This is my 25th year of homeschooling my outside-the-box, bright-but-struggling, dyslexic kids. I created this site to help other families who are homeschooling their kids with dyslexia who are not so far along the path. I often think back to my early years of homeschooling to help me remember the important lessons I’ve learned that can help others. Here are a few things I wish I had known before I started homeschooling my kids with dyslexia.
I wish I’d known more about dyslexia.
For many years, I did not understand how my kids with dyslexia learned at all. I had a habit of getting frustrated with my kids for things they really couldn’t help, things that looked like laziness or like they weren’t paying attention.
For example, when I taught my kids some concept or rule one day and then they promptly forgot it the next. I know now that this really has nothing to do with laziness and everything to do with how kids with memory and processing weaknesses process information.
I know that my reaction hurt my kids. The truth is that they were trying to remember. Now that I understand dyslexia, I’ve apologized to my kids. They’ve forgiven me and moved on but, I wish I’d known more about dyslexia when I started homeschooling!
To learn more about the myths about dyslexia, read this.
I wish I didn’t focus so much on keeping up with grade levels.
That was just a recipe for disaster! The truth is that, though our kids with dyslexia are not lacking in intelligence, they do learn at a different pace.
Most kids with dyslexia will learn to read independently somewhere between 9-12 years old. All of my kids have learned to read, even despite my lack of knowledge in the early years!
These days I teach my kids at their level and focus on mastery. They all get to grade levels eventually and learn to read independently in their own unique time frame!
I wish I had spent more time enjoying learning things that interested them and saved rote learning for the older years when they were ready for it. Did you know that research has shown that a child can learn all math concepts from K-6 in about 20 hours once they are ready and interested? 20 hours folks!
If you’re worried about your child being ‘behind’, read this article, “Help! My Homeschooler is Behind”
I kept switching curricula instead of using accommodations.
I mistakenly believed that dictating a paper to mom or listening to an audiobook instead of ‘eye reading’ was cheating. NOT TRUE!
We need accommodations to help our kids work and learn to their intellectual ability. If our 10-year old is reading at 1st-grade level (which happens all the time) they need to have access to audiobooks with the vocabulary and complex sentence structures that meet their intellectual needs while still working on decoding at their ability level.
Accommodations are the very thing that helps our kids continue to learn other aspects of language arts even though they aren’t able to read it yet or to progress through a math curriculum despite not knowing their math facts.
Read this for more ideas for effective accommodations.
I didn’t appreciate the power of interest-led learning.
One of the benefits of homeschooling is that our kids have plenty of time to pursue their interests. This has led to all kinds of amazing learning opportunities for our kids over the years. It’s not uncommon for our kids to excel at business, farming, mechanics, art, theater, music, etc.
In my early years, I looked at these pursuits as ‘extra’ or ‘not school’. NOT TRUE. For all of my kids who have graduated from high school, those interests have led to their present career paths. Allowing and encouraging our kids to follow their interests is a BIG part of homeschooling and should happily and confidently be given time.
Read more about how interest-led learning can breathe life into your homeschool, here.
I was so happy to find this site. I am using the All About Reading Program for our daughter who we found our recently has dyslexia and struggles with reading and writing. We are struggling to get her an official diagnosis but are trying to help her to feel like she is accomplishing something with her learning in the meantime. I am finding the homeschooling is helping her a bit at a time as she needed the one on one time to insure she was comprehending everything. thank you so much !!
Hi Rene. I’m so glad you found the site! Homeschooling really does work well with struggling learners. They can progress at their own rate and without the pressure of keeping up. Here is a post I wrote about testing FYI: https://homeschoolingwithdyslexia.com/homeschooling-with-dyslexia-get-testing/
Perfect; i learned these same lessons! I also wish I’d deepened my understanding early on that PLAY IS LEARNING. My son and I both got happier when I started to connect the dots between skills he was developing in play and the “academic” skills I was trying to get him to do. All that time creating narratives for action figures and dressing up and pretending to be superheroes was an absolutely essential part of learning to read and write (and screw spelling). It is the foundation of his current success in life. Our enemy is not dyslexia. It’s discouragement.
Thank you so super much for this reminder Marianne!❤️ It reminds me that it’s ok that I’m teaching 3rd grade grammar and 6th grade math to my 10 yr old with autism and processing disorders. It reminds me that sometimes, her dictating essay prompt responses to me, while watching me write them on the white board, then she copy them onto her paper is okay; she’s speaking, hearing, seeing and feeling that pencil on the rough surface as she writes: multi-sensory learning. It reminds me that when she leads me in which subject she wants to tackle first, that my being flexible in our schedule provides her with greater opportunity for success because she is choosing to learn. It reminds me that in her passion led learning, we can incorporate science, math, grammar, literature, and art all into 1 topic: horses. You are my breath of fresh air that no matter what doubts I may have or what fears may rattle me from time to time, this is real learning and it is good. Much love to you and your family❤️
This is beautiful Cindy!
