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I need some ideas and words of support to help my daughter (and me!).

My bent is unschooling yet I don't often describe myself as such because I'm a bit of a meddler.
(Sorry! Former teacher and perfectionist here!)

My daughter is nearly 9. She can read at a Frog and Toad level. Most of her friends are *very* advanced readers and my daughter is aware of that and bothered that she isn't where they are. She doesn't think of herself as a reader.

She is also frustrated with writing, calling herself a "bad writer". She has reversals and gets frustrated with not being able to spell correctly (although this is her perception of what is necessary, not mine).

Getting as far as she had with writing and reading has been a struggle for her. I REALLY want to believe she'll sort it all out and it will be smooth sailing. However, in my heart of hearts, I worry that she won't/can't sort it out naturally. She had 3 years of speech from ages 3-6 for articulation issues. I'm concerned those articulation issues (which are mostly corrected) are causing some written language delays.

How do I help her from here? She says she wants to be a "good writer" (her words). Yet, she isn't the kind of child that would initiate that learning experience, it would have to come at my suggestion. She would comply but there will be tears and frustration over it (which I'm willing to navigate).

How do I follow her lead if neither of us know where we are going?

Do I initiate time together to write and read? Is that not very unschooling-ish?

Sigh...this is hard work being a Mama!
 

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Just to clarify...when you say "write"...do you mean the actual mechanics of using a pencil or pen and writing down words....or do you mean "writing" as in, coming up with a plot, creating characters, being able to express her thoughts via the written word?

And reading....if you read to her, is she able to understand more complex books? Is it just that she herself is not yet reading more advanced books but is intellectually able to understand them?

Katherine
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
To clarify:

She can form all of her letters, yet often forgets which way they "go". She is defining writing as ability to put the letters down correctly and spell correctly. She's only really written thank you notes and letters. Nothing so complex as a story.

As for reading, she comprehends at a very high level. Anne of Green Gables, for example, was hard to comprehend because of the use of language which is now outdated. She follows plots quite well; I have no concerns there.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by rosehillworks View Post
Could she be dyslexic? I have a son that is and when I bought the sequential spelling it made sense to him. He sees things in patterns very easily. Just a thought.
That's what I was thinking. I'd have it checked out just in case, for sure.

If you can find a sheet of colored see through plastic (a friend of mine used the color plastic wrap) and put it over the book, she may be able to see things better, but this doesn't work for everyone. Also using colored pencils or pens/markers to write with may help. I'd also agree with looking into sequential spelling http://www.avko.org/sequentialspelling.html.

IMO it's not "unschooling" if you are searching out and using tools with your child at your child's request to aid in what your child wants to do. I also believe that it's still "unschooling" when you, at your child's request, aid your child in whatever way, even if it's "school like" helps your child learn what they want to learn.

In your case, it sounds like your dd is asking for help, guidance, tools, and support in grasping the written language. IMO who gives a rat's pattotie if it doesn't fit perfectly under someone else's idea of what "unschooling" is, as long as it fits your child's needs and the child is asking for it.

My dd9 prefers more structure and loves "school like" stuff, charts, lesson plans and so forth. So I provide her the tools she asks for with her input on what kind, and give her free will to use them as she deems best for her. She is a much calmer, focused person when she has her mark off chart of lessons and chores she wants to do. Many "unschoolers" would tell me I'm not "unschooling" since she uses school like tools. I don't care, it's what she asks for and is more relaxed and happy using them. They don't have to live with her when she feels out of whack, I do.

If you haven't' noticed yet, I really can not stand the term "unschooling", mainly because it's such a broad umbrella, but the connotation and the idea that comes to mind seems to be only for the radical unschoolers.

So instead, I just say we're, "relaxed and eclectic Autodidacts".
 

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I just finished a book, I think Homeschooling our Children, Unschooling Ourselves adn in that book her child had trouble with reversals etc. until he learned cursive. SInce cursive flows left to write I guess it is harder to do reversals. Just thought I would mention that in case it could apply.
 

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An educational specialist who used to do talks around here had a lifetime of experience behind her and has retired now. She often said that the fastest way she'd ever seen handwriting improve was to get the child to swing from hand to hand on monkey rings or bars - it had to do with neurological connections with the left/right movement dynamics and development of the musculature involved. Anyway, it seems as if it would be well worthwhile to find some rings or bars she can swing from.

I'd be sure to read lots and lots of wonderful books to her, and have lots of beautiful and captivating picture books that she can peruse when she wants - a nice way to be comfortable with also perusing text at her leisure. I really like the Children's Picture Books site - they review books on all subjects that are suitable for a wide range of ages. And having interesting books around about things that particularly interest her can possibly encourage her to get into the habit of picking up books to look at when looking for information.

But I wouldn't wait for her to suggest reading to her if that's what you mean - I'd just go ahead and suggest it frequently. Unschooling doesn't mean standing back and waiting for suggestions - you can make suggestions of your own, but they'll be much more welcome if you feel confident about it being okay to do so.

Have you also looked into the possibility of dyslexia or vision skill problems? These things can be pretty subtle to notice, but can be pretty easily improved. I'm on the run this morning, but I'll get back if something else comes to mind. - Lillian
 

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From his many years of experience in alternative classrooms, John Holt came to the conclusion that the average age that children learn to read naturally (i.e. without being led or coerced) is age 9, that there is a spectrum of normal from about age 4 to age 14, and that when the child is truly ready it will happen relatively quickly and easily. My oldest struggled until he was 10, when it clicked for him, and only a year later he is reading adult level fiction. He's never been "not capable" -- his brain just wasn't ready for it earlier. You can read more about it on my blog (link below, click on the "learning to read" category, start from the bottom.)

People develop at different rates. My kids all started walking around 8 months of age, much earlier than anyone we know. It doesn't mean that they're better in any way, and in fact everyone has caught up with them, and nobody knows the difference anymore! Somehow, everyone can walk as well as them now. My mom didn't talk until she was three years old (just like the legendary story about Einstein) and yet she grew up to be completely fluent in the English language.


So I know you know this, but maybe your daughter just needs to be reminded that it's really true. And that she'll be okay.
I'm sure that there are things that she's better than her friends at (currently, but maybe they'll excell at some or others in their own time and own way) -- maybe it's recognizing people's feelings, or imagination, or drawing, or wondering and questioning -- the only difference is that these aren't things that people try to put on a schedule of achievement, or that they even necessarily think about in comparing people to each other.
 

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My son has EXACTLY these problems!! I read over the dyslexia and the vision skills problems list on Lillians page and was SHOCKED. Thank you for posting this helpful info. I am calling tomorrow to get him scheduled for a vision test.

Oh, and he does wear glasses.
 

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Another way in which visual processing can be an issue is that children tend to be naturally far-sighted. Meaning that it is difficult for them to focus up close. This is normal. If children are led to read before they feel comfortable with it (i.e. are physically ready,) they may experience eye-strain which makes the work unpleasant (so they resist it,) and that can interfere with vision developing normally. One not uncommon result of struggling to focus is optical divergence -- the eyes stop working together. If a child is determined to read at an early age (before 10) I'd have their near vision tested and get prescription reading glasses if necessary to decrease strain.
 
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