Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dyslexia, Another Curveball in Homeschooling

When you start homeschooling, you have pictures in your mind of how it's supposed to be. We all do it. With just about anything worth while. We imagine the perfect marriage when we're engaged, perfect parenting experience when we're pregnant, perfect houses when we are in an appartment, and perfect jobs when we are creating a resumé and going to interviews. Most of this speculating is due to lack of experience and knowledge, or the knowledge we have will not apply to our own situation.

So, pretty much every curveball I have been thrown as a parent thus far, took me by surprise. Can you imagine? I was not prepared for any of them. Not in the handbook. When my first child took to school and reading like a duck in a pond (except for his challenge with ADD) I was a little surprised when my next student, the Queen, struggled quite a bit. She could not memorize simple things like, numbers, and number facts. I would use the same flashcards I had used with my son, but she would be in tears after 20 minutes, as she could never remember the number names. She was learning to read, but struggled with it. It was not until I saw a card she made for her daddy on Father's Day, wherein the entire sentence she wrote "Happy Father's Day Daddy" word for word, was backwards, that I thought we might need to look into the possibility of Dyslexia.

I started asking around and found an awesome mom in our homeschool support group who had several children who were dyslexic. She pointed me to a curriculum called Barton Reading and Spelling which was created by a woman named Susan Barton. Susan had her own career but was distraught over her nephew's struggle to survive in school. He was failing everything and no one seemed to be able to help him. She dropped everything, started doing her own research, and tutored her nephew up to grade level reading, and had so much success she now helps students with Dyslexia full-time. I went to their website and watched all of her free videos, several hours worth, about Dyslexia. I was amazed at how much my daughter seemed to follow all of the precursors and signs. There was the most obvious one, which was that it runs in the family, her grandfather is dyslexic. She skipped crawling almost entirely and was a late walker (developemental delays, or "skipping" steps, was named as a possible precursor somewhere, but I can't find it on their site now). She had speech problems even from the beginning, little expressions which we just dismissed as her cute idiosyncrasies, and some stuttering. She never could get her"lefts" and her "rights", and never did get the "rhyming" thing.

The homeschooling mom I mentioned, Maria, offered to have us come over, and try her curriculum out, and eventually ended up tutoring my daughter in her home on a weekly basis. For a while, it seemed like she would never get it. The writing/spelling aspect of it was particularly difficult for her. But one day, Maria came out of the bedroom and said, "I don't know what happened, but something has clicked with her, we've made a breakthrough." She (Maria) and I both looked at each other, and there were tears in our eyes. She of all people, knew what it was to worry about and struggle with teaching a child who was dyslexic. I am so grateful for her help in jumpstarting us, and so grateful for the Barton program.

My daughter has grown leaps and bounds, educationally, since then. She still forgets to use her spelling rules and checks sometimes. She still hates to write, but can do it pretty well. Our Seton program has allowed us to adjust her work so that she can learn at her own pace and ability, and while school is still difficult for her at times, she is doing very well.

Dyslexics are known for their strengths as well, and my girl is no exception. She is very intuitive, beyond her age. She is disciplined. She is creative, artistic, and imaginative. But one of the greatest thing she has learned, I think, is compassion for her siblings when they struggle with school.

The biggest lesson I have learned through all of it (and will continue to) is that God really does care about our needs, and hears prayers. I spent much time in prayer, in tears, asking God to help me, help her. And in his time, he did.
Dyslexia, Another Curveball in Homeschooling

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