A Beautiful Spring Morning – if you were hoping for more snow.
It’s the time of year for standardized testing. All the talk about testing lately reminded me of Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! a book, sort of, mostly by Dr. Seuss. “We’ve taught you that the earth is round,/ That red and white make pink,/ And something else that matters more-/ We’ve taught you how to think.” I think many homeschoolers will appreciate the sentiment of the book.
Since this seems to be the winter that will never end, we spent a large portion of the week reading “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It certainly made us appreciate all we do have. Although this winter might be dragging on a bit – our house is warm and snug, we have plenty of food to eat, and we haven’t been stuck inside for weeks on end. It’s all about perspective.
We’ve been doing some “egg-perimenting” this week and I’ve almost finished a post for next week showing some of our experiments. By now I think I should call them activities, because the boys know what will happen but still enjoy them.
The picture is a bald eagle we saw in Yellowstone last fall. This week, E thought he saw a bald eagle flying close to our house. He has since done more research and decided the bird he saw had too much white on the breast for a bald eagle. It was definitely VERY large and fast. We could see it circling with a mate for several minutes, but it was so far away I couldn’t get a picture. We had a great time researching the comeback of bald eagles and expanding on the information about the number of nesting pairs we found in a book from ’98.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about appreciating learning styles. The boys are much more visual / auditory learners than I am. They learn by watching movies and pay tremendous attention to pictures and illustrations in books. This week C was reading Lizards from the Nature’s Children series (he’s been on a big kick of these lately). He turned the page and instantly recognized a picture of a marine iguana. He proceeded to tell me all about marine iguanas without reading the text. How did he know so much? It was from a segment in a documentary we watched 2 months ago. Wow! I had him read the page and he really knew his stuff. Good job letting them watch so many documentaries!
I don’t talk about it much on the blog, because it’s just part of life here, but one of our kids is dyslexic. (“Has dyslexia” if you prefer – it doesn’t make any difference to either of us – one way seems like a label, the other a disease – to us it’s a fact of life no matter how you say it) This week I’ve been thinking a lot about dyslexia, learning, and testing and I wanted to share a few thoughts.
1. Accommodations for testing make a world of difference. I was very happy to have the chance to see exactly how my son was able to use extra time and not feel so stressed by testing. If you are in a school system please push for extra time AND a reader where allowed. I think schools are often resistant to providing a reader, but on the grammar and usage part of the test this can be so important. My son is used to auto-correcting himself so that verb tenses agree. If he messes up the subject by putting on or leaving off an “s” he automatically adjusts the verb. When the test is read to him, he can instantly pick out when the noun and verb disagree and other similar issues.
We wouldn’t expect someone on crutches to be able to run around the track in the same amount of time as an able bodied person – something in the way the dyslexic brain processes things makes it take longer. Because he had extra time my son was able to complete the tests, feel good about it, and perform well. If he had been forced to stop after completing only 60-80% of the questions, he would have been so discouraged with the whole thing.
2. Both of my kids learn so much from documentaries. We use Netflix, PBS, and Amazon Prime to take us around the world to places and times we will probably never see in person. We have more opportunity to learn than at any other time in history. It seems a shame so many people automatically equate screen time with entertainment only or turning your brain to mush. There are vast differences in the quality of screen time and how it is used. This week I was thinking in particular how quality programming can help dyslexics by giving them background information that makes words on the page more familiar and less intimidating.
3. Reading alouds are a powerful thing. My kids amaze me with their LISTENING ability. I think about times it would have behooved me to be a better listener (not necessarily a note taker). If you learn to really listen to people, you have a chance to watch for emotion and pick up on details others miss.
4. Homeschool is a great thing when addressing dyslexia. You can listen to the nuances of the child’s speech and make corrections – the sort of things like “v”, “f”, “th” that make spelling and reading more difficult. You can take the “write out the number” questions from math and save them for writing time, since it will be a laborious exercise. The work load can be adjusted to the child’s energy rhythms, instead of trying to address homework at the end of a long, sometimes frustrating day. Homeschool lets the child know his / her strengths and enjoy learning. The list goes on and is probably deserving of it’s own post. If you are considering homeschooling a dyslexic child please don’t let fear hold you back. You may want to use tutors and it will take a lot of patience and educating yourself, but homeschool can be a much better environment.
5. If handled correctly, these present challenges will become an avenue for blessings. Each of us is unique and will follow our own distinct path created by who we are and how we respond to the challenges and situations in our path. In all adversity, strength can be gained. Dyslexia can teach a child the power of hard work and perseverance, as well as how to ask for help and find people to help them achieve their goals.