Having written in a previous post about Rhythm Dude’s journey with dyslexia, I’ll now pen a little about Sparkly Eyes’ path so far and then jot down some practical tips I’ve picked up along the way.
Sparkly Eyes has a kaleidoscope of behavioural and emotional needs in addition to dyslexia. This adds to the complexities of teaching her. All her quirks are not uncommon for children with a background of trauma, but add a completely different dimension to learning. My heart really goes out to parents with children with additional needs as it is a different and a tough journey.
We do lots of short activities with plenty of variety. We often work on the floor, so she can move freely. Like many children, she needs to do something with her hands while I read. She will, however, listen to stories in this way for hours! We are slowly working through the “Nessy” dyslexia programme which I used for Rhythm Dude, and we do life together; playing, reading aloud, lots of outdoors time, cooking etc. She loves being outdoors and is very observant so nature study is a favourite.
So for some practical tips I’ve picked up along the way:
- it’s important to give plenty of praise; a small achievement for most children may be a major achievement for a dyslexic child. We all work better with encouragement.
- allow your child to move, whether it’s fiddling with plasticine or Lego or physically turning summersaults between word games!
- for us, a special dyslexia programme has been essential. I’ve learnt that dyslexia requires a different approach to teaching. We have used the Nessy programme but there are several others. It’s worth finding what suits your child’s personality and learning style.
- we do a lot of learning through games and hands on activities, eg in maths. Repetition is important as it helps with short term memory
- lots of time outdoors to explore and lots of exercise has helped
- I’ve found that keeping screen time to a minimum, and watching from a big screen rather than a small tablet screen helps to keep behaviour on a more even keel.
- assessments are expensive, so may not be an option. However, it was very useful for Rhythm Dude and gave me lots of practical pointers.
- Exams are a whole different ball game with dyslexia..have a listen to our podcast or check out my previous post.
- And….the best advice of all is to read, read and read some more to your children. Reading aloud exposes them to rich vocabulary and sentence structure allowing them in turn to develop excellent language skills. Audio books do the same thing, and an audible subscription has been one of the best investments we’ve made. Knowing Sparkly Eyes is getting all these wonderful stories through her ears means I’m quite relaxed about the time it takes for her to learn to read.
I know now that she doesn’t need a string of GCSE’s to do well in a broad FE (further education) system, so I’m very thankful that by home educating her I really can be focusing on the skills she needs for life, not just to pass exams.
She is made in the image of her loving Creator and I believe her perceived weaknesses can, in time, become her strengths. Her journey is different again, and the complexities she carries having lived through trauma prior to adoption, are something we continue to puzzle out on a daily basis. But that’s what they are; something which can’t be sorted with any magic formula or parenting strategy. Each day I need to lift her before God and pray that his Holy Spirit, the Counsellor, will give me wisdom and reveal the best way ahead. I can’t see the future for her, but I do know the One who holds it and believe in His unswerving faithfulness.