Home Schooling a Dyslexic Child

While home schooling a dyslexic child has no shortage of challenges, your task of teaching your dyslexic child at home can become easier and more rewarding with the right tools.

Sure, you’ll still have your share of setbacks, but it’s so rewarding when you finally see those little breakthroughs suddenly develop into a major progression in your child’s comprehension.First of all, just what is Dyslexia? According to Answers.com, Dyslexia is a learning disability characterized by problems in reading, spelling, writing, speaking, or listening. In many cases, dyslexia appears to be inherited.

Dyslexic children seem to have trouble learning early reading skills, problems hearing individual sounds in words, analyzing whole words in parts, and blending sounds into words. Letters such as “d” and “b” may be confused.

Often, a person with dyslexia has a problem translating language into thought (such as in listening or reading), or translating thought into language (such as in writing or speaking).

If you are just starting to teach your dyslexic child, you must remember one thing. Your child is not retarded. His brain is just wired a little differently. Many famous people like Edison, Einstein and Churchill were all dyslexics. It is not a death sentence. People with dyslexia can live rewarding, productive lives.

Being dyslexic does mean that your child will have to work harder than his peers to learn basic language skills. You may have noticed problems with his speech at a young age. This is typical.

Also many dyslexics often have trouble concentrating, especially when they have no interest in the subject. They tend to learn better with hands-on (kinesthetic) methods. Games that teach language skills are quite helpful.

Within academic circles there is much discussion about what is the best way to teach a dyslexic. Some say to use phonics while others promote the whole language method. I’m going to tell you to do both. Hit it from all angles. Find out what works best with your child. Every child is different.

There are many programs that may be beneficial. These include Sequential Spelling, Spell to Read and Write, or All About Spelling. Sequential Spelling teaches spelling patterns and builds on those patterns.

Spell to Write and Read teaches all the phonograms first, then combining phonograms (letters or groups of letters associated with a sound) to build words. All About Spelling also begins with the phonograms and then moves on to syllables then words. All of these programs are reasonably priced.

Barten, Wilson and ABC Reading are also good and are all based on the Orten-Gillingham approach. This method is language-based, multisensory, sequential, systematic and has produced good results.

The Orten-Gillingham method starts by having the student read and write the basic letter sounds. The student learns short vowel sounds and consonant sounds. Simple words are learned first.

Once the easy C-A-T type words are learned, then they move on to long vowels, diphthongs (vowels that make two gliding speech sounds which are usually interpreted as one, ex. Oi,oy), digraphs ( two vowels that make one sound ) and blends. Spelling is learned right along with reading. Review is continuous.

After the student has mastered words, then the same type of systematic approach is used for learning vocabulary, sentence structure, reading comprehension, and composition. Again, review is continuous.

While all of the above mentioned programs are good, it may be you are looking for a less expensive way of helping your child. It is not that difficult but you must be willing to devote a lot of time to your child.

First you get a listing of the basic phonemes of the English language (in Noah Webster’s Reading/Spelling Handbook, for example). Phonemes are basic units of sound (ex. B,t,ph,th,s,a,i) that are capable of conveying a distinction in meaning.

You will also need some cards or tiles with letters on them. Using the handbook as your guide, teach your child the long and short vowels, consonants, blends, diphthongs and digraphs.

Start with the short vowel words. Play games with the letters. For example, make the word “tap”. Have your child read and spell the word. Then tell him to reverse the letters and ask him what word he has made. “Pat”. Have him make different words by changing a vowel or consonant.

Once he has mastered the short vowel words move on to the long vowel words. This kind of exercise will help your child understand the patterns in the English language.

Not all dyslexic children are the same. Some are effected by this problem only mildly, some moderately and some severely. The severity of your child’s problem, his age and past educational history all factor in when deciding how to help your child.

So don’t let those bumps in the road discourage you. It’s kind of a cliche’, but two steps forward, one step back is still progress. With all the helps that are available nowadays, your task of teaching your dyslexic child at home has become less daunting and more rewarding.

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