We’re just about midway through the school year. All of the fun of planning and purchasing of curriculum (why is that so fun?) has passed and we’ve been feeding off of a steady diet of stark reality. Homeschooling is hard. Homeschooling with dyslexia is even harder.
If you were raised and educated in a traditional school setting as I was, our default method for teaching our kids, despite the enormous amount of freedom that we have as homeschoolers, is to teach how we were taught. The trouble with this is that most teachers and text books teach with a method that does not work well with dyslexic learners.
So what methods do work with dyslexic learners?
Right Brains and Left Brains
Most dyslexic learners are right-brain dominant. To understand this you need to know a little bit about brain structure.
The brain is made up of two halves or hemispheres – the right brain and the left brain. These are connected to each other by a thick cable of nerves at the base of each brain called the corpus collosum. A good analogy is that of two separate, incredibly fast and immensely powerful computers, each running different programs from the same input, connected by a network cable.
Most scientists agree that there are definite differences in the way each hemisphere of the brain works. Essentially, the right brain deals with emotions, feelings, creativity, and intuition. The left brain is linear, logical, and focuses on one thing at a time.
|LEFT BRAIN FUNCTIONS||RIGHT BRAIN FUNCTIONS|
|uses logic||uses feeling|
|detail oriented||“big picture” oriented|
|facts rule||imagination rules|
|words & language||symbols & images|
|math & science||philosophy & religion|
|order/pattern perception||spatial perception|
|knows object name||knows object function|
|reality based||fantasy based|
|forms strategies||presents possibilities|
Think back to the methods that your school used, or that you may be using with your kids. Read the text, understand, answer the questions. If you were a let-brained student like me, you loved this (and may have become a teacher or curriculum writer). Just tell me how many pages to do, ma’am! If you were a right-brained student, you likely struggled to learn and got out of school as fast as possible!
Right Brain Teaching Techniques
For a teaching method to work with a right-brained learner, it helps if those methods tap into the right-brained thinker’s natural strengths:
- Use visual resources such as white board or chalkboard
- Doing subjects together in a group with lots of discussion
- In lieu of writing a paper, let students create a project (poster, comic strip, write a movie review instead of a report, etc)
- Play music during study time
- Use color and pictures on flash cards to get spelling or vocabulary words to stick
Understanding Learning Styles
Learning style is a broad term used to describe the factors that influence all aspects of learning. You may have heard the common, simplified view of learning styles as a choice of either the auditory, visual or kinesthetic pathway. While all people use every one of these pathways for learning; most people prefer one over the other. There are many factors that affect a person’s ability to learn.
Knowing the learning style of your student is important in determining how to teach them so they learn. To learn more about learning styles, read this post from my 10-part series on Homeschooling With Dyslexia: Understanding Learning Styles.
That’s All Great But How Do You Teach Math?
I’m glad that you asked.
In this series, I’ll be tackling each subject that we teach and share how we teach them in our houseful of dyslexics.
Teaching kids with dyslexia doesn’t need to be fraught with frustration once parents realize how dyslexics learn and apply those methods in a positive environment.
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