A Common Problem With Homeschooling Dyslexic Kids

by | May 21, 2024 | Encouragement | 1 comment

I was meeting with a local homeschool mama recently. We’ve been meeting periodically to talk about her dyslexic son’s learning and the best ways to individualize his education to meet his needs.

The truth is, individualizing a child’s learning environment to meet their unique learning needs is one of the best reasons to homes school a child with dyslexia.

However, our conversation perfectly illustrated a common problem I hear about all the time from parents who are homeschooling their dyslexic kids.

one problem homeschooling with dyslexia and how to fix it

How did your year go?

Not great. 

I mean he’s happier and more relaxed but he’s still not reading well. In fact, she whispers, he’s not even interested in reading. And he’s 11 years old!

I felt like forcing him to do reading lessons was just making this worse, so I backed off and didn’t teach reading at all. 

He’s struggling with math too.

He did start a little business though. He researched lawn mowers and saved money to buy a good quality one. He’s been cutting lawns for friends and family and started to build a client list.

I guess it’s not all bad though. Since we took a break from academics, his confidence is growing and our relationship is easier.

I hear stories like this all the time. When parents adjust their teaching to meet their kids’ emotional needs, the kids often thrive emotionally and relationally and with the extra time and confidence, often discover an interest or ability that excites them.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had conversations like this. Like the mom whose 14-year-old son who still struggled to read but was eagerly helping his dad rebuild the engine on their tractor. He was super confident with mechanical jobs and had a depth and breadth of knowledge unlike most adults.

The Problem With Homeschooling Kids With Dyslexia

So while many parents are offering their kids a meaningful, individualized learning environment; one that meets their real needs, there is also a strong tendency to focus on the negative, on what isn’t getting done.

Thinking about things like reading levels, math progress, and comparing this to traditional learners of the same age can be HARD!

I get it. Homeschooling is a big responsibility. 

Some of us started homeschooling because the traditional schools let us down and we think we can do a better job (spoiler alert, you can) but then we compare what our kids are accomplishing to what the kids at school are doing or even to other homeschoolers teaching more traditional learners are accomplishing and we feel like a failure.

Although it can be hard, I strongly discourage you from comparing your kids’ academic learning to that of traditional learners. There is a reason traditional methods aren’t as effective with kids who learn differently. For many of us, that is why we homeschool; so we can give our kids the kids of individualized education they need.

Common ways to individualize learning in your homeschool

  1. Delay certain academics if they are causing extreme distress. This could be for a few days, a week, or longer.
  2. Modify curriculum so that kids can work at their intellectual ability despite their weaknesses with reading, writing, and spelling. This is done mainly with accommodations and assistive technology.
  3. Taking time to deschool which is formally taking a break from academic subjects for a time to establish confidence, relationship, and an enjoyment of learning.
  4. Unschooling: facilitating a child’s learning by allowing them to pursue their interests.

One thing I’ve noticed over my many years of homeschooling is that while my kids may struggle with learning to read, write, and spell, they always excelled at something. 

Whether that was music, sports, drama, animal care, starting a business, solving problems, strong social skills etc…

Having the extra time afforded to them through homeschooling, which necessarily cuts out extra, busy-types of work – more like being taught by a tutor – allows them to pursue interests, grow their natural abilities, and learn to read when they’re ready.

I’m telling you, after homeschooling outside the box kids for almost 30 years, your kids will be okay. They will learn to read and write and they will find their purpose as you lead them day by day.

The Truth About Homeschooling Kids With Dyslexia

The reality of homeschooling kids with dyslexia is that:

  1. It is an excellent way to provide the individualized education they need, and
  2. It can cause parents to feel like a failure at times if they compare themselves to traditional families.

Have you backed off on academics in your homeschool? Has your child found and pursued a special interest? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Get the support you need to structure an individualized homeschool program for your outside the box learners and feel more confident throughout the year. Join my online mentoring group.

1 Comment

  1. AJ

    This is excellent advice of course, but at what point do you just insist that they learn to read or write? I waited, took a break from painful spelling lessons and reading classes, and suddenly my child took up reading with gusto. Win! Spelling…not so much. Writing…no way Mom. He is becoming more capable now, and at some point he needs to learn to write for academic subjects. Should I persist even when he resists? Is there a corner you can turn?


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *