Jan 042014

You CAN teach your child to be organized through the use of these three Organization Tips and five Organization Ideas.

If your child is chronically disorganized, it can be a real challenge for your child to be successful in school.

Organizational skills are not typically taught in school, so your child will benefit if you step in to help with these organization tips.

Three Essential Organization Tips for Organized Kids:

The main skills you need to teach your child to help him become more organized include –

Organization Tip #1: Use established routines for every day practices to build habits.

For example, your child needs to use the same process each day to gather his books, assignments, and other items for his school day at the beginning and ending of each school day. Teaching your child a regimented routine for the start and end of his school day will build in a habit of organization.

Organization Tip #2: Use checklists to complete routine tasks.

You’ll have to help your child mindfully engage with the checklist by verbally coaching him through the list each day until using the checklist becomes a habit.  While this may seem like the same task as establishing a routine, it is a bit different.  Using the checklist(s) should become part of your child’s routine as established in #1 above.

Organization Tip #3: Teach Your Child Assignment Segmenting and Scheduling.

A child with organizational difficulties usually lacks a natural ability to see how to divide big assignments into smaller chunks.  Again, you will need to work directly with your child, verbally coaching him through the division of assignments into smaller steps. You’ll need to help him write down each step on a schedule so he’ll be able to make progress each day without waiting until the last moment.

Five Organization Ideas or Tools for Helping Your Child Learn Organization Skills

1) Organizing the Disorganized Childorganization tips – This book has great reviews and comes highly recommended. If you get nothing else, this book will help you help your child.

2) Daily Academic Planner – Your child will need help learning how to divide up large assignments among the days from the date given through the due date.

Children with organizational and planning difficulties seldom know how to break a big task up into smaller subtasks. You will have to help your child with this process repeatedly until he learns to do it himself.

You can use an academic planner to schedule work and to note assignment due dates. Teaching my boys how to segment big assignments into smaller steps has helped them immensely throughout high school, especially with their dual enrollment courses.

3) Velcro Binders – If your child is like mine, his notebook comes home as a scattered jumble of papers stashed loosely in his bookbag. Papers fall out of an ordinary notebook and easily get damaged or lost.

We found notebooks with zippered or velcroed closures help the papers make the journey between home and school without getting lost. Additionally, letting each of my boys pick out a “cool” binder at the beginning of the school year helped with their usage compliance.

4) Pocket Page Protectors – These are great for your child’s checklists for his different routines. Having a pocket protector keeps the paper nice without tearing the holes and getting messed up.

The plastic surface allows your child to use a dry erase marker to check off completed items, then the surface can be wiped clean for the next day’s use. When a page protector reaches a point where it needs to be replaced, you can often swap it for a new protector and use the same checklist paper. If you use a paper checklist without a page protector, you will likely have to make a new copy of the checklist frequently.

5) Stackable Drawers or Bins – Label each drawer with a different subject or by “Homework To Be Done,” “Assignments in Progress” and “Homework Finished.” Having the stack of drawers near your child’s homework spot lets him come home, put his homework papers in the “To Be Done” drawer, then move it to the other drawers when he completes the assignment. When he’s done, he can grab the stack of completed papers and put them in his velcro binder. Having the intermediate drawer helps for assignments that take multiple days to finish.

When we began homeschooling, we used the Sterilite ClearView stackable drawers. We chose to buy two sets of three and stack them for a six-drawer stack. We then labeled each drawer with the individual subjects. Each of my sons had a stack of six drawers next to his desk.

It might interest you to know that we were able to successfully teach our boys with these organizational tips and by teaching them planning skills. This is a feat we are particularly proud of since my youngest was deemed “The Human Tornado” when he was young. He was anything but organized, but consistent teaching over multiple years enabled him to become organized throughout his teen years. Now he’s more organized than I am!! Maybe I need someone to walk me through organization each day.

I’d say organizational skills are among the most difficult to establish when a child is highly disorganized.  Learning to use routines, checklists, and breaking big tasks into small, manageable steps requires direct instruction for months or years.  Good organization ability is not a skill that is learned overnight.

That said, once a child learns to rely upon routine, checklists, and planning of his assignments, he will reach a point where he incorporates these tools and practices into his everyday life management.  The skills are well worth teaching both for your child’s schooling and for his long-term success in life.

Aug 042013

You Can Improve your child’s academic performance with Executive Functioning IEP Goals

When writing Executive Functioning IEP Goals, notice how measurable is each goal. If your child’s organization goals are NOT measurable, how will you know if your child is making progress?

