversations Foundations and Essentials program and how it has worked with our kids with dyslexia, read this post.
Challenge A and Dyslexia
This year, we will be branching out into the middle school Challenge program, specifically Challenge A, for 7th grade. Because we started Classical Conversations (CC) late, we opted to have our dyslexic daughter stay back from Challenge A last year in 7th grade, complete another year (her 2nd) of Foundations and Essentials, and begin Challenge A in her 8th grade year. (Lots of kids do this by the way.)
We chose to do this because we wanted to give her the advantage of another year of writing, grammar and memory work. Before even beginning Challenge, we are seeing the fruit of this choice as she has been previewing her Latin homework and already has memorized the noun declensions. This previous knowledge will make learning the next layer of Latin information that much easier.
This is one example of why I like the CC program so much. The information is layered with the end goal in mind. Everything builds on itself as you continue through the later years of the program.
Accommodations and Modifications for the Dyslexic Challenge A Student
Our CC path is strewn with other families homeschooling their own dyslexic kids. In fact, there will be three students with dyslexia in our daughter’s Challenge A class this year! Last week I spoke with a few moms with dyslexic kids who have been through the Challenge A (and B, I, II and now III) program with success. They shared with me how they handled the accommodations and modifications for their kids. I searched the Internet high and low several years ago for this kind of information to no avail. That is why I’m so happy to share this with you today.
Latin is probably one of the most intimidating subjects in the CC curriculum. It is important to note that Challenge A students will move slowly through the Latin texts (Henle First Year & Grammar), only completing about a third of the text this year. In Challenge B, they will start at the beginning moving more quickly through the material and cover about two-thirds of the books. In Challenge I, the kids will start again at the beginning and work their way through the entire text. Key take away: mastery is not the objective in Challenge A. Exposure, practice and acquiring the discipline to study Latin daily can easily be your child’s main goals.
Latin accommodations and modifications
- Both moms allowed some of the weekly work to be completed orally, depending on what else was going on that week.
- While the program recommends that students create their own flashcards, one mom whose son had no Foundations and Essentials experience (and has a profound dyslexia) printed the flashcards from the Quizlet app.
- Quizlet is an AWESOME study tool for students with dyslexia.
- Some days the kids are assigned 20+ sentences to translate. One way both moms scaled this back for their kids with dyslexia was to assign only odd or even problems or to have the child complete the translations orally.
- Neither parent had their kids translate from English into Latin. Latin is primarily used for translating ancient text into English and so is a skill that is not nearly as valuable as translating from Latin to English.
- Both moms also stressed the importance of drilling their flashcards daily.
The focus of Challenge A is to learn how to write a compelling persuasive essay using the Lost Tools of Writing (LTW) curriculum. Topics are chosen based on assigned literature.
Composition accommodations and modifications
- Both moms I spoke with highly encouraged the use of audio books. Audible has most of the books and Learning Ally has some that even Audible doesn’t have. You can purchase a Learning Ally is subscription right now through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op for only $77.95. This is a 42% savings. If you need a referral for Learning Ally audio books, see this post. For more information on how to synch Audible books with Amazon eBooks to enjoy Immersion Reading, read this post.
- LTW starts slow. Be sure to watch the online videos provided by LTW and remember that there are samples of each essay the kids will write in the back of the LTW Teacher Guide.
By the end of Challenge A, students will practice drawing the world by memory including states, territories, capitals, major waterways and mountain ranges. Not all kids are able to learn everything in Geography, dyslexic or not. It is important to note that every student will come away with a certain amount of knowledge – very likely more knowledge than the majority of the population – so don’t sweat it!
Geography accommodations and modifications
- While tracing maps is discouraged by CC in general, both moms I interviewed allowed tracing at least for the first day to build muscle memory.
- Consistency is a must. Practice drawing every day.
- Use the free online Geography games at Sheppard Software to learn countries and capitals. Have your kids play the games 2 or 3 times each day.
- Be sure to print up flashcards to learn the geography terms and review them daily.
Science consists of students completing their own research on a topic relating to Natural Science and then Biology and presenting their research to the class with illustrations. Most dyslexic kids didn’t struggle with science in Challenge A. Know that your child will progress dramatically throughout the year. One student wrote only several sentences for their first science research presentation.
Science accommodations and modifications
- Decrease the number of facts for the key word outline.
- Decrease or do not assign the written report.
- Allow your child to read their report for their presentation.
- Reduce the number of terms to be researched.
- Reduce items to be labeled on the anatomy drawings.
- Label the blackline drawing of the anatomy system instead of drawing and labeling the system.
Two general topics are discussed during Challenge A: thinking and speaking truthfully and a comparison of evolution vs. intelligent design. Students are assigned weekly reading, outlining, and summarizing of key ideas and arguments and will be asked to memorize a series of catechism-style questions and answers about science and Creation.
Rhetoric accommodations and modifications
Both moms I spoke with suggested reading It Couldn’t Just Happen (first semester) and The Fallacy Detective (second semester) out loud with your kids. I was super excited to hear this because I had planned on reading them aloud with all of our kids during our morning time.
- Be sure to print up the catechism questions and answers on flash cards and review daily.
- Math during class, also referred to as seminar, is a discussion of math topics and mental math exercises.
- Classical Conversations recommends Saxon 8/7 and uses sample problems from that curriculum each week for discussion. It is okay to use a different math curriculum.
- Practice math facts at home.
- I’m sending my daughter with her multiplication chart and factor chart (a total Godsend). Not sure if she’ll need them or even be able to use them but they are an accommodation we make at home.
- One parent I talked to had their son do no math during the school year to give him more time to focus on CC. He did his math all summer.
- A more moderate accommodation would be to only do math three days a week instead of four.
- There are a variety of suggestions for ways to scale assignments in the Challenge A Guide. Scaling is expected, at least some of the time.
- Start with the goal of doing every assignment from each subject for a set time – maybe the first 8 weeks until the first break. This shows the student that they are indeed capable of doing the work. Then begin to scale back the required work to meet your child’s needs.
- Front load your homework. By setting aside the first two days after seminar to get a lot of the weekly assignments finished, your student will be left with a sense of accomplishment and have an extra margin of time should something unexpected come up.
- Be sure to talk with your child’s Challenge A tutor or director when you tailor assignments.
Whew! That was a big post.
How about you? How have you tailored or scaled back during the Challenge years with your dyslexic student?