A learning disability is when a student has a “glitch” in the way he learns. The student is of average or higher intellect and may even be gifted in some area. He is receiving appropriate and consistent instruction in a particular subject but struggles daily and seems to just not “get it”. There may be visual or auditory processing problems that prevent the student from utilizing what he learns. This child’s brain is likely wired differently and he may struggle with this disability the rest of his life.
But you can help by choosing a program to remediate the problem or by teaching the student how to compensate. I have personally used all of the resources listed below to help my own children and other students that I’ve worked with. None of the resources are magic but when used diligently and consistently they work. Working with a child who has a learning disability requires patience, understanding, and lots of love. The more you know about how your child learns, the better you will understand how to help him.
Most children are going to have days when they complain about school. But when it becomes a daily experience and it’s about every subject, Mom should start asking why. Begin by looking at other areas of your student’s life. Does your child complain about chores, constantly disagree with his siblings, and generally have a bad attitude? Maybe this is a discipline problem and school needs to take a backseat while the two of you work on your relationship. Or it could be a conflict between your teaching style and your child’s learning style. If you think there is indeed a learning problem, the resources below will help you figure it out.
Dr. Jerome Rosner offers advice in his book to help parents determine not only IF a child has a learning problem, but also what the problem might be and how to remedy it. Dr. Rosner’s book is not a silver bullet for parents, but he does take you logically through a process that will provide you with understanding and encouragement. This book contains simple tests for both auditory and visual perception problems, and it also includes simple, inexpensive methods for improving your child’s learning ability. Note: Make sure you read both the preface and the introduction as both contain helpful information.
From Home School Legal Defense Association, a great, free website for diagnosing and understanding struggling learners. This site covers most learning disabilities and provides lots of diagnostic checklists and resource suggestions.
Gifted by Chris Davis, a homeschool pioneer. I’ve known Chris and his family almost as long as I’ve been homeschooling. He and his wife homeschooled three awesome young men into adulthood in a very unconventional way. His ideas about homeschooling (or life-schooling, as he’s recently calling it) should be a “must read” for all homeschool parents, but especially for those who have a student that doesn’t quite “fit the mold”. The blogs stored on his website are full of helpful advice for any parent who’s struggling to teach their child. I suggest you start with http://homeschoolingwisdom.com/2015/10/ – Are We Ready to Do Something Else?
First, it is common for little boys (and sometimes even girls) to find it difficult to sit still and enjoy formal schooling. That doesn’t mean you can’t find other ways to provide educational experiences that they would benefit from. Some children really do need an extra year or more to mature before they are ready for textbooks and worksheets. But many perfectly normal children are diagnosed and medicated just so they can sit still in a school classroom.
That said, attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) is real and can be frustrating for parents in many ways. A child with ADHD will struggle with more than school. Other than being more active than other kids you know, he may be hyper-attentive when something interests him, may get upset when changing from one activity to another, may complain about waiting for his or her turn, and may be distracted by every little sound he or she hears.
There are two basic ways to deal with ADHD and each family will need to determine what works best for them.
- One is to accept the fact that you have an active, easily distracted child on your hands and modify your education to meet his needs. This is easier for families when mom or dad are also ADHD. You might also consider natural ways to help your little one such as removing junk food and sugar from his diet.
- The other way is to work with your pediatrician to find a medication that will calm your little one without any unnecessary side effects. This will be an ongoing process and should only be done if there are benefits to the child as well as the parents.
There are numerous books available about ADHD – too many to review them all. The two books below can at least get you started. They are both written by authors who are respected in their fields but have different points of view.
Thomas Armstrong is a prolific writer of books that address neurodiversity, both as it applies to school room and the home. The above title is one of the first books that was accepted by the homeschooling community as a way to understand ADHD. In Their Own Way will help you to understand why the author believes ADHD is more of a benefit to society than a disease to be cured.
Taking Charge of ADHD by Russell A. Barkley. This book will help you work through the various ideas, treatments, and resources for ADHD. Very thorough and up to date.