By writing measurable goals, you and your child’s school will both KNOW if your child is improving in his skills. If you have measurable goals, you can adjust the goals as your child becomes more organized. Your child will become more organized when he’s making good progress on his goals.

Write Executive Functioning IEP Goals for Organization to help your child learn to:

– Keep track of homework papers.
– Keep track of assignment due dates.
– Remember to turn in assignments and homework.
– Remember to bring needed books home (or back to school).
– Develop organizational skills to manage his daily life.

You can use the example Executive Functioning IEP Goals for organization listed below to write similar goals for your child.

Examples of MEASURABLE Executive Functioning IEP Goals for Organization:

The Executive Functioning IEP Goals listed below are examples. They will need to be changed to fit your child’s needs.

The first IEP Goal for Organization can be used if your school (or you) will provide a brain-training or cognitive enhancement program. The program should improve your child’s cognitive processes. If your child is being provided a cognitive enhancement program, then you can set goals to track your child’s progress:

Here’s an Example of an IEP Goal for Executive Functioning:

[Your Child’s name] will improve in at least two of the following executive functioning indicators over this school year:

  • Distractibility Index (WISC III) – Target Score = 100 – (currently 87).
  • Processing Speed (WISC III) – Target Score = 100 – (currently 88).
  • Digit Span (WISC III) – Target Stanine score = 10 – (currently 7).
  • Coding (WISC III) – Target Stanine score = 10 – (currently 7).

NOTE: Each of the skills must be tracked, so you will know whether your child is meeting the Executive Functioning IEP Goals for Organization. Schools often set goals, but then some don’t track progress.  They’ll tell you your child is making progress at the next IEP meeting, but they don’t have any data. You should be able to say, “Show me the data,” and they should have some proof of progress.

Executive Functioning IEP Goals for Attending to Errors:

[Your Child’s Name] will self-initiate editing activities. [Child] will correct spelling, punctuation, capitalization and grammar on all typical classroom assignments in all settings .
7 out of 10 times by November.
8 out of 10 times by January.
9 out of 10 times by March.

[Your Child’s Name] will self-edit his work to correct spelling, punctuation, capitalization and grammar errors. [Child] will edit all typical classroom assignments in all settings to eliminate all errors from his work.
7 out of 10 times by November.
8 out of 10 times by January.
9 out of 10 times by March.

Executive Functioning IEP Goals for Self-Management:

[Your Child’s Name] will develop the ability to attend to individual tasks. [Child] will improve processing speed through the use of timers and cuing used with the entire class in the general classroom.

[Your Child’s Name] will improve organization skills for classroom work and homework through specific, repetitive instruction. [Child] will use:
· personal daily checklist.
· binder / notebook with labeled sections for each subject.
· homework folder with pocket dividers inserted in main binder / notebook.

Executive Functioning IEP Goals for Cognitive Program Completion:

[Your Child’s Name] will successfully complete 12 or more weeks of a proven cognitive enhancement program. (The program will address deficits in processing speed, short-term working memory, attention to detail, monitoring, sequencing and organization skills.) [Child’s Name] will receive instruction for at least 1 hour per day, every week day.

Since you don’t have a huge database of Executive Functioning IEP Goals to use, like a lot of schools do, you may want to get one of the following IEP Goal Books on Amazon. These books will provide you with additional goals to choose from, although the goals cover skills of all types:

You’re wise to arm yourself with the knowledge of how to write organizational goals. You want to be able to write goals that will meet your child’s individualized needs. Check out the section about how to WRITE specific, measurable IEP Goals for Organization Skills in Part II of this lesson.

Two notes about development of Executive Functioning IEP Goals:

Your child needs direct instruction in organization both at home and at school, so he can learn how to organize his school work. Your child’s IEP can contain Executive Functioning IEP Goals for both home and school.

When writing Executive Functioning IEP Goals, you may also find the pages for ADHD and Executive Functioning helpful. These are the two learning disabilities that cause organizational problems.  Understanding these two LDs will help you come up with better plans for helping your child. 😉

Learn how to write MEASURABLE IEP GOALS by reading the information in Part II. That will help you educate yourself about your child’s educational needs.

You may ALSO want to check out Assistive Technology for kids with Executive Functioning Disorder. Including the use of assistive technology in your Executive Functioning IEP Goals sets your child up for better long-term success.

