Homeschooling Students with Writing DisabilitiesPosted In Homeschool Assistance | Posted By Kristy Robins
What are common learning disorders that affect writing?
Dyslexia is a common learning disability. About 3 million people in the United States are diagnosed with dyslexia every year, and anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of Americans have dyslexia. Having dyslexia makes it more challenging to learn to read and write and can even affect a student’s ability to do math problems.
Then there’s dysgraphia which is a neurological language disorder that can create reading and writing difficulties for students. These disorders make it harder to convert sounds (phonemes) into letters (graphemes). Luckily, there are many strategies and interventions that homeschool teachers can use to help students overcome both types of disorders, but we’re going to focus on dyslexia since it’s more common in children.
With homeschooling, the teacher can provide more flexibility of pacing and individualized support than in a traditional classroom. With the right strategies and accommodations, most children can overcome their learning disorders to become skilled readers and writers.
What are common signs of dyslexia in children?
Children can begin showing signs and symptoms of dyslexia in the preschool years. Early signs may include slow language acquisition and difficulty remembering the names of letters, colors, and numbers. By the time children with dyslexia get to elementary school, the symptoms are more noticeable and bothersome.
As a dyslexic child begins his or her first reading and writing assignments in school, parents and or teachers may observe that the child:
- Works very slowly on assignments that involve reading and/or writing
- Reads below the expected reading level for age group
- Struggles to spell and sound out words
- Has an aversion to written work and reading
- Has trouble remembering a sequence
- Has difficulty finding the right words to answer a question
- Has a hard time processing what he or she hears
Strategies for Helping a Child with Dyslexia at Home
While there is no cure for the brain differences that cause dyslexia, there are many strategies for helping homeschool learners become good readers and writers.
- Allow students with dyslexia to learn at a pace that is comfortable. It doesn’t help to rush them! Homeschooling makes it possible to create an individualized learning plan that cuts down on stress and feelings of shame that can occur when a dyslexic student can’t keep up with his or her peers.
- Be supportive. Dyslexia can affect a children’s self-esteem. Take every opportunity to build them up.
- Praise the child’s effort even when he or she seems to be progressing very slowly. It will take time to get results, but showing that you have faith in the process goes a long way in maintaining your child’s motivation.
- Allow access to audio books, voice-to-text tools, and word processors. These tools allow a dyslexic child to become more autonomous in his or her learning, which builds confidence.
- Teach according to the child’s preferred learning style whenever possible. There are many online quizzes available to help you determine how your student learns best. Use that information to create learning experiences that are tailored to his or her learning style.
- Practice reading and learning strategies that involve multiple senses. For instance, a child might touch each word while listening to an audio book or trace spelling words in shaving cream to create a tactile learning experience.
- Choose the right curriculum. Look for reading and writing curriculum that uses short and engaging lessons and provides modeling at every step. Graphic organizers are also a plus.
- Be flexible when it comes to spelling and grammar, especially when it comes to informal writing or first drafts. Praise the child for getting his or her thoughts on paper, even if there are errors present.
Can a Child with Dyslexia Succeed?
Yes, absolutely! With the right interventions and patience, your child can overcome dyslexia. Dyslexia does not affect the child’s intelligence. Let your child know that many people who struggled with dyslexia went on to do great things in life.
For instance, Thomas Edison was kicked out of school by his teacher, who said his brain was “addled.” Edison’s dyslexia made it difficult for him to learn through lecture and reading. He asked a lot of questions, which irritated his teacher. Once his mother took over his education and allowed him to learn in a more hands on style, he flourished and eventually became a great inventor.
When your child is feeling discouraged, it may help for him or her to learn about important historical figures and pop culture icons who have dyslexia. Choose from this list to gather inspiration and to help reinforce your child’s motivation to strive to do great things in life.
- Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist credited with developing the theory of relativity and winner of the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics
- Nicoli Tesla, scientist famous for his discoveries in electromagnetism and radio
- Steven Spielberg, great American film director
- Agatha Christie, best-selling fiction writer of all time, best known for her detective novels
- Leonardo da Vinci, the original “Renaissance Man,” known for his contributions in art, science, engineering, and literature
- Pablo Picasso, one of the greatest artists of the 20th century
- Richard Branson, highly successful entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Group, which currently controls 400 different companies representing a variety of fields
- Whoopi Goldberg, American actress whose claim to fame includes achieving the “grand slam” or EGOT (winning a Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony)
- Galileo Galilei, best known for his many important contributions to astronomy
- Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone
- Rex Ryan, NFL coach known for leading the Jets to back-to-back AFC championships
- Jennifer Aniston, actress best known for her role on Friends
- Tim Tebow, former Bronco’s quarterback famous for his fourth quarter comebacks
Homeschooling a Child with Dyslexia
Essentials in Writing is an excellent choice for students with dyslexia. EIW uses a systematic step-by-step approach that takes the stress out of writing. Mr. Stephens models each step of the writing process through engaging video lessons.
Writing activities are broken up over several days to avoid overwhelming the student. The workbook provides graphic organizers to help students with their planning and features large font that is helpful to students with dyslexia. And best of all, their customer service team is great about working with individual families to choose the level that corresponds to the child’s ability rather than his or her age.
If you try their level wizard and still aren’t sure which level is right for your child, give them a call. They’ll be glad to help!