Homeschooling dyslexic kids can be difficult. Homeschooling all kids can be difficult at times but homeschooling dyslexic kids comes with its own set of struggles. Using accommodations during these struggles is one the greatest advantages to homeschooling kids with dyslexia.
What Are Accommodations?
Accommodations are changes that you make to how you teach an assignment or how a student completes an assignment so that a particular weakness can be accommodated or allowed for.
Examples of accommodations are allowing a student to listen to an audio version of a reading assignment or allowing a child with dysgraphia to dictate a writing assignment. Kids with learning differences aren’t the only ones who receive accommodations. If a child has a broken arm, they may be allowed to dictate a paper. If a child is blind, no one would expect them to read without the accommodation of books written in Braille. Likewise, kids with learning differences should receive accommodations so that they too can perform to their best ability.
Accommodations in Real Life
I’d like to give you an example of how we used accommodations on the fly this week in our homeschool. Our 5th and 6th graders take a writing class using the Institute for Excellence in Writing curriculum.
We were working on the girls’ writing assignment for this week which was to read two paragraphs on Benjamin Franklin, make a key word outline for each paragraph and then fuse them together into one key word outline, essentially combining the information to write one paragraph with the most important information.
I could tell that my dyslexic daughter was really struggling. Her ADD makes tedious work like this very difficult. She prefers to move and do, to sitting and thinking. She just isn’t a print learner. However, at her age it is important to me to teach her these skills and so we persevere.
In order to fuse both outlines, the girls had to choose which 3 key words of the 6 total key words from each line of the outline were important enough to be included on the final outline. There was no right or wrong way to do this. However, looking at 2 outlines and focusing on those 2 lines of text among 14 lines of text was overwhelming. I grabbed a piece of paper, wrote all 6 words on it and tore them out into 6 pieces. I laid these pieces out before her and had her pick up one word at at time. She was to look at the word and decide if it was important enough to choose for one of the most important 3 words.
By separating them so that she could read them one at a time, manipulate them by putting them in groups and quickly changing the words around without writing, she was able, with some guidance, to choose the most important 3 words. We did this for each of the topics in her paper and, with practice, she became more fluent with the idea and was able to work independently. Making accommodations for her learning style made it possible for her to complete the assignment.
A Note About Accommodations
Accommodations make a way for a student who is struggling to complete the assignment. It is the same assignment but taught slightly differently. I know from much experience that hands-on and multi sensory methods work well with dyslexic learners. This is different from a modification to an assignment. A modification would be to change the assignment in some way perhaps by not requiring certain steps or in our writing example, using only one paragraph and not fusing the two.
There are many ways to accommodate for the dyslexic learning style. Read this post for more information on Accommodations and Remediations and this post for more examples of the most effective accommodations for students with dyslexia.