Check related IEP Goals :

IEP Goals for Reading
Example IEP Goals for Spelling
IEP Goals for Written Expression
Example IEP Goals for Copying

backward in iep training IEP Goals for Organization forward in iep training

Aug 012013

Homework Planners can Keep Your Kid BETTER organized

Many children with ADHD, ADD, or executive functioning disorder have a horrible time keeping track of their homework. Assignments get completed, but lost. Parents are dismayed about how to help their child become organized, but sometimes homework planners and organizershomework planners and organizers are the answer.

In order to have good organization skills, your child must have the tools. The “Trapper Keeper” type of homework planners and organizers are among my favorites. They have pockets and sections for homework assignments. There is a checklist with all subjects where “completed” and “turned in” can be checked off for each school day. These lists can be made and printed monthly.

We have a free, downloadable weekly form at: ../downloadablepdfs/homeworkorganizer.pdf

The most helpful way to develop organizational skills is to establish a repeatable routine that is ‘enforced’ initially. After awhile the skills can be applied naturally as your child becomes accustomed to the routine.

For example, every day at the conclusion of homework.. Your child physically checks off a list of subjects, physically looking to see if he had an assignment, then physically putting the assignment in his homework planners. Nothing gets checked off until physically verified AND placed into the Trapper Keeper.

You have to train your child NOT to check off something because he “thinks” he didn’t have homework or thinks the assignment is in there. He must physically lay eyes on his assignment. It must be in his Trapper Keeper before he makes the check-off.

You will have to do this side-by-side with your child for several weeks before he has the process memorized and can handle it independently. Most importantly understand the necessity of this physical verification.

At the school end is often where you run into the most difficulty. Teachers are sometimes not willing to provide oversight. They may think your child “needs to learn”, except your child can’t learn without direct instruction and being taught. He needs oversight until the routine of using homework planners becomes firmly established. If you can, get your child’s teacher(s) to agree to a daily prompting routine, your child will learn how to use homework planners sooner.

You can have the teachers ask .. “Check your homework list.. Did you have homework in this class?”.. “If you did, it should be in your homework planners. You can turn it in now and check it off when you hand it to me”. The teacher would have to be willing to take on TEACHING responsibility to prompt your child directly, if needed, until the routine is established. This needs to be done in every subject, EVERY day, whether there is homework or not. The key is to establish a routine of looking for and turning in homework. This is a critical routine to establish in order for the disorganized child to become organized.

The child has to be taught to do the routine everyday in every class in order to be able to do it independently as he grows older. Unfortunately, getting ALL teachers to cooperate in this matter is often more difficult than moving mountains!!

There is usually at least one who thinks they shouldn’t have to do this. Some will outright refuse this area of teaching. (Somehow they expect the child to learn how to use homework planners and organizers without teaching!) :-/

If this routine can be started in elementary school when your child generally only has one teacher, it may be possible to establish the routine earlier on. Unfortunately, it doesn’t generally become a significant issue until the child starts changing classes & teachers. Having multiple teachers leads to the one or two teachers refusing to help teach the child. 🙁 But, if you can get most of your child’s teachers to cooperate, you should be well on the way to helping your child establish good organizational skills for homework. Using homework planners throughout his schooling career will help your child be better organized.

Jul 232013

Our Journey Overcoming Learning Disabilities

Overcoming Learning DisabilitiesI wasn’t sure if overcoming learning disabilities is possible, but I KNEW I must try for the sake of my son! An administrator had just barked at me in an IEP meeting:

“He may never read well, and he certainly is NOT college material! You just need to lower your expectations!”

Our Story: From BAD Public School Experiences to Overcoming Learning Disabilities

When we sent my oldest son off to kindergarten at our public school, he was a bubbly, talkative, outgoing child who loved learning.

My son was a walking encyclopedia of Science, and he loved learning. My son knew all kinds of facts about animals, nature, and he knew more about dinosaurs than anyone else I knew.

Sadly, after five years in public school, my son became sullen and depressed. My son wouldn’t look people in the eye, and he hardly spoke a word to anyone. My son began believing he was dumb, and we could hardly motivate him to work on his homework anymore. Tears and frustration began appearing every time he was expected to do schoolwork.

What happened between Kindergarten and the end of fourth grade?

During the summers after first and second grade, my son received diagnoses of having multiple learning disabilities. We thought the school would help him, but we were wrong.

Additionally, kids kicked my son on the playground and they shunned playing with him because of his disabilities. My son had his head bashed into a concrete wall to “knock some sense into him.” His classmates called him “moron.” His teacher told him not to bother to do assignments because he couldn’t do them anyway. The kids watched Braves baseball in reading resource class and played games because the teacher wanted them to “like coming to class.”

