Homeschooling With Dyslexia: Get Curriculum

Homeschool Curriculums Dyslexia

Welcome back to Homeschooling With Dyslexia:  A 10-Day Series.  So far we have looked at:

Day 1:   My Family’s Dyslexia Journey – Who I am and why I write about dyslexia

Day 2:  Getting Informed – What dyslexia is and what the latest research says

Day 3:  Getting Understanding – Gaining an understanding of each student’s unique learning style to better teach them

Today we will take another step along the path of successful homeschooling by looking at homeschool methods and curriculums that are best suited to the dyslexic learner.

Homeschool Methods

The teacher-to-student ratio in the public or private schoolroom makes the traditional text book, workbook, quiz and test format the best fit – mainly for organizational purposes.  Everybody has the same assignments.  Everyone is required to complete the same work.  There is little room for individualized instruction, even if there was a desire to do so.  While there are factors that will determine which homeschool method is best for your family, there is by nature, again, much more freedom for individualization.

The following is a brief list of major homeschool {teaching} methods:

Traditional – Closest to what you find in a traditional classroom.  May be good if you have recently brought your kids out of the public school system.  Heavily teacher driven.

Unit Studies – Integrates all subjects into one theme.  Good for combining subjects with multiple ages, is hands-on and activity based.  Good for teaching multiple ages at once.

Charlotte Mason – A whole child approach that is based around reading ‘living books” but includes focus on short, intense class meetings, nature study, narration, copy work, and the study of fine arts.  The goal of the Charlotte Mason method is to instill a love of learning and a curiosity about life in the student.

Classical – Based on the three stages of intellectual development (grammar, logic, rhetoric) and relies heavily on the Classics in literature for the base of study.  The goal of the Classical Method is to create critical thinkers.

Eclectic – A mix of many methods – usually gained by experience of what works best in your home.  Nice for accomodating multiple learning styles.

Unschooling – Child directed, no text books yet purposeful.

For more information on Homeschool Methods with links to resources, please visit Richile at her blog, Under the Golden Apple Tree, where she posted The Ultimate Guide to Homeschool Methods.  It is a very thorough and well-written post.

Finding Balance

There will be a homeschool method that appeals to you, the teacher, and another one that will appeal to your child, the student.  Usually, the style(s) that you find the most interesting will be the most effective.  I am a classic left-brained, just-tell-me-how-many-pages-to-fill-in kind of girl.  I like the order and clarity of workbooks.  My kids, however, struggle with that type of learning.  My right-brained, creative children would rather act out a scene from a certain period of history than write a paper on it.  This is completely overwhelming to me.  We have had to find compromise in our curriculum so that they are learning and I am not stressing out!

General Learning Preferences for Dsylexic Learners

Dyslexic kids {in general} do better with:

  • shorter {intense} teaching sessions
  • auditory learning {audio books, discussion, educational DVDs}
  • oral work or discussion of material

Dyslexic learners {in general} don’t do so well with:

  • lots of writing {look for narration exercises, arts-based assignments}
  • learning by reading {look for curriculums with video or audio lectures}
  • spelling lists
  • rote memorization

While all people (dyslexic or not) have certain ways that they learn best, using a multisensory approach (combining seeing, saying, listening and doing) will help your child learn faster and enhance his or her ability to retain new information.  Also, making accomodations for learning styles should not exclude learning by other methods.  If your child learns better through the auditory channel, great.  Use auditory methods when you can but still be working on improving reading speed and comprehension on a daily basis.

