Some of you may be homeschooling a child with dyslexia. I’ve been there! The “experts” in the school system may try to tell you that you are not qualified to teach your child with dyslexia. But that’s just false. A well-equipped and knowledgeable parent can do a far better job one on one with their child than a teacher at school.
Here’s what I wish I would have known right from the start. And here are practical solutions and steps to take.
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Homeschooling a child with dyslexia can feel like a huge challenge. But a homeschool parent can do a fabulous job educating their dyslexic child at home. No need to spend money on tutors or complicated curriculum.
Here is what you should know and what I wish I would have known early on about homeschooling a child with dyslexia.
What is Dyslexia? Dyslexic Traits in Children
Dyslexia is primarily a language-based learning disability. This learning disorder is characterized by difficulty reading. So if your child has normal vision and normal intelligence, but is struggling learning to read, they just might have dyslexia.
This is how I knew one of my kids likely had dyslexia. I was teaching him how to read in kindergarten and first grade, just like I had taught his brother. But it just wasn’t sticking. It was a huge struggle. He didn’t “get it.”
Dyslexics also have difficulty memorizing or spelling. All of these aspects are caused by differences in the brain where language is processed.
What are the most common characteristics of dyslexia?
The most common characteristics of dyslexia include:
- Poor decoding
- Difficulty reading (sounding out) unknown words
- Poor fluency (slow reading rate)
- Poor spelling
Testing for dyslexia
We personally didn’t test our son for dyslexia until we needed the documentation for accommodations on the ACT. If you’re homeschooling your child and suspect dyslexia, you can make accommodations naturally and support their learning with a customized approach. You don’t have to have an official diagnosis.
But if you want one now or eventually, your child will take a series of tests, usually administered by an educational psychologist. These tests will cover memory, vision, spelling, and reading. They will also request a full medical history and take notes on your child’s development.
Should a dyslexic child be homeschooled?
Maybe the question should be: Why wouldn’t you homeschool your dyslexic child? The benefits of homeschooling a dyslexic child far outweigh the challenges.
The most common issue is that parents don’t feel qualified. They’re not professional educators, after all. But most educational programs fail to teach future classroom teachers anything about dyslexia or teaching a dyslexic child!
Here’s why (in my opinion) you should homeschool your dyslexic child:
- you love them more than anyone
- Most kids with dyslexia will succeed with an individualized education program (IEP)– aka homeschooling!!
- you can offer one-on-one teaching!
- there is excellent homeschool curriculum available for you to use!
Dyslexia homeschool curriculum
One off the most important tools in your homeschool toolbox will be the curriculum. The best choice for homeschooling a dyslexic child is to use curriculum based on the Orton-Gillingham approach. This approach to reading was developed by Samuel Torrey Orton and Anna Gillingham in the 1930s. It’s still considered to be the most effective treatment for dyslexia.
The curriculum we most highly recommend for your dyslexic child (and their siblings too!) is from All About Learning Press. Their All About Reading and All About Spelling curriculum is scripted out based on the Orton-Gillingham Method so you don’t need to wonder how to teach your child. Just follow the script!
You can read about our experience with using All About Spelling.
How should I teach my child with dyslexia?
There are three things to know about teaching your child with dyslexia.
- Teach them with a multi sensory approach, engaging all their senses.
- Use Orton-Gillingham curriculum.
- Allow students to answer orally rather than written. Narration is the perfect method to use for all your kids, but especially your dyslexic student.
What are the benefits of being dyslexic?
Believe it or not, there are benefits of being dyslexic! As the Eide’s write in their book, The Dyslexic Advantage, dyslexics have strengths like:
- strong visual memory
- great visual spatial reasoning
- puzzle-solving abilities
- they can “see” connections
About 85% of dyslexics think in picture form, so they have very strong visual spatial reasoning skills.
Their main struggles in addition to language processing (reading) would be struggles in short term memory and also automated processes.
What jobs are dyslexics good at?
Because dyslexics are great with spatial processing and problem-solving, they are good at jobs that require you to see the big picture and how things connect and they’re also good at using their motor skills.
Jobs that dyslexics are good at include:
- creative design
- performing arts
- fashion styling
- computer building
Podcast episode 37: Homeschooling with Dyslexia
Do you have a homeschooled child with dyslexia? Or do you suspect dyslexia? Here’s what I wish I would have known years ago and what you can do today to help your dyslexia child.
Here’s a list of resources mentioned on today’s episode:
- The Dyslexic Advantage by Brock L. Eide M.D. M.A. & Fernette F. Eide M.D.
- Audiobooks or Reading? To Our Brains, It Doesn’t Matter
- The Arts of Language Podcast from the Institute for Excellence in Writing episode #197 & 198 – Living with Dyslexia
- eBay Reseller Mini Course for Teens >> use coupon code HWM5 to save $5!
Sometimes, we just need encouragement and resources. You can find them here:
- Homeschool Mom Collective
- Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Kindergarten
- Your Child is Not Behind
- Why You Don’t Need a Teaching Degree to Homeschool Your Kids
Podcast episode 184: My advice to a homeschool mom learning about dyslexia
In episode 184 of the Homeschool with Moxie Podcast, I thought I would revisit the topic of dyslexia and give my advice to answer a reader’s question.
I received an email from Melissa and she asked some great questions about homeschooling her child with dyslexia. In this episode, I’ll be sharing what I shared with Melissa. These are the things I wish I would have known before homeschooling our dyslexic child.
Here are the main points:
Learn all you can.
Definitely read The Dyslexic Advantage by Brock & Fernette Eide. I didn’t read this until a few years ago and I really wish I had known about this book much sooner!
Choose the right curriculum.
Not all of it will work for your dyslexic child. All About Learning Press offers some of the best curriculum for dyslexic children since it’s based on the Orton-Gillingham method. AALP offers a complete Dyslexia resources page that you should definitely check out!
A Mindset Shift is Needed!
You can do a BETTER job than the public school can! Why is this possible? Because you will be able to customized their education and give them one-on-one instruction and help. Schools put IEP’s (individualized education plan) in place, but homeschooling is the ultimate IEP!
Be encouraged by success stories.
Andrew Pudewa from Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) has a son with dyslexia who was homeschooled. Please listen to the podcast episodes detailing that experience over on my IEW recommendation page.
Our dyslexic son had a psychological evaluation before his senior year of high school so we could get accommodations for his ACT testing. The educational psychologist who did the testing said he definitely showed signs of dyslexia, but our homeschooling methods had clearly worked so well that he learned how to compensate and still be successful! Isn’t this the goal?
This same kid is doing well in college (all A’s and B’s!). He will never be an awesome speller, but who cares? Because he wasn’t in a traditional classroom (at least not for long – worst 2 years of our lives with a Christian school experience) – he didn’t have to grow up with a “stigma” around his learning struggles. He is able to do his best and be successful. This is also the same kid who can build a computer from scratch because he has dyslexia superpowers! So, yeah.
Look into eye tracking issues.
This is one aspect I don’t have personal experience with, although maybe if we had learned about it early on it would be have made a difference? I just don’t know. But some families I’ve done homeschool evaluations for have told me that their children benefited greatly from eye therapy after specialists looked into eyesight and tracking issues. I’m not sure all regular eye doctors are equipped for this type of therapy.
Final Thoughts on Homeschooling a child with dyslexia
You need to know that you are not alone and that you can be successful when homeschooling a child with dyslexia. You just need to learn as much as you can and customize your homeschool experience to help your dyslexic child continue to thrive, learn, and progress.