Setting Goals for Your Dyslexic Homeschooler

by | Aug 9, 2015 | Teaching Tips | 12 comments

Setting homeschool goals for kids with dyslexia is different than setting goals for traditional learners. Let’s take a new look at setting homeschool goals for students with dyslexia.

The first step in planning your homeschool year is usually to set some goals.  Setting goals for kids with dyslexia is a little different than setting goals for traditional learners.  What I’m going to teach you today will free you up from a lot of stress and dramatically simplify your homeschool planning.

Setting Homeschool Goals for Students With Dyslexia



A Word About Grade Levels and Being ‘Behind’

Before we get started, I’d like to discuss grade levels for a minute.  You know those ‘What Your 3rd Grader Needs to Know’ books?  They contain lists of what kids in each grade level are learning in public school.  Standardizing what kids will be taught each year is helpful so that kids aren’t studying early American History year after year and never getting to World History.  They give a structure and order to institutionalized school settings.

Graded curriculum are also based on what a typical child is able to do at each grade.  However, as many of you know, no two kids progress at the same rate and kids with dyslexia often progress slower in the younger years.

Grade Levels in the Homeschool

If you talk to a burned out homeschool parent of a dyslexic child (I talk to lots of them!) it is pretty common that their educational goals for their kids – goals to be at or above ‘grade level’ – are making them crazy.

It isn’t until they begin to move from an achievement mentality to a progress/mastery mentality they begin to find the freedom and enjoyment of homeschooling.

What do I mean by a progress/mastery mentality?

Most homeschoolers need to shed the ‘school-at-home’ mentality in order to create a home learning environment where their kids can thrive.  This is never more true than for the homeschool family teaching kids with dyslexia.

It wasn’t until my dyslexic husband observed this chasing of the wind in our own homeschool that I became aware of how ridiculous it actually was.  Keep it simple he would say.  If the only kind of book the 4th grader can read independently is Frog and Toad, let them read Frog and Toad!  Huh?  You mean let them learn at their own level?  How revolutionary!

It doesn’t really matter how much you, or any well-meaning family member, wants your child to be reading at his or her ‘grade level’.  If they aren’t able to do it – you have to teach them, faithfully, at their current level until they get there.

This translates to 5th graders doing 4th grade math or 1st grade reading or wherever they are able, and working towards mastery until they catch up.  Most kids with dyslexia will catch up with a combination of consistent teaching and appropriate methods by the middle school years.

Read more about homeschooling with dyslexia in middle school.

Studies have shown that it is much harder to learn in a stressful environment. Many dyslexic kids and adults already struggle with anxiety.  Creating a safe and relevant atmosphere for learning is the primary reason most of us homeschool anyway, right?

Setting Homeschool Goals for Your Child With Dyslexia

Now that we’ve cleared that up, here are my best tips for setting goals for your kids homeschool year.

1.  Grab a spiral notebook.  I just stocked up on these at the grocery store of all places.  Yay for back-to-school sales!  For our kids I have 3 primary areas for setting goals:  physical goals, academic goals and spiritual goals.  Fold one page of the notebook into thirds (or how ever many areas you’re setting goals for) and label each column.

goal setting 1

2.  Write down all of the goals that you have for your child. This is your brainstorming sheet.  Never mind that your 3rd grader is reading at a first grade level for now.  We know we are going to cover reading.  Write that down under Academic Goals.  We’ll talk about how to find time for reading instruction in my next post on Creating Homeschool Schedules That Really Work.  

goal setting homeschool dyslexia

Don’t be intimidated by the list. This is for my 7th grader and much more intense than my plans for our younger kids.

For now, we’re trying to flesh out all of those ideas that are swirling around in your head (and mine), capture them on paper and begin to organize them.  Disclaimer:  Just because you wrote something down here does not mean that it will be done every day or even at all.  Don’t stress just get your thoughts on paper!

3.  Make a list of daily tasks for each child.  Get out a clean sheet of paper in the same spiral binder.  This can include morning routine items like getting dressed, brushing teeth and feeding the chickens if you want.  I like to create set morning, afternoon and evening routines for all of my kids because I rely on them doing their chores to keep the house running.

setting goals homeschool

This list should also include academic subjects such as Bible, History, Science, Handwriting, Art – or whatever subjects you are covering this year.  Make a note, either with an asterisk or with a highlighter pen, next to everything academic that your child can do independently.  This is important for scheduling.  We want our kids to keep working as much as possible when mom is working with another child, making lunch or taking a bathroom break!

Lastly, add any classes, tutoring sessions, sports commitments, etc. to the list.

Take Some Time to Prioritize

Once you’re finished making lists for all of your kids, hopefully your head is no longer swimming and you can begin to take each goal and activity and begin to prioritize them.

Take some time to look over your lists.  Think carefully about each item and ask yourself:

How much value will this book/curriculum/assignment add?

Is it going to add enough value to be worth the time it will take to engage with?

The Truth About Homeschooling With Dyslexia

I’m going to be very honest with you about something.  Homeschooling kids with dyslexia is unique in its challenges.  For a season, your main priority is going to be teaching your kids to read, write and spell.  The length of this season varies from family to family and depends on how many kids you have, but during this time there may not be time to do much else on your list – and that is okay!

When I say that it is okay, here is what I mean.  You can only do so much and you have to give priority to what is the most important.  Letting go of things that are going to make you and your family crazy is necessary.  You will have time to fit in more of the extras in time.

One Activity You Can’t Live Without

We’ll talk more about integrating subjects like science, history and art in my next post on scheduling but I want to share with you one activity that should be a priority every day in your home.

The read aloud.