Don’t be Afraid to ‘Tweek’ Things

Most homeschool curriculums can be adapted to fit alternate learning styles.  This year, I have two 9th-graders who are working through a rigorous Integrated Physics and Chemistry curriculum.  I wanted something taught on video.  This appeals to their auditory learning preference.  However, their reading assignments are difficult and full of vocabulary that they have never heard before.  We began the year plugging their (online) reading assignments into a text-to-speech app on our iPad.  This was helpful, because they could follow along as the iPad read their assignment.  However, the content was still confusing to them so, rather than immediately list the curriculum on eBay (which I have done plenty of times!) I decided to sit one or two days per week and read the assignment with them.  We stopped whenever there was something we didn’t understand, looked up vocabulary words or better yet, watched a video or two on the Kahn Academy web site.  {Oh my, this site is a homeschool mom’s dream come true!}  We also had a lot of discussions about what we were learning and finding connections to things that we already knew.  By creatively working with our curriculum, we were able to make it work for us.  Will I buy this curriculum for Biology next year?  Maybe not, but we are learning how to learn which is a large part of homeschooling, especially for the dyslexic.

How to Find the Best Homeschool Curriculum for Your Family

With so many excellent curriculums to choose from, how can you find the best materials for your family?  Taking into account learning styles and homeschool methods that appeal to you and your students, you can begin to search for curriculums that are the best fit.

General Tips

  • Search online for curriculums that fit your family’s learning styles
  • Read reviews – see Cathy Duffy’s web site
  • Talk to other homeschool moms of dyslexic kids (or read their blogs!)

Further Tips for Dyslexia

  • Look for curriculums with audio options
  • Look for curriculums with hands-on activities

Don’t Hesitate to Use Technology

With so much technology out there for enhancing education, don’t think that using these methods is somehow inferior to classic pen and paper learning.  From multisensory iPad apps, to text-to-speech programs to speech-to-text and on, these are tools that can greatly enhance your child’s learning while they continue to perfect their reading and writing by more traditional means.  See my post on The Ultimate List of Dyslexia Resources for a list of my favorite resources for teaching my dyslexic family, including some of the latest and greatest technology that we use.

The Power of Interest-Driven Leanring

I can not stress this enough.  All children need to learn the basic flow of history, how to write a coherent paper and how to think critically.  Step back and look at the big picture.  If you can combine a particular interest of your child say from your history studies (battles, clothing, art, etc) and combine it with their writing assigment for English, you have captured their interest.  In my experience, my kids were much more willing to push throught their learning difficulties when they were motivated by what they were learning!

Truths About Finding the Right Homeschool Curriculum

  • It may take several tries to get a good fit that works well with your family.
  • Don’t be too hasty or too slow to replace a curriculum.
  • Just because it works for everyone else or got great reveiws, doesn’t mean it will be a good fit for your family.

What We’re Using

Since the curriculum you choose will depend on the learning styles and preferred teaching methods of you and your family, I have not specifically endorsed any one particular curriculum.  I do get asked what we use and so here are a few links to what we are using this year in our homeschool:

Homeschool Curriculum :  Preschool & Kindergarten

Homeschool Curriculum:  3rd & 4th Grade

Homeschool Curriculum:  9th Grade

More Information on Homeschooling With Dyslexia

For more information on Homeschooling With Dyslexia, please visit our new web site by clicking the image below!

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Marianne Sunderland

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  1. Thank you SO much for taking the time to write up all this info concerning homeschooling with dyslexia. My son is in 1st grade (could be in 2nd but still doing 1st because of his reading/writing) I have home-schooled him from preschool on and have always had some difficulties. We finally had him tested and he has a mild case of dyslexia. I feel like i am on a new journey now trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. This is a true God send. THANK YOU!!

    • Marianne Sunderland says:

      Hi Ginger. I’m so glad you found me! It is awesome that you discovered dyslexia in your son so early. With your support, he will do great!

  2. Sarah Schmidt says:

    Hi, I just found out that my 8 year old daughter has dyslexia. I now have to re-think school with her and am completely lost as to what to do. The doctor told me that since she is a visual and auditory learner to find curriculim that is interactive and work one-on-one with her on her phonics. Any help you could send my way would be such a blessing! I just want to be able to teach her and help her to understand and learn successfully!

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