When we pulled our son from in-person school and started homeschooling him for fourth grade, I was keen on sticking with a virtual schooling program and I think we tried a few of them before we took a less traditional route. For our struggling reader, who had already been held back a grade, the material wasn’t grade specific and the lessons were boring, geared for a younger learner. So, we went rogue, we decided to unschool him.
We pulled Grandma Gayle out of teacher retirement to handle reading, writing, and geography which also doubles as social studies. I handle math, science, and the unschool administrative duties as well as extracurriculars.
A friend clued me in to this great kids chore system by The Lazy Genius Collective. We adapted it with the date and the day’s schedule including ‘specials’ like karate and piano. While he still hates chores and struggles with the reason WHY he has to contribute as a constant debate, this system makes it interesting and different daily and helps us organize our day.
In many ways, this is the year that Taj has gotten all the attention he has needed to get over the reading curve. I sometimes think that because he has attended so many schools in so many years, he was always that kid in the back of the choir just mouthing the words, hoping nobody noticed that he wasn’t actually singing. At home, he has two dedicated humans (sometimes three when Ethan isn’t working) staying on him to get it done.
I can’t say our process is perfect and I’m extremely nervous about the fact that he HATES homework and still fights school and debates EVERYTHING. But, we’ve made excellent progress and hope we are creating a well-balanced human who will eventually navigate the world on his own.
Here are some things that work for us:
CONSTANT GUIDED READING: Constant, consistent reading with your dyslexic youngster will keep him/her from sliding back in their abilities. We notice a difference when we skip a weekend of reading. I was one of those kids who read under the covers until my mom took the flashlight away, so forcing Taj to read daily has been a struggle since he was little. He loves being read to but when it’s his turn, it’s very difficult. Now that he is on grade level and wants to stay up later, we’ve suggested reading in bed and offered up suggestions for ‘easy’ books or re-reads of favorite books. It wasn’t until the first week of 2021 at age 11 that he finally succumb to the idea and started solo-reading.
TUTORING: He works virtually with an Orton Gillingham tutor twice a week for an hour on each session.
MEDITATION: I recently started meditating and can’t stress enough how impactful this has been. While I do like using the “Ten Percent Happier” app, Taj prefers the “Peace Out” Podcast. I have watched him still his moving body, I have watched him control his anger, and I have seen him change his attitude during these 15 minutes sessions. It’s incredible!
- Brains On! – This Kids Science Podcast episode about Dyslexia is awesome and helped Taj understand how his dyslexic brain is different from non-dyslexic brains.
- We also love Story Pirates and Wow In The World.
- Any NPR Podcast geared for kids is great. A quick Google search brought up this list of Kids Podcasts and there are a few on there that I’d like to try!
- Pinna – This is an app of vetted read alound childrens books, original podcasts, and some duplicates from Apple Podcasts. We found it because we loved listening to Mars Patel on Apple Podcasts, but you had to finish the season on Pinna. And then we got hooked on Pinna.
- Note: One problem with hearing all the I Survived books outloud is that now that those are ON grade level, he says he already knows the stories and doesn’t want to read them.
Mr. Nussbaum – If your child is like mine and greatest reward is VIDEO GAME TIME, Mr. Nussbaum’s very simple math games keep my child interested and drill him on those pesky multiplication tables. While it isn’t an Xbox, it is playing games during school time 🙂
Homeschooling with Dyslexia – I don’t know how she does handles 8 homeschooled kids (7 are dyslexic), but I find her resources very wise and well tried. While we are more on a secular path, I just don’t subscribe to her more religious resource suggestions. Her email subscription is a good reminder for new ideas and resources.
Dyslexic Online School – If you don’t want to do it and you really want to put your child in school, check out Redwood Literacy Program. We sent this resource to a friend and they enrolled their overseas child and it seems to be going great!