When I expressed concern because my son was going into fifth grade and still couldn’t read, an administrator said my son would probably never learn to read well. Clearly she didn’t believe overcoming learning disabilities is possible.

Our Last Straw

In an IEP meeting, the administrators and teachers literally laughed out loud when I said I thought my son was gifted and told them he wanted to go to college.

One administrator snapped at me, “He is NOT college material! You just need to lower your expectations!”

My son was bullied, belittled, and devalued almost every day at school. Furthermore, he made no meaningful educational progress during his five years in public school.

My son couldn’t read after five years, and his joyful, eager-to-learn spirit was crushed.

We reached the end of our rope and we withdrew our boys from public school. We wanted our boys to have a better chance in life than the school’s limiting beliefs would allow.

I had my doubts as to whether overcoming learning disabilities was possible, but I knew I had to try for the sake of my son.

Although I had no background in education, I figured I could do no worse than the public school.

Homeschooling Made Overcoming Learning Disabilities Possible

I read everything I could about my child’s disabilities, his learning style, and about the best way to teach him. I prayed–a LOT.

God’s placement of the right people and tools in my path was an important part of our success story.  Thankfully, God answered my prayers in a way that was far BIGGER than I ever anticipated.

Learning Abled Kids was born out of knowing my son was ABLE to learn and seeking God’s guidance. I believed in my son’s ABLED-ness. Educationally, he needed what every child needs to have:

overcoming learning disabilities

Homeschool Graduate

Do you want to know how well homeschooling works for Overcoming Learning Disabilities?

After eight years of homeschooling, every college to which he applied accepted my son for admission.  My son enrolled at a large state-run research University, where he received an Honors Scholarship and fully paid tuition.

On the ACT college entrance exam, my son’s composite score was at the 95th percentile. He scored at the 97th percentile in math and at the 99th percentile in Science.

When my son began attending college, he ranked as a college SOPHOMORE. He completed his freshman year of college while he was being homeschooled through high school. He had 39 credit hours, which he earned through dual enrollment and CLEP credit.

My son was on the Dean’s list almost every semester. During his senior year in college, my son made straight A’s, which put him on the President’s List for the entire year. Three National Honor’s Societies at college invited my son to join, and he is now a member of two of them.

My son graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree!

CLEARLY my son IS “college material.”

My son needed exactly what every child needs: teaching with love, encouragement, patience, and compassion.

There is no doubt in my mind that God set me on the right path to rescue my son from a terrible educational outcome. It’s sad to me that our school couldn’t see my son’s potential. It’s a national disgrace that many people fail to see the potential in learning abled kids.

The proper identification of a child’s needs, proven instructional programs, proper teaching, and lots of positive encouragement makes overcoming learning disabilities is possible. Your child may accomplish beyond expectations of others if his or her learning needs are pinpointed and properly addressed.

There are no guarantees that your child will be able to overcome his or her learning disabilities. However, it’s worth trying to homeschool if you are willing to take matters into your own hands!

If your child is experiencing educational neglect or abuse at school, I recommend taking matters into your own hands. You might find a lot of comfort in my Book, Overcome  Your Fear of Homeschooling. The book shares what it’s really like to homeschool a learning abled kid, and it’ll help you get past homeschooling stereotypes.

I’ve also written about the methods we used in The Dyslexia Help Handbook for Parents: Your Guide to Overcoming Dyslexia Including Tools You Can Use for Learning EmpowermentDyslexia Help Handbook for Parents book dyslexic dyslexie books.

Overcoming Learning Disabilities at Home is Possible

By meeting your child’s educational needs, you will give your child his very life–A life full of hope with a future where the sky is his limit. Your passion for your child’s education will make a difference for your child’s future. You may even find success overcoming learning disabilities like we did! 😀

homeschool for overcoming learning disabilitiesOvercoming Learning DisabilitiesPlease become an advocate for your child, believe in him, and teach him according to his needs–not by doing what is easy. Don’t let your child flounder in school year after year. Please DO something–anything–to help your child. He’s counting on you!

Check out our FREE Special Education Guidebook Online and see how we overcame dyslexia through homeschooling.

Doubt you can homeschool?

Please DON’T dismiss the idea of homeschooling without reading: Overcome Your Fear HomeschoolingOvercoming Learning Disabilities. Even if the thought terrifies you, homeschooling might be a LOT easier and more rewarding than you expect!

The thought of homeschooling made me shake in my shoes, but it was actually quite different from what I expected. You can always give it a temporary try just to see how it goes for you and your child!