Reading aloud to your children has so many benefits – it is hard to count.  Let me list a few here:

  • creates a strong family bond
  • fosters a love of the written word, reading and books
  • encourages deep thought about a wide variety of issues
  • can teach character (with the right books, of course)
  • teaches vocabulary and complex sentence structure
  • gives children ideas to ponder throughout the day
  • teaches history, science and art in context

Some resources for finding the best books for reading aloud:

Some other great places online to find good free book lists:

Simply Charlotte Mason’s literature suggestions –great for all families, regardless of where your kids do school or what methods you use to to teach them

Ambleside Online –high quality recommendations, though you have to wade through the site to find them, as they are somewhat buried

1000 Good Books List

Storyformed Booklists

Okay, that is enough for one day!  Work on your lists and check back here tomorrow for my post on Creating a Homeschool Schedule That Really Works.  As always, if you have any questions or comments, drop us a note below!

Setting homeschool goals for kids with dyslexia is different than setting goals for traditional learners. Let's take a look at how you can set homeschool goals for students with dyslexia.


  1. Kristan

    Thank you!!!! I needed this today! I was feeling so overwhelmed starting our year again with two of my three kids below grade level. I was in a low place, feeling completely ill-equipped despite the fact that I know God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. This is the first year that I’ve been feeling so frustrated and disheartened. Thank you for the reminder!!! I’m going to get started working on my lists of goals and daily tasks. And then, I’ll pull out my Read for the Heart again! Thanks for the encouragement! Blessings!

    • marianne

      Kristan – I’m so glad that you found the post helpful.

  2. Shannon Wallace

    Marianne, this was the reassurance I needed. Thank you! I’ve slacked pretty bad on goal-setting. It seems that really all we get around to doing is Barton (which is an absolute), Life of Fred, plus read-alouds and our daily walks/runs. I felt in my heart that reading was just an absolute, and that it must come first in regards to academics. It has paid off. He is really starting to take off, and read his first chapter book about 2 weeks ago! It was so exciting to see the progress. 🙂 Thank you again!

    • Marianne

      I’m so glad to hear it Shannon! I struggled with this so much for so long. Looking back, I can see that my kids learned lots with just audio books, educational DVDs and playing. It is so awesome to watch them finally crack the code!

  3. Hilary Harrison

    Hi Marianne, I have just discovered your blog. What a relief to find it! I homeschool two children 7 and 9, my son who is 9 is dyslexic. I am a trained primary teacher – but I spend a lot of time floundering with him and although I try not to compare, I still feel under pressure when his peers are able to read and write so much more fluently than he is, and can’t help feeling the gap is going to continue to widen. It was a breath of relief to read your blog and I am now working my way through it… it really helps to know someone else in the same position. A lot of it is about not feeling guilty the whole time when things are a struggle. thanks very much. Hilary (Norfolk, UK)

  4. Marisa

    Oh wow, Mom my has told me for weeks to check out your blog. I’m so glad I finally did! The more I read about dyslexia the more i realize how much it has effected my life. My brain is wired totally different than that of my husbands. And our 7 children are JUST LIKE ME. We have taken what seems like forever to find the right book series for my 11 year old. He just finished his first chapter book 2 months ago and has since read several more from the series. Now it’s on to my 10 year old to get him reading on his own. So glad to know I’m not the only one who has let EVERYTHING else go but reading and writing for a time. Everyone looks at me like I’m crazy when I don’t do more with my kids, art, science, music, history. But I’m NOT A PUBLIC SCHOOL.

    The more I read on your blog, the more I get sucked in. Thank you for being a great resource! I just downloaded the book and I can’t wait to get started on it!

    • Marianne

      Hi Marisa! SO glad you’re finding the site helpful. And I hear you about doing nothing but reading and writing! It is a journey and it does get easier. 🙂

  5. Lindsay Cerchio

    Hello, thank you for this! I love your blog! This has been an overwhelming year ! My son has been dealing with lots of anxiety! I been mostly unschooling which was not the plan. Feeling like I can’t get it together. I want a do over!!! I want my kids to be excited about homeschooling . How much time do you suggest for each subject? I have a 7 and 9 yr old with possible dyslexia! Thank you for sharing all your knowledge. It truly helps

  6. Jenny B.

    This is so helpful for all types of homeschoolers. Curriculum options have been swirling in my head for a couple of weeks, and I’ve been struggling with whether to consider my son (11 years old / 6th grade) an elementary student or a middle school student. That distinction doesn’t really mean a whole lot, of course, but I’ve been wanting it to guide my curriculum choices — especially for Science. I had not thought to stop and make a list of GOALS. Such great advice. Thank you!

  7. Ann Kirkland

    Every year that my 13-year-old daughter has been in school I have struggled with whether we should be homeschooling her or sending her to public school. Now because of Covid and our district going to virtual schooling we are looking into homeschooling seriously for the first time. Thank you for all of your guidance!

    • Marianne

      You’re welcome!! You are definitely not alone!!

  8. Tracy

    I tried homeschooling at K5 and first grade (my son is now 10) then decided that we would try a specialized school that works with kids one on one. Even the school that specializes in Dyslexia wouldn’t take him as he was so far behind and due to his executive function. As you can imagine it is costing a great deal of money for the one-on-one school. They are using the Wilson program and we have not progressed in reading in the last 2 years, I am thinking about homeschooling again. I was told by my child’s psychologist that part of the reason that my son is so far behind is because he didn’t have a full day of schooling. At that time we may have done 3-4 hours of classroom time. What do you recommend in way of class room learning time? I also work from home and would like to be able to have some time just being a family.


Submit a Comment

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