learning disabilities and unschooling - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 05-08-2005, 12:00 PM - Thread Starter
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A major part of the reason I took YoungSon out of public school was his learning disabilities (and speech delay and all that sort of stuff) were the focus of the attention he received; no one ever noticed that this kid is really bright and has insight and intuition above the level of many adults. I didn't like that he was becoming convinced of the long list of things he could not do, rather than his strengths. He has blossomed in many ways in the last year. Speech has way improved, maybe due to the lower stress, more likely he had just matured neurologically and out-grown the problem. In my more self-confident moments, I trust that reading and writing will eventually follow this course, and he will teach himself to read like my other 2 "typical" kids (I am happy to help, but believe it mostly is internal). I read to him 3-5 hours a day - fiction and non-fiction, kid and adult. Believe me, this is his schedule, not mine. The problem is he really wants to read, and is frustrated - but it really is so painful for him - he knows the idea of phonics, but it just hasn't "clicked" yet. He can barely write his name. I would love to help him, but the normal reading and writing practice methods simply don't work for him.

My questions are:

1. Does anyone know of alternative reading and writing learning methods that are used for learning disabled kids? Are any adaptable to a fairly unstructured style? We have tried Hooked on Phonics - waste of money for us 2 years ago; I gave it away. Should I buy it again and try it again, now that he is older?

2. Should I check into Sylvan Learning Centers or the like? I doubt I can afford it right now anyway, but what do they do? Is their program I something I could copy myself at home?

3. Am I doing him a disservice by not pushing? Is it going too far with my laid-back, hippie outlook, or is the "right" approach? If he were not so anxious to read and write himself, I would be sort of OK with him never learning. I am a book-obsessed nerd, but I realize not everyone is, and it is entirely possible to have a wonderful, productive, happy life without reading.

4. Have any other unschool/homeschool families dealt with a kid for whom it is such a struggle? My others learned reading like walking and talking - it all came so naturally - with this guy it just isn't like that.

Any suggestions or insight would be welcome. As you can tell, I am having a self-doubt moment - I do this occassionally, but I get over it pretty easily.

Rhu - mother,grandmother,daughter,sister,friend-foster,adoptive,and biological;not necessarily in that order. Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way (Jimmy Buffet)

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#2 of 7 Old 05-08-2005, 12:10 PM
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Some unschoolers with older non-reading kids seem to like "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" (I think that's the name of it, something like that). It's very adaptable, most people I know have skipped the writing parts of it and just did the reading... it's cheaper than Sylvan or HOP, anyway.

Software? Reader Rabbit, maybe?

I think just waiting is okay,too, if he's willing - he's still pretty young - but if he wants to do something, those are some ideas.


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#3 of 7 Old 05-08-2005, 12:18 PM
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I hope you don't mind if I answer you and express my thoughts.

We are an homeschooling/unschooling family, 20+ years.

I know there are people who like Hooked On Phonics, and it may work for them in the purpose they may have for it, but I think it is a waste of money...

Sylvan can be good in some instances, but if your child is not in school, this is also a waste of money.

You are not doing a disservice in not "pushing" your child. The time you are investing with him will do so much for him.

I found John Holt's books to be really good and The Homeschool Manual (Wade) has a scope and sequence in it for every grade which I used to use to fill out my official "paperwork". Another favorite book is The Hurried Child which I have kept in mind as we raise my children. Also good are Better Late Than Early and School Can Wait by The Moores.

I am going to list a few links. Please pm or email me and I am always glad to help more.

















Specifically "Special Needs" related:







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#4 of 7 Old 05-08-2005, 02:25 PM
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My older DD had multiple delays as a preschooler and I'm sure would be labled LD if she were in school. She really needs information presented in a clear, logical way. When she was learning to read she enjoyed Reading Reflex. It is book (about $20) that has little puzzles you cut out. It can be used in a very relaxed, open ended way.

Handwriting without Tears is a wonderful program. It was written by a mom whose child wasn't learning with traditional methods.
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#5 of 7 Old 05-08-2005, 04:23 PM
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I'm an unschooling mom who has had three 'natural readers' so far but would not hesitate to use a systematic phonics instruction program if I had a child who was motivated yet not 'getting it' the natural way. And Reading Reflex is what I'd use, at least as a first try. I know a number of unschooling families who have used it in much the way that I think you're suggesting ... flexibly, according to the interest of the child.


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#6 of 7 Old 05-09-2005, 11:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Mamas for all the support and links. I am already familiar with Sandra Dodd and John Holt (aside: I met him in maybe 1970 when I was 13 and on a speaking tour of US and Canadian universities, talking about - what else - unschooling. Forgive the bragging/namedropping, please). I'm looking forwad to checking out the other links.

I am just going through one of my occassional spells of questioning what I know is right. I guess it is normal - wanting so badly to do the best by my kids, needing reassurance that my radical ideas have merit. Although my family is fairly supportive, I feel the need around them (my Mom especially) to defend unschooling, to sound 100% confident in my lifestyle. Thank you mamas, and MDC, for being a place I can be honest, and ask questions without hearing all the arguements against the major beliefs I hold dear.

Rhu - mother,grandmother,daughter,sister,friend-foster,adoptive,and biological;not necessarily in that order. Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way (Jimmy Buffet)

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#7 of 7 Old 05-09-2005, 08:48 PM
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Just had to comment. My son also had delayed speech and numerous other problems. No, he is not stupid, but he does not learn like other kids. It sounds like your child may be similar.

The phonics programs OFTEN won't work with these kids. What did work was Scientific Spelling by Neuhaus. I believe you can find them at http://www.neuhaus.org. Definitely check them out. My son had a reading specialist work with him once or twice a week for 2 years and after that he was reading.

Yes, it's true that some kids simply won't learn to read until a later age. But when you already have warning signs like delayed speech and the fact that your child WANTS to read and is still unable to catch on, I would pay close attention.

Being a homeschooler, you can really tailor what you do to fit his needs which is how I have taught my son. Also, if you learn about the scientific spelling program, you can teach it to your son yourself. Nor are there programs that expensive. I bought a grammar program which taught the parts of speech, tenses (past, present, future) and related information for $25. I expect that the scientific spelling program costs $200-300, but if it is what works, it will be less expensive than trying out dozens of other programs.
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