Each child is a gift from God and raising your child is an opportunity for you to learn and grow. I have grown in countless ways by teaching my child. You may grow in patience, love, and understanding too, if you look at meeting your child’s needs as an opportunity to build a great future for your child. 😉

Check out other stories of overcoming learning disabilities through homeschooling.

Best of Luck and BELIEVE that Overcoming Learning Disabilities is POSSIBLE! 😀

Jul 122013

Looking for Language Arts Curriculum Homeschool Options for YOUR Learning Abled Kid?

Whether your child has dyslexia, dysgraphia, attention deficit disorder, or any other learning disability, studying reading, writing, grammar and spelling are often a struggle. Finding the RIGHT language arts homeschool curriculum is important for your child’s learning progress.

Over the years, there have been a number of language arts curriculum homeschool programs that parents of Learning Abled Kids repeatedly recommend. To help you out, I’ve created pages for each language arts skill area with listings of the programs other parents recommend. I figure our odds of picking the “right” program for our kids will be higher if we chose language arts curriculum other parents have used successfully.

Language Arts Curriculum Homeschool Options for Reading

Reading is one of the most critical academic skills for your child to master. Whether your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia or not, using proven reading programs can help your child learn to read. This reading page link will take you to a page that has multiple pages where reading programs are specifically listed. If you want to jump to the most comprehensive list of programs, visit the Orton Gillingham Reading Program for Dyslexia – 14 Choices page first.

Language Arts Curriculum Homeschool Options for Writing

Next to learning to read, learning how to communicate through writing is a critical life skill for your child. The title link above will take you to a page listing all of the writing-related pages. If you’d like to jump to the comprehensive list of writing programs first, visit the page.

Language Arts Curriculum Homeschool

Language Arts Curriculum Homeschool Options for Handwriting

You may also want to go to our handwriting page directly through the title link above. Handwriting and written expression are two different language arts curriculum needs you’ll have. If handwriting is a major issue, then you may also want to consider teaching your child keyboarding.

Language Arts Curriculum Homeschool Options for Spelling

Spelling is a task of great difficulty for children with dyslexia or executive functioning disorder. The specific, sequential nature of spelling makes it a skill that must be taught with specific, sequential instruction using Orton-Gillingham methods. Programs recommended are known to work for children with various learning difficulties.

Language Arts Curriculum Homeschool Options for Grammar

Proper word usage, punctuation, and proper sentence structure are elements of writing which can give a child with disabilities fits! Given the right program, a child can learn to properly format his sentences.

Language Arts Curriculum Homeschool Options for Vocabulary

Building a child’s vocabulary can be accomplished through traditional vocabulary programs or through the teaching of word roots. By learning Greek and Latin roots, a child can gain a broader understanding of language meanings. Although the initial teachings may be more difficult, there are many great “Roots” programs. There are also a large number of good traditional vocabulary programs. Which ever you choose, if it meets the needs of YOUR child, it is a GOOD program!

To make learning language arts easier for your child, you may also want to use Assistive Technology for Reading and Writing.

Jul 102013

Learning Handwriting For A Child with Dysgraphia.

If your child has dysgraphia, you know teaching your child to write legibly is difficult.

Even when your child works hard learning handwriting, progress can seem minimal.

Writing a readable composition is affected by two components of dysgraphia:

One is handwriting and the other is the organization and planning of good writing.

If your child has difficulty in either handwriting or organizing the writing, he will have difficulty writing. This is true even when your child is writing short stories or compositions. 

If your child’s difficulty is with learning handwriting, he may have difficulty with visual-motor integration, fine motor skills, etc. This page will focus on methods and curriculum for children who have difficulty with the physical task of learning handwriting.

First, let’s talk briefly about dysgraphia causing difficulty with organization skills and planning. When writing is badly spaced and sized, there can be a problem area like a deficit in executive functioning disorder. Executive functioning affects organization skills, sequencing, planning, etc. 

If your child needs help with the content of his writing, then it will be helpful for you to refer to the Recommended composition writing curriculum for homeschooling children with learning disabilities.

NOW, let’s talk about the isolated task of learning handwriting and how a child with dysgraphia can be helped more effectively.

Children with dysgraphia often hate writing by time they are diagnosed. Because of this, it is often a good idea to separate writing essays from learning handwriting. Find other fun ways of working on writing skills without actually having your child handwriting the essay. Let your child dictate to you, record an essay in a digital recorder, or use other assistive technology for dysgraphia.

In order to work on your child’s physical skills, starting with large format maze puzzles can be more fun than actually learning handwriting. If you start with large formats, your child can see how to get through the maze easily. Slowly move towards smaller, more difficult and complex mazes. This will help your child make progress in the skill areas necessary for handwriting without forcing the issue of learning handwriting. Most kids don’t even know working mazes is a way of working on learning handwriting!