God bless you, Marianne. Your love for your children, your tenacity and powers of observation benefited your own children and all the rest of us as well. Thank you for sharing what you learn!
I appreciate this site, as a 74 year old grandmother, and retired school teacher, at times I just get overwhelmed with the ALL I think I need to be doing. After getting our youngest granddaughter, (7 years old) tested for Dyslexia by Dr. Kelly Haws, Minnesota Dyslexia Specialist, at St. Cloud University, she introduced us to Learning Ally, an audio book resource. Our granddaughter loves to choose a book to listen to. Her sister who’s 10 year enjoys listening to. This is helping both of them learn to read with expression and confidence. I’m finding Dr. Susan Barton’s method for Dyslexia especially helpful.
I’m curious if you have any links to the research you referenced in the article>
“Did you know that research has shown that a child can learn all math concepts from K-6 in about 20 hours once they are ready and interested? 20 hours folks!”
I need that information and encouragement!
Hi Jessica. I read it in the book Unschooled. It is based on findings at the Sudbury School in Scottland. It is an unschooling program that uses no curriculum unless the child is interested. Pretty extreme but they found that when kids were older (middle school and above) they could learn elementary subjects easily and quickly. Hope this helps!
First I have a question! My frustration is now that we homeschool and the pandemic in full swing, how do you deal with social isolation? How do I prevent depression? My student who is severely dyslexic was a very popular student. I would take him to school and you could hear people saying his name everywhere. Hi Wyatt. Everyone loved him.
Wyatt has always had a speech problem where he doesn’t speak correctly. It didn’t effect the amount of friends he had but I knew someday it would. I brought it up at IEP meeting and a speech pathologist added to his IEP. I’ll tell you right now it did him no good. I had to fight with her on to concentrate on his communication skills but a class sit in showed me she used 11 minutes out of the 30 minutes a week speech therapy to actually teach him sentence structure. Then she missed 7 sessions of an IEP meeting and had I not found out by accident no one was going to tell me.
At the beginning of 6th grade his peers started teasing him about his speech and his once best friends were stand offish. Even some of the parents acted like Wyatt was not a good friend for their child any longer.
Wyatt told me his wish a few days ago. “I wish I was popular like I used to be” It breaks my heart. I do my best to fill his void time with games and experiments but I can’t take the place of a best friend. We are his grandparents so he is the only child in this house. We recently got him the kitten he has wanted even though we didn’t want a cat. Any ideas?
My homeschooler has 1% working memory. We once referred to it as short term memory. It is where he processes information given to him, so that he can carry out the instructions. I would tell him to hang up his coat and backpack and put his shoes by the door. I would find him playing in his room. His backpack on the floor beside his coat and his shoes somewhere in the hall. I had given him too many things to do and he couldn’t remember any of them after hang up your coat. Too much information and he couldn’t recall any of it.
After being tested and I learned more about his disabilities I discovered I was 100% correct that he is dyslexic. His lack of working memory prevented him from the ability to process more than 1 bit of information at a time. This is common in most Dyslexic children. If your child can know something one day and forget the next this is common. The worst part of all of this is the child’s psychological trauma your child suffers when dealing with this disorder while attending school. My student was left behind from first grade to 6th grade when I finally took him out of school.
I had attended every IEP meeting and would offer my personal input on his needs. I was promised he was getting what he needed. The school knew they weren’t fulfilling his needs. There was no way they could slow the class down to accommodate my student. The school insists on the least restrictive environment which is a snow job. It just means he will sit in a regular classroom and have no clue what’s going on. He was just getting further behind and mentally giving up on the idea that he could learn anything. It took away his drive to learn and the hope of being like the other kids.
It is frustrating knowing the school knew he was falling behind but told me he was doing fine. The school will back the school first and the student last. I long for the good old days when you could feel confident knowing your child would get everything they needed because the school would see to it. Isn’t that their job? Aren’t they the professionals? It’s not that way today.
Thank you for your comment Shirley. Honestly, the situation you are describing is exactly why we choose to homeschool. You can accommodate and remediate your child as you choose. As far as social interactions, homeschool groups are abundant and full of fun classes, field trips, sports, and clubs for kids. Good luck mama!!
Excellent suggestions, thank you! I agree about the interest led learning, it worked wonderfully with my older children. My youngest is a moody teenager who doesn’t like anything (well, except for video games and hanging out with his friends…) I’ve tried all sorts of suggestions, but it’s no to everything. Any suggestions? Thanks!
That is so common and can be tricky. First, I try to give positive attention to video games. Ask them what they like about it. Ask them to show you parts of it. Showing an interest helps them feel less defensive and shows us as parents a glimpse of what their interests are. Use the ideas from his favorite video games for learning throughout the week. Research his favorite game – write about it – read about it – draw it. Whatever you think will engage him. I do set boundaries with screen time. My kids dislike it but it is necessary. I have a son who would play all day if I let him!