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#1 of 10 Old 06-10-2011, 10:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm worried.  We just got back the results of my 11yo son's recent achievement testing, and here are the results:

 

Reading - 7th grade, 8th month level  thumb.gif

Handwriting skills- 6 years (not grade), 7th month level

Spelling - 2nd grade, 4th month level  (not sure about this one as it involved handwriting the answers!  Duh psychologist, he has dysgraphia!)

Math - 2nd grade, 0 month level  (I think the focus was on computation, not concepts.  He's better with concepts.)

 

(I'm glad grammar and composition weren't tested!)

 

He was diagnosed with Nonverbal Learning Disability, dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia at age 7 (and the diagnoses were reaffirmed during this round of testing).  So it's no surprise that these are areas of struggle.  But I was really surprised by how far behind grade level he is. 3-4 years in every "core subject" except reading.  I feel good about his reading skills, his science and history knowledge, his manners, his conversation skills, his improving social skills, his creativity, and the kind of person he is.  But what about practical skills in writing and math?  My son says he wants to go to college.

 

I can see feeling confident and secure when unschooling a child without learning differences.  But it's hard when LDs enter the picture.  What if they DON'T just pick it up when they're ready? 

 

Help!  crap.gif


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#2 of 10 Old 06-11-2011, 10:07 AM
 
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Learning differences or none, at some point I would jump in (and I HAVE done this with my own son who, if in a school setting, would probably be diagnosed with ADD to say the very least)....and say look honey, I want you to be ready to pursue whatever you want to pursue in life. And I can see that some of these things that you haven't mastered yet are holding you back (or they will). [usually I call these the "toolbox"...writing, reading, and math]

 

My son is so brilliant yet dreamy/scatter-brained....he would probably never get around to certain things, and then when it was time to know them (i.e. to get into college or some class he wanted) then he could (as some kids would) just crack down and learn what he had to OR (and I've seen this with my son) he'd get panicked and freak out, and/or also draw the conclusion that he's stupid or can't do it and start to build what I've recently dubbed a "fear-wall." That is, the fear gets bigger than the difficulty of just learning the topic, and it starts to become a barrier.

 

As an example, just the other day we were trying to have a conversation over the dinner table about world events, and my son started to cry as he tried to express himself but didn't realize if a certain place was a state or a country, and he blurted out "I just don't know anything about geography." He was really upset about it. So that was my cue. I got out some geography lessons and he was PLEASED to do them. I think he really wanted me to intervene. Our not-doing lessons had led to a deficit that was clearly bothering him, but he probably wouldn't have walked up to me and said "Hey mom, I need to study Geography," or "where can I find a geography book?". He's a very creative guy and spends all day playing and/or writing stories, which is great, but left to his own devices he would not have helped himself here until he was truly up against it. I'd rather he not wait until he's up against it. I truly, truly want him to have the confidence that comes with being educated. So sometimes I do step in. The skill that he then has, leads him to feel confident, which of course leads to a can-do attitude about pursuing the subject further.

 

It's a dance of sorts.  :-)  As you can tell, we are not pure-unschooling. We're more unschooly-eclectic.

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#3 of 10 Old 06-11-2011, 01:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your thoughtful reply!  I absolutely LOVE your fear wall analogy.  I think I will introduce that concept to my son.  I see that happening in math, definitely.

 

The thing is, I don't attribute being "behind" to unschooling at all.  In fact, it was the difficulty and anxiety caused by trying to learn in traditional ways that led us to unschooling in the first place.  So unschooling has become our style by default--after nothing else worked!  It's the result, not the cause of the learning challenges.  Does that make sense? 

 

Because we've tried several different math programs (Modern Press Math, Math-U-See, EZ Times Tables, Teaching Textbooks, "Living Math") and haven't had much success, I don't really know how to intervene,  I know that my son learns concepts and useful, daily-life math skills as needed when they come up in real life.  And that's awesome!  (I grew up in honors programs, and useful, practical skills were sorely lacking!)  But other neurological processing deficits that my son has makes it almost impossible for him to memorize math facts or remember the sequential steps involved in doing math. 

 

I've never said or written this before, but my fear is that he can't learn math--at least not to the level of high school equivalency and getting into college.  gloomy.gif

 

I am planning to get him some more OT for handwriting though.


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#4 of 10 Old 06-11-2011, 05:04 PM
 
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Other ideas for math are Touchmath, Rightstart and Waldorf math. I think unschooling or not, if our kids have learning issues, matching up materials to the learner becomes critical.

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#5 of 10 Old 06-11-2011, 07:10 PM
 
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I don't know if your son can learn math or not, but if his problems stem from a learning disability, that shouldn't necessarily stop him from getting into college. A think a lot of colleges are flexible with things like that, for example maybe waiving math prerequisites (assuming he isn't trying to enter a mathematical field). Kind of an aside, but just in case that helps with your concern...


