Does your child have dyslexia? For those who are unaware, dyslexia is a form of learning disorder that affects your ability to read, spell, write and speak. Even famous Hollywood movie star Tom Cruise struggled with dyslexia while growing up. Afflicting an estimated 5% to 10% of people worldwide, this learning disorder is the main reason why homeschooling becomes the preferred choice for parents of such children. So, is homeschooling the best bet for kids with dyslexia? Fret not, as we have it all covered here.
Should you homeschool your dyslexic child?
Homeschooling is a big decision, and the fact that it’s outside of conventional wisdom makes it even harder to decide for or against it. Here are some steps to help you make a more informed decision:
- You have to do the necessary research and due diligence. For example, what is required by your state and district when dealing with homeschooling? Find out whether homeschooling suits your child before withdrawing them from regular school.
- Find out more about your child’s reading, spelling, writing, and comprehension abilities. For example, what are your child’s weaknesses and strengths when it comes to learning; and how to improve on that particular area as the day progresses. You might also need to find workarounds if the gap in learning is too big.
- You might want to consult an educational psychologist to help you to evaluate, understand and find out more about your child’s dyslexia. For example, a specific diagnosis of the severity of your child’s dyslexia, and from there decide which learning methods to use to ensure optimum learning experience for your child.
Each child has their own unique temperaments, abilities, and personalities so it’s best to tailor the teaching to their respective needs.
What are some of the things look out for?
The process of learning for a dyslexic child is indeed a difficult and challenging one. This is because a dyslexic child is not your regular child. There are many things that he or she may not be able to comprehend or fully understand. Even simple things like phonetics or ABCs may pose a challenge for them. For example, Tom Cruise claims in multiple high-profile interviews about how he used to read and write backwards due to dyslexia.
Parents of dyslexic children can use special learning techniques to help teach their children to understand better. For example, using multisensory approaches such as writing on a rough surface in the air, clapping syllables, and concentration on mouth positions unique to specific speech sounds are all beneficial for their learning process.
Parents should train their children to read aloud daily so that he or she can gain independent learning. Making a child read aloud a certain phrase or word can help parents to identify loopholes such as difficulties or struggles faced along the learning journey. But prior to that, parents need to review the passage just to make sure that the difficulty level of the reading material suits the skill level of the child. For example, try to single out challenging words from the passage and practice some warming up before moving on to the actual reading.
Benefits of homeschooling: Customization of learning at its best
Homeschooling allows you to customize your child’s learning materials to suit his or her specific needs. As mentioned above, each child has different levels of ability, goals, and temperaments. For example, a child may be adept in reading while the other may not do as well compared to the first, due to the latter being more skilled in math.
Also, it is to be taken into consideration that each child has their own goals or ambitions. Despite dyslexia being a learning disability, parents can still train their children to achieve their dreams. After all, nothing is impossible as even the late Helen Keller who lost her sight and hearing at merely 19 months old, managed to achieve a considerable amount of success during adulthood.
Efficient Identification Of Strengths and Weaknesses
In most public schools, the teachers there are not trained to handle dyslexia due to their inability to identify a child’s strengths and weaknesses. Compared to homeschooling, parents can have a better insight into their child’s learning rate through personal observation and involvement. For example, they can observe their child’s day-to-day progress and see whether he or she is doing well.
Also, parents can collaborate with a specialist for better learning efficiency. For example, both can work together to develop a customized learning program that is child-friendly, simple to understand, and as efficient as possible. As the lessons progress, this learning program could be modified as regularly as needed; suiting the current development and goals of a child.
Effective Content Focus For Optimum Learning Results
In public schools, the learning process is more focused on a curriculum-based structure rather than on the subject’s content. Homeschooling gives both parent and child the ability to focus on content, for example; English or Maths. This is because a good content focus is the basis of a good learning foundation. From there, parents can find out why their child is not progressing and adjust their teaching methods accordingly.
For more effective content focus, parents can ask their child to point out the paragraph structure on a book that they are stuck at or have difficulty learning. After that, parents can train their child to reread that particular paragraph structure repeatedly until they get it right. Some experts even recommend reading aloud in front of a mirror to give a child that extra boost of confidence so that he or she can progress at a faster rate.
Seeing the learning in action
Homeschooling is one of the best ways for parents to see their children in action. This is because parents get to experience first hand of all their child’s quirky moods, temperaments, and behaviors. For example, a child might have a different viewpoint when it comes to learning Mathematics as he or she is not good with numbers. Because of that, that child will throw tantrums or cry whenever they are faced with a difficulty. This is where parents can take fast action and adapt; all through finding ways to make the learning process fun, and tailor the teaching to fit the needs of the child.
Challenges When Homeschooling A Dyslexic Child: The Road Not Taken
Maintaining A Fair And Partial Learning Approach
Despite homeschooling being a preferred choice for parents of such students, however, there are still some challenges faced. The most obvious challenge a parent may face is to be aware of their own biases when maintaining the relationship between the teacher-parent and the student-child. This is because you may treat or discipline your child in a more lenient manner just because he or she is your offspring. For example, letting them off the hook easily even when they’re not finishing their homework on time.
Another challenge is that parents need to know what to teach to their children. This is not as easy as it seems since most homeschooling does not have a fixed curriculum. Due to that, parents who homeschool have to create a special curriculum to adhere to the child’s specific needs and goals which in return, may require lots of research and specialized training. This is a challenge since not every parent is trained to cater to such students. Also, finding the right resources is not easy as the learning materials found in regular schools do not comply with a dyslexic child’s needs. Being a parent is hard enough, now they have to also learn how to be a teacher.
Socialization And Fitting Into Society’s Needs
Some experts argue that homeschooling may hinder a child’s social development skills. This may be true since homeschooling is conducted between parent and child, thus this does not give a child the opportunity to make any friends. This might be bad for the child’s social life, and subsequently their mental health. For example, your child may become depressed or become more reclusive in the long term. Social activities are beneficial to a child’s personal development and growth. It affords your child the necessary environment to become a well-rounded individual who is not only book savvy, but also socially savvy.
Parents who homeschool may also find it difficult to do extra curricular activities for their children. For example, participation in social activities such as sports and various clubs; which requires tons of social interaction of a child with their peers.
The Need For Direct, Explicit Instruction
Compared to a regular child, students with dyslexia have a tougher time when dealing with the understanding of the language sound structure. For example, there is a need for direct and explicit instruction that is straightforward and doesn’t confuse them.
This direct instruction comes in the form of teacher modeling and explanation, a multi-sensory approach, and ongoing support. First developed by child education experts, this special learning technique is widely used to help students to build their language correspondence skills.
In a nutshell, homeschooling a child with dyslexia has its pros and cons. But to make the most out of it, you can start by gathering the best resources that you can find; via credible sources such as childhood education experts, or on similar websites found online. As the late Professor Stephen Hawking used to say,” However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.”