Given your child’s needs to learn fine muscle control, using a pen or pencil to work through mazes can give your child lots of practice in a fun format. This type of practice is almost always more effective for kids who “hate to write”.

To build handwriting dexterity, I recommend starting with books like these:
Kindergarten Mazes: Simple Mazes For Kids

As your child’s ability to use a pencil improves, you may want to switch to books that provide more precise practice like these:
Maze Books for Kids

Another method for learning handwriting skills is through Multisensory activities. Handwriting with soap on a large flat pan, with a finger on velvet, with gross body movements with a large chalkboard, in a sand tray, etc. are all fun ways for learning handwriting.

If you have your child work on drawing in a pan with his finger, you can work on spelling through multi-sensory activities at the same time. You can help with both handwriting and spelling simultaneously.

Try to think of creative ways to let your child “play” with his school work. Building fun into learning handwriting will make the task of overcoming LD issues more rewarding along the way.

Learning Handwriting Separately from Writing

For any child with dysgraphia, learning handwriting and composition is very effortful. It takes a lot of brain processing to hold a written composition in your mind while figuring out what you want to say, organizing it, recalling the spelling, and writing each word, word-by-word, until you get the whole composition placed beautifully on a piece of paper.

For a child who has dysgraphia, there are often difficulties with working memory, phonemic awareness, graphomotor abilities, or other critical skills. Therefore, expecting great handwriting in written compositions is often unrealistic.

For best results, separating learning handwriting completely from writing compositions (written expression) usually enables the child to have better outcomes in each task. Using keyboarding, copying tasks, or a handwriting program is usually the best option for improving a child’s ability to get his thoughts onto paper in a legible fashion.

Written expression, or composition writing, should be addressed totally separately from learning handwriting. Check out the Written Expression Woes and What To Do About Them page for ideas about teaching written expression to a child with dysgraphia or handwriting difficulties.

Handwriting Programs for Kids Who Struggle

**Handwriting for Kids – This website provides printable guides for children learning to print or write cursive. The handwriting practice materials at this site are ‘traditional’ and not designed specifically for a child with learning disabilities. If you are looking for an inexpensive handwriting curriculum, this site is a great resource. However, it does not provide materials specific to teaching a child who is having difficulty with letter and number formation.

**Handwriting Help for Kidslearning handwriting – This program provides visual and verbal strategies for learning handwriting. The program was created by occupational therapists, so it is well-suited for kids who have difficulty with their grapho-motor (handwriting) skills. Children “swim, surf, and sail” their way through learning cursive writing. This program is a great way to allow your child to have fun while learning to write.

**Handwriting Without Tearslearning handwriting – This is the main program we used in the beginning. With this program, my child who HATES writing said that Cursive Writing was his favorite subject! Handwriting Without Tears is simple and very easy to follow. The directions are clear and the children can easily determine what to do. Handwriting Without Tears is successful because it simplifies learning handwriting. It builds on basic pencil strokes in order to form letters, and the program keeps the writing style simple.

**Italic Handwriting Books – We used this program as well. The Handwriting Without Tears program was great for getting started, but didn’t provide enough practice to actually overcome the issues with grapho-motor difficulties. The Italic series is easy to use because the letter formation is relatively simple (without much in the way of ornate decorative elements). It is easier for a child with handwriting difficulties to copy the letters than it is with some forms of handwriting that are more ornate.

**Audiblox – This is a program that addresses some of the underlying issues that contribute to dysgraphia. While this is not a program for learning handwriting, many of the skill deficits addressed through the program can help make a child’s writing more legible. This program will help with sequential planning (as needed in spelling), letter size, letter spacing, focus, etc.

You may want to check out these Free Downloadable Workbooks:

Spelling for Writing Workbooks – Downloadable from http://www.eric.ed.gov/ by entering the document number into the search box.

These workbooks begin with learning handwriting in conjunction with simple spelling exercises.

Spelling for Writing: Student Activity Book. Level 1. (ED451543) – document number ED451543
Spelling for Writing: Student Activity Book. Level 2. (ED451545) – document number ED451545
Spelling for Writing: Student Activity Book. Level 3. (ED451547) – document number ED451547
Spelling for Writing: Student Activity Book. Level 4. (ED451548) – document number ED451548
Spelling for Writing: Student Activity Book. Level 5. (ED451549) – document number ED451549
ED451542 – Spelling for Writing: A Guidebook for Parents and Teachers. Level 1. (ED451542)
ED451544 – Spelling for Writing: A Guidebook for Parents and Teachers. Level 2. (ED451544)
ED451546 – Spelling for Writing: A Guidebook for Parents and Teachers. Level 3. (ED451546)
ED448460 – Spelling for Writing: Instructional Strategies. (ED448460)

Jul 102013

Do You have a child who has been in public school for a few years, but still can’t read?