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#6 of 10 Old 06-11-2011, 07:24 PM
 
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I used to struggle with not knowing HOW (i.e. what resources, method, etc) to use with teaching math. We tried Singapore, we toyed with the idea of Math U See....I don't know, they just all seemed too needlessly complicated. Instead I ended up with this great old math textbook (I used to pick them up at yard sales) which seemed very basic, no-frills, and explained the math in a way that made sense to me (and if it makes sense to ME, I'm going to be able to help him with it). And, believing that the forcing of worksheets and practicing would cause stress (I knew this from experience), and knowing that my son is the type of learner who does things his OWN way, I ended up with an ingenious solution. Every day I'd "read to him" from the math book. I just had to get the information to him, so he'd know it was out there, you know? So he'd know what kinds of problems can be solved with math, etc. Well wouldn't you know, he just can't STAND having me read this stuff without jumping in halfway through it and saying "Let me try! Let me try!" His idea! And so I do let him try, and the door to teaching has been opened.

 

He loves math, by the way. He's "behind" by school standards, but he "gets it" most of the time, and can see the patterns that are there, and finds ways to solve problems, and all that. And just that small amount of work (and success) has given him the attitude "I love math!" which as we all know makes someone want to learn more, and be receptive to more. So even though he's technically behind what the books say are his grade (second grade), I don't mind. He has a tiny bit of success under his belt, he loves it, and because of that, I'm sure that when the time comes that he NEEDS to really get up to speed, he surely will. Had I stuck with a daily drill of worksheets or other torture, he would surely hate math by now. And not every kid is this way; it's just the way I finally figured out my own son is.  :-)

 

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#7 of 10 Old 06-11-2011, 10:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for saying this, Igyre.  I've been wondering if colleges have any accomodations for students with LDs. 

 

The psychologist's report said that my son has trouble with visual processing, spatial processing, working memory, processing speed, cognitive flexibility, reversals of symbols (#s and letters) and he doesn't process operational symbols.  He can't switch from addition to subtraction to multiplication, etc.  Because he has trouble with working memory, he can't keep all the details in his head and manipulate them in his mind to do complicated math problems. 

 

The testing validated the results I see at home.  But I don't know where to go from here.  I feel really alone with this.  :( 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lgyre View Post

I don't know if your son can learn math or not, but if his problems stem from a learning disability, that shouldn't necessarily stop him from getting into college. A think a lot of colleges are flexible with things like that, for example maybe waiving math prerequisites (assuming he isn't trying to enter a mathematical field). Kind of an aside, but just in case that helps with your concern...



 


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#8 of 10 Old 06-11-2011, 11:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm glad you found what works for your son, NellieKatz!  You know, that just made me think of something.  Watching Cyberchase is something my son likes to do, and it involves math.  He also likes to play computer and video games that include making money and buying things and selling things.  I guess these are okay with him because the math is secondary to the fun.  He does get math concepts--but that doesn't usually translate to being able to do the computation part.     
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NellieKatz View Post

I used to struggle with not knowing HOW (i.e. what resources, method, etc) to use with teaching math. We tried Singapore, we toyed with the idea of Math U See....I don't know, they just all seemed too needlessly complicated. Instead I ended up with this great old math textbook (I used to pick them up at yard sales) which seemed very basic, no-frills, and explained the math in a way that made sense to me (and if it makes sense to ME, I'm going to be able to help him with it). And, believing that the forcing of worksheets and practicing would cause stress (I knew this from experience), and knowing that my son is the type of learner who does things his OWN way, I ended up with an ingenious solution. Every day I'd "read to him" from the math book. I just had to get the information to him, so he'd know it was out there, you know?


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#9 of 10 Old 06-12-2011, 08:50 AM
 
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How about a tutor for math?  

 

I only say this because he is behind in this area, you are worried, and you have tried teaching him math to little avail.

 

Maybe someone else will be helpful?  Pick someone who loves math and is experienced.  

 

I do think it is possible for kids to bloom in math later in life - but you are worried, he wants to go to college, he has some learning disabilites....  I would err on the side of caution and give something a shot.  

 

I have done my fair share of hand-wringing over the years on writing.  

 

My eldest also has dysgraphia, and still has really poor handwriting (perhaps always will).  He does everything on computer.  He writes at grade level, and is indeed taking a grade 9 academic English class online with no problem. I do not think he could write a proper sentence at age 11.  I do not think writing is rocket science - it is an area and skill you can pick up and practice when you feel the need.  It would worry me less than math.  YMMV.

 

Ways to encourage writing skills:

-help him find places he wants to write - be it online or a penpal.  

-Decent essay writing (which is what he needs for secondary and post secondary school) involves making an argument and backing it up.  Discuss everything, read everything, compare and contrast verbally even if you cannot get him to do it in writing at this point.

 

I also have my son fill out any form that is his.  For years I filled out form for him, but he has so little opportunity to practice his handwriting and he does need to have handwriting that is sufficient to fill out forms.  I was not doing him any favours.  There are others things you can do, but you are going to OT so I will not go into it here.  

 

 

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#10 of 10 Old 06-13-2011, 11:18 AM
 
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Those to-the-month rankings seem a bit overboard to me. Like what does 2nd grade 0 month level mean? You don't have to let those interpretations mean anything, especially since your son has his whole life to improve his skills if he needs them.

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