What advice would you give a new homeschooling mom who has a child or multiple with dyslexia?
Try not to allow yourself to become stressed and laser-focused on it. Don’t push your child. There are many instances where we need to firmly motivate and nudge our children, but reading and writing is not one of them. In the case of Dyslexic children, pushing too hard often has the unfortunate effect of spectacularly backfiring! Read lots of good books to them, and listen to lots of good books. If they show an interest in a particular series, educational or not, let them listen to all of it, and then find similar books. Sparking an interest, bringing emotion into it, that’s the key. My girls recently became obsessed with the Keeper of the Lost Cities series. Not educational- but there are so many ways to sneak in some learning from those books. The books talk about magical elements, so we looked up elements in the real world. My son and youngest daughter loved By The Great Horn Spoon, and we were able to look up all kinds of fascinating facts about gold. Now, they are listening to Caddie Woodlawn, and they are invested in it because they see similarities between the book and our own lifestyle.
Dyslexics learn and develop at different times and in different ways than non-dyslexics. Most will simply not be ready to read or write legibly until they are older, possibly even 12-13. (Severe cases) That is ok! It can be incredibly taxing on the nerves and patience, but waiting until they are ready is worth it. Something to keep in mind is that these kids are often strongly Visual-Spatial. Research that and watch for it, because that throws a whole other wrench in things. But it’s also pretty amazing. Dyslexic children are so smart. Their minds are incredible, and it’s fascinating to watch them at work. Help your kids blossom into their strengths, and their weaknesses will naturally and subtly come along for the ride. If you are reading this and are frustrated and worried and are feeling like things are never going to fall into place... I hear you! I’ve been there too! (Still am with my littlest) I’m just a Mama fumbling my way along, and I don’t have the answers, but in case you need a starting point... we have been using Dyslexia Games with noticeable improvement. I’m very impressed with this gentle approach!
How do you implement BFB with children who have dyslexia?
Well, when my kids were little it was easy. I just read to them. BFB has a very easy to use parent guide that goes along with every package, and I followed that. We snuggled on the couch and read, or more often, the kids would color the books corresponding coloring picture, play with playdough, blocks, or Legos, while I read aloud. It was great! And then they got older... it was becoming increasingly obvious that something was not clicking for them. Attempting to read and write was an exhausting ordeal. There were many, many tears. Some of them even belonged to the kids! Naturally, schoolwork was becoming more involved, and I was being stretched too thin between three struggling children, a chicken farm/homestead, and a chronic illness. I really needed my oldest to be able to take over her reading. We floundered for a while, with me wishing that she could still just use picture books until I realized two things.
1. Well done picture books have just as much information packed into them as an upper elementary/middle school reader. BFB were the ones to help me to see this! My Visual-Spatial kids need to see the information as much as possible, and good children’s book authors do an amazing job with this.
2. Audible has most of BFB available to listen to!
My daughter listens to her book while she paints or does something else to keep her hands busy. BFB has an excellent supply of picture books and early chapter books, so I would have her read those and listen to the ones that were too much for her to handle reading on her own. Now, a couple of years later she is in middle school and reading almost at her “age level”. But as with most children with Dyslexia, it’s still exhausting, so I continue to provide her with the physical book and the audio version. She will often follow along in the book while she listens. This helps her to really absorb the story, where otherwise she might not. I don’t exclusively use BFB today, but the way the packages are set up makes it SO easy to seamlessly weave them into an eclectic mix that works for us. We use Fun-School Journals, Apologia Science, and BFB for most of our History/Geography readers, with smatterings of Sonlight readers, mixed in. I love the extra resources that BFB suggests in their parent guides, and we make good use of those. I firmly believe that you don’t have to read with your eyes. There are many ways to enjoy and learn from good books.
Share about your journey will homeschooling your children and dealing with chronic illness?
Honestly, it’s not easy. I’m not here to tell you that it’s all unicorns and rainbows - because it’s not. It is messy and amazing, and boring, and hilarious, awe-inspiring, annoying, precious, frustrating, and incredibly, wonderfully worth it. Some days are magical. We check all the school boxes, finish all the chores, and the children remember they love each other.
Other days... I didn’t sleep all night because I was in severe pain, and of course, the kids chose that day to wake up early. The dog throws up on the carpet, an eagle is trying to carry off the chickens, that stinker of a moose is back on the front porch and won’t leave, and no one remembers their multiplication tables, including Mom. On days like that, we just pause. These are Real Life days. Rest days. And they are just as important as the box-checking days. SO much learning happens on these days... some that you won’t see for years to come, if ever, but it’s happening, I promise you! Turn on an audiobook or documentary. BFB has links to YouTube videos in their parent guides, and I have often done nothing but play the audiobook, and the recommended YouTube videos on my really sick days. My book Mama Says showcases a lot of our homeschooling adventures in Alaska, and in some of the pictures, you will see me laying on the couch, reading with the kids, or playing card games. Those pictures were not staged. You do what you can, on the days you are able, and when you can’t, don’t. I also wrote an Interactive Journal for chronically ill moms and a corresponding journal for kids with sick moms, and I go into more detail there, but this post would be 100 pages long if I tried to do that here! If you are a Spoonie Mama, I hope you will look into those books, because I specifically wrote them with the hope of being an encouragement to those who need it. (Spoonie = chronically ill).
See Rachel’s books below:
Rachel’s Amazon page: amazon.com/author/booksformetoo