Are you considering overcoming dyslexia through homeschooling? WE DID! YOU CAN TOO!

My son was going into fifth grade and still couldn’t read and his school said they were doing all they could. They weren’t and that became abundantly clear when I began homeschooling a child with dyslexia, my son.

A WHOLE LOT was missing from my son’s program, so I set out to design a program that would help him learn to read in spite of his severe dyslexia. I researched WHAT WORKS and implemented it!

If you need to figure out what’s missing from your child’s program, you may be able to glean insights from the programs and methods we used for overcoming dyslexia through homeschooling.

We overcame our boys reading problems associated with dyslexia through phonemic awareness programs, Orton-Gillingham reading programs and software, vision therapy, reading aloud, and home schooling.

My oldest child’s reading level jumped from being anon-reader to a college-level grade equivalent in our first three years of homeschooling. Our outcomes far surpassed my expectations, and definitively blasted away the low expectations our school had when they told me, “He may never read well.”

The question I am asked most often is:

“How did you overcome dyslexia through homeschooling?”

If you’d like to know about our history and situation when we started homeschooling to overcome dyslexia, skip over the three links below, read to the bottom of the page, and there is a link there to take you to our first year’s plan. If you’d like comprehensive help with your child, check out The Dyslexia Help Handbook for Parents that I wrote.

If you want to go straight to the programs we used for overcoming dyslexia through homeschooling, here are the links to pages detailing our first three years:Overcoming Dyslexia through Homeschooling

Overcoming Dyslexia through Homeschooling: Our First Year

Overcoming Dyslexia through Homeschooling: Our Second Year

Overcoming Dyslexia through Homeschooling: Our Third Year

Below, I’ll give you a little background so you will understand how severe our challenges were. You may relate our challenges to your child’s challenges.

My child, who has severe dyslexia, had been in public school for five years. He received special education services for much of that time. After five years in public school, his latest Stanford-9 scores placed his reading score at a first grade, ninth month (1.9) grade equivalent. Private neuropsychological testing placed my son’s reading level at 0.9 GE, which is a kindergarten level.

Before we began home schooling, while our son was in second grade, he had the Lindamood-Bell LiPS program for a year at our local Scottish Rite center. That instruction took him from a non-reader to a 2.3 reading level, but his reading skills rapidly regressed during his third grade year in public school.

Because our son was regressing with a poorly provided Reading Resource program at school, we felt we HAD to begin home schooling if our son was ever going to succeed academically. After all, he wanted to go to college.

Given that my child was going into the fifth grade as a virtual non-reader, we could not see continuing in public school. Our son was receiving special education services, yet the services were totally ineffective. So, we began home schooling.  We used an Orton-Gillingham based reading program as well as a variety of other programs carefully selected to match my boys’ learning styles.

At the end of our first year of home schooling, my oldest son’s reading level tested at a sixth grade, second month (6.2) grade equivalent. At the end of our second year home schooling, our son’s reading level tested at a tenth grade (10.0) equivalent. This means he read the sixth grade test as well as a tenth grader. Our results were an astounding 8.1 grade-level increase in just two years.

By the end of our third year of homeschooling, when my son was in the seventh grade, he took the College Entrance ACT exam and scored better than 70% of high school graduates who took the exam. His reading level was at a 13+ grade equivalent, which meant he was able to read his grade-level texts as well as a college student.

Steps we Took Overcoming Dyslexia through Homeschooling:

First, we had a comprehensive evaluation showing our son had significant difficulty with phonemic awareness, ADHD, short-term working memory, a slow processing speed and executive functioning disorder. My son is also a highly visual learner and 3-dimensional thinker.

As a disclosure, if your child does not have a similar learning style (highly visual and secondarily kinesthetic) and a similar basis for his/her reading difficulties, the programs we used may or may not work for your child.  Please consider your child’s individual needs and only take from this page those elements that will be likely to work for your child.  As always, it is best if you have a comprehensive evaluation to determine your child’s specific learning disabilities.

NEXT –> See HOW we overcame dyslexia through homeschooling by looking at OUR FIRST YEAR’s programs and methods.

