The Secret To Language Arts For My Dyslexic Child
My son loves audio books.
Like, we always have a book going, listen to it every single time we are in the car, have a back-up audio book just in case, Audible loves us almost as much as we love Audible, love for audio books.
He also creates his own stories. We work on outlines and timelines. He creates character sketches and usually has an evil witch that turns out to be the hero’s mom (much to my dismay…).
In many ways, he excels in what we typically call language arts.
He also forgets that we need to capitalize the first letter of the first word in every sentence.
He struggles to read even the most basic books.
Last week, he forgot how to spell his last name and he reversed a letter in it once he remembered.
In many ways, he is significantly delayed in what we typically call language arts.
Because my son has profound learning differences that make traditional reading and writing a challenge, language arts is a subject that requires more of my attention than all the others combined.
My son wants desperately to read on his own. He dreams of escaping to his room to write his own stories, instead of having to dictate them to me.
He has prayed for it for years.
Language Arts For My Dyslexic Child
The truth is, we have had to get creative in order to figure out how to meet his needs – not just his struggles, but his strengths as well! There are several accommodations we have made, and continue to make, in his language arts learning. Some are obvious. Some we have only figured out through trial and error, over time. Overall, these accommodations allow him to make progress and feel a sense of accomplishment, even when his learning differences make the most basic tasks seem impossible.
Dyslexia Accommodations For Teaching Language Arts
Just in case it wasn’t clear above, audiobooks are the mainstay of our language arts learning. Just as many families have several read alouds going at once, we have several audio books.
I often receive messages and comments that this “just isn’t the same as ‘real’ reading.” I could not disagree more. If I were reading aloud the books, sitting on the couch with my son, both of us sipping tea, no one would comment. It literally is exactly the same thing, except that my son doesn’t have to sit still and I don’t become hoarse because he wants to listen for three hours straight.
Copywork is a new addition to our learning this year.
Instead of the endless handwriting exercises and re-writing the alphabet over and over again (he’s dysgraphic and 12 – how many times can I honestly expect him to continue forming each letter?) he chooses a passage from one of his favorite books. We read it together, I write it out for him to use as a reference. Then he copies a sentence or two. The difference is significant. Because he chooses a funny or terrifying quote from the book, he is engaged in copying it down.
He practices capitalization, punctuation, word spacing and yes, forming his letters in a way that makes sense for his age and interests.
I used to worry about not completing all those reading comprehension worksheets (the standard ones with a three or four paragraph passage of text and then several multiple choice questions at the end). No longer. Rather than requiring formal practice and learning for reading comprehension, we simply talk about the book he is listening to.
I ask him about the characters, why he believes so and so did that to so and so, what he thinks the author had in mind when he included a sad scene with the dad, etc. etc. etc.
On very rare occasions, he will dictate his thoughts on a particular book, book report style, but for the most part, I check for comprehension in the most natural way possible – I ask him.
The impact of great stories on my child cannot be measured. Honestly, story itself has become a way to help him apply all that he is learning in real life. So much of his growth has come from engaging in and understanding powerful stories, I wrote an entire post about it this week at Simple Homeschool.
Literature and Learning Differences: The Power of Story
Perhaps, what has surprised me most about helping my dyslexic child learn language arts, is how little his reading ability really matters. With careful and appropriate accommodations, he is actually learning more in this subject than many children his age.
For more information and support:
How My Dyslexic Son Became A Writer
Why We Use All About Reading With My Dyslexic Child
Brave Writer and Children With Learning Differences
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.
awesome post… thanks
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