As the parent of an ADHD child, author Carol Barnier understands what parents go through. She helps to free parents of the expectation of “normalizing” their child, and offers ideas to work within their child’s best learning style not only in school, but in life as well.
The short answer is “No.” Officially diagnosing dyslexia requires more than just a simple test.
The symptoms of dyslexia commonly involve more than just reading problems. However, if your child is struggling to read, using resources that are designed for dyslexia is appropriate whether or not you have a diagnosis. Also, dyslexia can be remediated at any age – although the earlier you start, the better. I did work with one young man who still could not read at all after eight years of school. How sad!
The first two resources listed below offer checklists of dyslexia symptoms to help you determine whether or not your child might be dyslexic as well as good advice on how to deal with it. The simple answer is to use a good phonics program based on the Orton-Gillingham method. And below that are some free and inexpensive resources for teaching beginning reading. Memoria Press has an excellent article available on their website that explains why some reading programs don’t qualify and others do.
I must also mention that some homeschoolers ascribe to the theory that it’s better to wait than it is to force your child with a reading program. This is something that you as a parent will need to decide for your family. I have a nephew who resisted reading until he was 12. He’s now doing just fine as a high school student. Of course, mom and dad read lots of books to him during those early years and also continued with math. It was obvious the child was very bright but he refused to read. This is a different situation than having a child who wants to read but continues to struggle even with consistent lessons.
While the purpose of this website is to sell the Barton Reading Program, Susan Barton also offers tons of free, easy to understand information about dyslexia. Start with the tab at the top of the page “What is Dyslexia?”
FOR EVERYONE WHO STRUGGLES TO READ! Clear, practical, science-based information and advice for successful results. One in five American children has trouble reading. But they are not stupid or lazy. In Overcoming Dyslexia, Dr. Sally Shaywitz, co-director of the Yale Center for the Study of Learning and Attention and a leader in the new research into how the brain works, offers the latest information about reading problems and proven, practical techniques that, along with hard work and the right help, can enable anyone to overcome them. Here are the tools that parents and teachers need to help the dyslexic child, age by age, grade by grade, step by step.
And here are some free and inexpensive resources for teaching beginning reading.
An inexpensive phonics and early reading workbooks
Free early phonics website
Stairway to Reading – A free reading program out of Canada. From www.societyforqualityeducation.org
Twenty minutes a day is all you need, and within 100 teaching days your child will be reading on a solid second-grade reading level. It’s a sensible, easy-to-follow, and enjoyable way to help your child gain the essential skills of reading. Everything you need is here — no paste, no scissors, no flash cards, no complicated directions — just you and your child learning together. One hundred lessons, fully illustrated and color-coded for clarity, give your child the basic and more advanced skills needed to become a good reader.
The Three R’s Series by Ruth Beechick
DYSCALCULIA (Math Dyslexia)
Yes, math dyslexia truly does exist and the official name is dyscalculia. It usually includes problems with time and money and may or may not coexist with dyslexia. Unfortunately, the problem is just beginning to be addressed and there is very little information available when compared to dyslexia. And while there are many programs that claim to help a student with math, to my knowledge, none of them have been scientifically tested and live up to their promises.
On a positive note, there is more and more research presently being done to try to determine why some people struggle with numbers. No matter what resource you choose to use, it is going to take time, patience, and one on one attention to help this child learn math. Your student may never be able to sit and do a page of math by himself! Below are some suggestions for where to start.
the premier website for dyscalculia. This site can help you diagnose your child’s math problems and offers plenty of suggestions. In fact, there is so much information that you may be overwhelmed. Sorry, that’s because dyscalculia is still in the research stage.
Dysgraphia is a learning disability that results in difficulty with written expression. Children with dysgraphia are able to express themselves fluently orally, but they can’t transfer their ideas to the page because they find writing difficult and they may avoid doing it.
Children with dysgraphia struggle to write, which can cause them to experience emotional stress and anxiety. They generally have good verbal skills and many times parents and teachers expect them to write at the same level as they speak; when they don’t, they may be mistakenly thought of as lazy or careless.
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