Teaching reading to kids with dyslexia, especially a houseful of kids with dyslexia, can seem to take all day. Here are my top tips for getting more done and making time for some extras.
We’ve all been there. We’ve done the research, purchased the curriculum, and prepped for the day’s reading lessons. We’re rocking the explicit, multi-sensory, and individualized reading instruction. Our kids are learning and we are thrilled. Then we glance at the clock on the kitchen microwave as we reheat our 3rd cup of coffee only to realize that it’s 3:30! The house is a mess, dinner is still a mystery, and there has been only a haphazard and minimal amount of math, science, history or ‘extra’ learning done all day long. What’s a mama to do?
What to do When Teaching Reading Takes ALL Day!
If you’re new here, you may not know that I am the mother of 8 kids, 7 with dyslexia. When I talk about time management struggles, I know what I’m talking about! In fact, now that our youngest is seven, I am seeing a HUGE difference in our daily routine. You can get so much more done when there aren’t toddlers flushing things down the toilet! Which leads me to tip #1:
This is a season.
The season of having a house full of young kids, with multiple kids needing individualized, one-on-one reading instruction is a season that really will end! I often encourage homeschooling parents that having reasonable expectations is at least 50% of our daily battle. Yes, there is a lot to do. Yes, you need to prioritize reading instruction, and yes, your schedule doesn’t look like that of any of your homeschooling friends! This is simply how it is. It is a season. One day your youngest will be seven and you will be encouraging another mama not so far along her journey – like me!
I mentioned this briefly in tip #1 above. Research is pretty clear on the benefits of early intervention in the lives of kids with dyslexia. 74% of third graders who are struggling to read still struggle into adulthood. On the other hand, studies where at-risk kids received early intervention show that 95% of them did not fall behind their peers and that they experienced fewer emotional struggles. The idea that your child is a late bloomer, although comforting for a worried mama, is usually not the case. Yes, you will occasionally hear about a child who couldn’t read and then, all of a sudden, was able to read chapter books when they turned 8 or 9. That is usually NOT the case. So, reading instruction (the right kid of reading instruction) needs to be happening at least 3 times a week in your home. This is your priority for this season in your life.
I’ll spell it out clearly here (because, if you’re like me, you need this). Prioritizing reading instruction for your houseful of dyslexic kids (dyslexia is genetic after all) means that you may not have time for a lot of extra activities like sports, music, clubs etc. Notice that I said a lot of extra activities – not any extra activities. All kids should be allowed the freedom to explore their interests. You will just need to choose wisely and, for this season, minimally. Every time a guilty or dissatisfied thought about this schedule choice enters your head, take it captive to the thought that you are doing your child the best service by prioritizing their reading. Sometimes, as the famous French philosopher said, good things are actually the enemy of the best things.
Once you’ve made the basic mindset shifts outlined in the first few tips, there are a few more practical things you can do to get more done during your school days. Outsourcing is one of them. Consider ways that you can get help teaching your kids. This could be in the form of a co-op or class once a week for the extras or hiring a tutor. We have had fantastic success with both math and reading tutors. While parents are capable of teaching their kids with dyslexia to read using research-based reading methods, there are 3 reasons I recommend hiring a certified dyslexia tutor.
3 Reasons to Hire a Dyslexia Tutor
- you are unable to consistently tutor your child at least 3 times per week
- your child isn’t making significant progress under your teaching
- you have an older child who is struggling to read that needs to get caught up fast
One downside to hiring tutors or taking classes is that you often have to leave home to access them. Leaving home on a school day can majorly disturb the flow of a daily routine as well as taking up precious school time. One way to sidestep this disturbance is to use computerized programs or online classes. This is one reason why our family LOVES Teaching Textbooks for math. You can read my full review of Teaching Textbooks here.
Other excellent online programs for kids with dyslexia are:
- Reading Horizons online Orton-Gillingham reading. Read my review here.
- Nessy Reading and Spelling. Read my review here.
- Teaching Textbooks for math. Read my review here.
While reading and math need to be highly individualized, subjects like history, science, literature, and the arts can be done as a group with all of your kids. Allow younger kids to build with Legos or blocks, draw, color, or play with PlayDoh as you read out loud or along side you as you do a hands on experiment. Aim for the ability of the middle aged child and adjust slightly for older or younger kids.
Children are amazingly capable people. Harness some of that endless energy. Six-year-olds can keep an eye on the baby in the bouncy seat while the 10-year-old reads to the toddler. Older kids can prepare meals and help with housekeeping. There is no way that you can homeschool your kids, cook, clean and drive everyone to their outside activities without help. One of the best things I’ve done as a busy homeschool mom is to learn to delegate!
This option isn’t for everybody, but at different times during our homeschool journey, getting up earlier has given us the added time we needed to take care of a wide variety of things: an older kids’ math, writing or other assignment, blogging (for me!), prepping dinner and starting laundry, etc. I did not do this while I had infants or during illnesses etc. so no pressure and no guilt. I know families who have an opposite schedule and stay up late to finish school. Find whatever works for your family!
How about you? What tips do you have for getting more done?