As I was working on my new book, No More School: Meeting the Educational Needs of Kids With Dyslexia and Language-Based Learning Difficulties, I realized that there are stages we go through as parents homeschooling a child (or children) with dyslexia. As I share my story of going from confused, to overwhelmed, to desperate, to peace, I brain-dumped these stages.
The following is an excerpt from my new book, No More School:
Why can’t you pay attention? What is wrong with you?! I blasted at my 6-year-old son. I could see the frustration in his eyes but I was SO DONE! How many times did I need to teach the same thing?! Why could he tell me every dinosaur’s name and characteristics but not remember how to read the word ‘the’? And that after being taught 100 trillion times, or so it felt at the time.
If this story sounds familiar to you, you are in the right place. Teaching smart but struggling students can be confusing and therefore, overwhelming. At least that is until you make a few changes to the way you look at educating them.
This book was born out of a lifetime of teaching my 7 outside the box learners. I started out just like the story above recalls. Trying the same thing over and over again. Not realizing that there were other ways to teach. Discounting their strengths as cute but not important or real learning. (Not many paleontologist jobs out there despite my son being a mini dinosaur expert.) Not appreciating how hard my kids were actually trying. Yes, I went on to berate my other kids until I learned a few very important things. Things that I am thrilled to be sharing with you in this book.
You see, when my oldest son was diagnosed with dyslexia at 7-years-old, I had no idea that there were smart people that struggled to learn to read.
Learning differences and different ways of being smart had quite literally never come up on my radar.
Until I started homeschooling my kids.
The 10 Stages I Went Through as I Homeschooled my Kids With Dyslexia
Blissful ignorance. I hesitate to call this one a stage since it only lasts 15 minutes or until your child misreads ‘the’ for the 50th time. Nonetheless, we are blissfully unaware that this strange occurrence is a real thing that will likely continue to take place for the 1000 or so other sight words they need to learn.
Self-doubt. If this is your first go-round with homeschooling a child with dyslexia, you’ll pretty much immediately begin to doubt that you’re cut out to teach your kids at home. After all, Linda’s 3-year-old is reading the entire Harry Potter series already! Oh comparison, how I loathe you!
The hunt for a better curriculum. Oh yes, or more specifically, the hunt for a better reading program. Look, this one has games! Oh, but this one has been used by an actress. Hey wait, this says my child will read in 100 easy lessons! Followed by listing said curriculum on eBay and continuing the search.
The hunt for a miracle cure. This stage comes once we realize that the circus, otherwise known as our daily reading lesson, is exhausting. Supplements? Glasses? Brain games? The more expensive the better because they must have stumbled upon that one thing that no one else has discovered yet. Or not.
Pulling out the big guns: going in for testing or assessment. This is where we get serious and ask for help. Who even knows what the heck is going on anymore? Just as a woman who is 9 1/2 months pregnant is happy to go into labor just to not be pregnant anymore, you’ll pay anything just to know what is going on!
Fear and excitement. Getting a diagnosis and or a peek into the strengths and weaknesses (ie. normal IQ and low processing speeds, etc) brings fear, as in “How will my child succeed in life?” and a little excitement as in, “At least I now know what to type into Google.”
Researching like the FBI. Now that we know the terms, auditory processing, dyslexia, working memory, executive function, Orton-Gillingham, structured literacy, we’re up until 2:00 am nightly learning everything we can so we can help our kids.
Trial and error. A little bit of hands-on learning and a little bit of Orton-Gillingham. The pendulum swings as we try one thing, then another to see what combination of methods works best with our smart but struggling kids.
Consistency with understanding. By this time your child is reading and actually pretty happy. Looking back, you realize that the recipe for success was consistently doing your best and being encouraging, believing in your child despite their difficulties.
Your kids grow up and don’t live under a bridge. Hands up if you actually thought this at some point? My ‘bridge experience’ came while helping my profoundly dyslexic son write a comparison essay on the differences between love in a Shakespeare play and the Bible. That one nearly did me in folks! BTW, that kid is wildly successful now and writes his own million-dollar business proposals.
What do you think? Have you gone through any of these stages? What stage would you add?
Would you like support to get from confusion to confidence?
I started a community for just this! It’s called Beyond the Box Learning and we’re having a ton of fun over there. With monthly Master Classes (this month’s Master Class is on inspiring kids to be internally motivated) Success Stories, Books Clubs, Live Chats, and more, it is the perfect place to learn and grow with like-minded parents throughout the year. Click here or on the image below to learn more and sign up!