Overcoming Dyslexia through Homeschooling

Feb 062013

There are basically two options for getting an Educational Evaluation for your child–the public school system or a private practitioner (educational psychologist or neuropsychologist.) A neuropsychologist is your most qualified option.

Option #1: Publicly Paid For Educational Evaluation

The public school system is required, by law, to provide an educational evaluation for any child suspected of having a learning disability at no cost to you. However, the old adage of “you get what you pay for” almost always applies. The school system will test your child and tell you if she has a learning disability in whatever area of disability they determine she might have. Unfortunately, the educational evaluation is often provided without additional information about underlying causes.

For example, your school may tell you your child has a disability in “mathematical computation.”  You can probably figure out that disability indicator by yourself!

Additionally, if you go to the school system, depending upon their understanding of regulations (which is often very poor), they may THINK they can dictate what you do educationally. Some schools have been known to make parent’s lives miserable if they think they have a right to dictate a child’s schooling based upon an educational evaluation.

Option #2: A Private Educational Evaluation

The second alternative is having a professional educational evaluation by a private practitioner. Privately provided educational evaluations are only as good as the evaluator, so be careful who you choose.

We have totally wasted our money before by picking someone out of the phone book based upon an advertisement. We have also had an excellent educational evaluation done by a highly qualified neuropsychologist.  We found our highly qualified neuropsychologist through a recommendation from a special education attorney’s office.

A conscientious neuropsychologist evaluates all aspects of a child’s cognitive functioning including short-term, working memory, long-term memory, attention, processing speeds, comprehension, executive functioning, etc.  While you have already determined your child is having difficulty, you really don’t know what underlying cognitive processes are CAUSING your child’s difficulties.

Why Get a Comprehensive, Private Educational Evaluation

comprehensive educational evaluationWithout knowing the root cause of your child’s learning struggles, it is difficult to know precisely how to meet your child’s needs.

If her working-memory is at issue, then you would need to work on strengthening the amount of information she can hold in her head and manipulate.

If her verbal processing skills, processing speed, reasoning skills, etc. are at issue, then you would need to address whichever causes are at the heart of her learning difficulty.

The root causes are important because otherwise you can waste instructional time providing ineffective programs. As a real-case example, two brothers were both diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder.  The oldest brother’s ADHD was specified as “Inattentive type, secondary to dyslexia and executive functioning.”  The younger brother’s ADHD was specified as “Combined type, Primary.”

What does that mean? It means the oldest brother’s attention deficits were caused by his dyslexia and executive functioning (planning, sequencing, etc.) difficulties. For the oldest, when his dyslexia and executive functioning disorder were overcome, his ADHD disappeared.

Conversely, for the younger brother, his ADHD was primary. It CAUSED his difficulties with comprehension, memory, etc. As a root cause, managing the ADHD itself enabled the younger brother to keep his mind on his studies a LOT better.

As a parent, you aren’t likely to be able to determine if your child’s attention issues are primary or secondary. If ADHD is primary, treating the ADHD is the key. If the ADHD is secondary, then you may need to address the underlying cognitive processing issues to eliminate the ADHD tendencies. It’s a chicken and egg kind of question where only a highly qualified neuropsychologist can determine which comes first through an educational evaluation.

By you obtaining a comprehensive educational evaluation, you will know specifically what areas of cognition you need to work on with your child. The biggest hurdle with such an evaluation is cost.. It is EXPENSIVE. A neuropsychologist usually charges about $1500-$3000 for a comprehensive educational evaluation. The evaluation takes place over multiple days and usually is not covered by insurance unless ADHD is the PRIMARY diagnosis–then it is sometimes considered a medical issue.

If you can’t scrape up the money for testing and don’t want the public school trying to dictate your teaching, then I recommend using multi-sensory instructional methods and cognitive processing exercises as a blanket attempt to meet your child’s unspecified needs. We used Lexia Learning’s Cross Trainer (which used to be available as a computer program via CD, but is now only online).. You can check it out here:

For multi-sensory math instruction, Math-U-See is really good as is Cuisenaire Rods, Base Ten, or any other math program with manipulatives and preferrably an audio/visual component too.  Orton-Gillingham reading programs are supposed to be multi-sensory (although some are very limited in their multi-sensory components).  You can learn more about learning styles and multisensory teaching at:

Depending upon the severity of your child’s problems, you may be able to get away without an educational evaluation, but just know that as you try various avenues, you may or may not be hitting upon meeting your child’s actual needs. Getting a comprehensive, private educational evaluation let’s you know exactly which cognitive and academic skills you need to focus on.