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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 10 yo son was diagnosed at 7 with dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia. Once he learned to read well (at about 8), reading became one of his favorite things to do. He's naturally interested in science, especially nature and animals, and likes history. He likes music and theater and is very imaginative. He has good manners, is cooperative for the most part, has friends, and gets along well with people. All of this is great. He's a happy kid overall. Worlds better than when he went to school.<br><br>
But he can't write a sentence longer than a few words and he spells at about a 2nd grade level. He has no interest in writing or spelling or even typing. He wants nothing to do with math. Nothing. He said it's like a foreign language and he doesn't speak it. He would rather not learn math and just use a calculator.<br><br>
We unschooled for 4th grade this year, and for the first time, we didn't use a writing program or a math program. We haven't ever really "studied" spelling, so we didn't use a spelling program either. (I believed he'd pick it up on his own by reading.) He didn't choose to do these things on his own. He was perfectly happy to not have to write or do math. This has probably been his favorite school year! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngtongue.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Stick Out Tongue"><br><br>
Here's where I'm stuck. I believe that kids can learn things naturally, and I see it working for us in science, history, music, life. But it's not happening in the areas he has learning issues. He reads great, but that doesn't tranfer to the ability to spell the words he reads. How does the philosophy of unschooling account for kids with perception problems and learning disabilities? It sounds great in theory, but what about when there's a real roadblock there? How long can a parent wait for readiness before it becomes a failure to intervene? Writing and spelling and computation are skills that are needed for real life.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>ReadingMama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15413829"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Writing and spelling and computation are skills that are needed for real life.</div>
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My feeling about this is the same, whether dx with LDs or not--when he has a need for these skills, then they will become important to him and he'll work at acquiring them. To me, that's key to unschooling, and an LD dx doesn't change that. (If you didn't have the diagnosis, how would that change your unschooling?) I think having a dx makes it more stressful on us parents because, while unschooling is weird enough on its own, a dx of an LD usually comes with a push for early intervention, extra help, and focused work on the "problem" areas, yk? All of which went against my thinking on unschooling.<br><br>
It's hard when a child is resistant to learning certain things, but eventually he'll NEED to write and spell and do computations. Once that opening occurs, the learning will come easier than what happens when you're trying to convince a kid he needs to learn something. You might end up using a program at some point -- if that's what he wants, if that's what works best for him, why not?<br><br>
Also, 10 is still pretty young--there are plenty of unschoolers who are not reading, or doing much math or writing at that age. Opportunites will come up though: some games require writing, he might need to take a phone message for someone, or write a letter or fill out a form. If he's doing research online he might want to jot down some notes. If he's saving up to buy something, or figuring sales tax, he'll need to do the math. I would give it some more time while being aware of the openings that occur where you might say, "Hey, can I show you how to do that?" or "I could help you to learn that if you want" or whatever.<br><br>
If it's a case of lack of interest, that's what I'd do. If, otoh, he WANTED to learn these skills but views them as too hard for him to learn, then that's a different story.
 

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OP, your post reminds me of a realisation that I shared recently. Since my kids 'naturally' picked up reading, basic math, science, whatever, through my hands-off unschooling ways, I declared, 'see', unschooling works.<br><br>
But that's not actually why one chooses unschooling, nor proof of anything. Truly unschooling (I'm not talking dogma here, but just my own perspective) is about really believing that what matters to my child will be learned, and if it doesn't matter, they won't want or need to learn it. And they'll build their lives accordingly, without wasting time on things they do not NEED to know.<br><br>
I learned the times table in school. As an adult I have no recollection of them, and work it out slowly in my head. No issue or problem for me, my chosen career and interests do not require that info. My DH, he does remember his tables, because his *chosen* field requires him to do a lot of math, so it's helped him to use that skill.<br><br>
If your son wants to use a calc, why is that not okay? Now please know, I'm not aying that flippantly or as a challenge. A lot of thinking and reading over the past year has me questioning so many of my tenets of learning and success. So I am honestly saying, what if he only uses a calc? He'd obviously have a general understanding of what he's doing (what numbers to press and why) so he's 'getting' a sense of the issue, and finding his solution. For now, his experience of mathematics will be more positive and he'll feel he can do it, raher than avoid it like stink because he feels it's a challenge he cannot mold to his skill level. That he must do it a certain way, not his way. If he finds a passion or career that doesn't require more than that, he's set. If he finds, like I did, that the corner store job has a cash register that doesn't tell him the right change to give, he'll need to find his own way of computing it (maybe he brings his calc, maybe he learns a way to make math make sense to him in his head) or he'll find anoter job.<br><br>
I never enjoyed complex math, and I've chosen careers and interests that do not involve the math stuff I do not know. My dh has a crap sense of direction, so he carries an iphone thingy with a gps mapping program. We can all find our ways of handling the hurdles, I believe.<br><br>
I think his interests in other topics that are school-like (science, music) set us parents up to assume everything else will come. but part of the beauty of unschooling is that they can follow their interests, not someone else's idea of what they should learn. I mean, who really is interested in every subject they teach in school?<br><br>
I'm not familiar with the dx's you've listed, but I am wondering: if these are areas that he is already challenged by, and other areas are easier for him, and he naturally goes to those, is that any different than someone just having a big passion for one area? I mean, is there an expectation that dyslexic children/people will eventually love to read, or can it be accepted that they'll learn enough to meet their needs and then go back to the stuff they really enjoy? kwim? there are certainly folks who read just enough to get by and otherwise don't have a love for reading. I know he's younger and your concern is he needs to read a bit, even street signs and fod labels/instructons, but as PP said, he's still young, and within the window of when kids learn to read (I have 2 friends with homeschooled 10y.o.'s who cannot read yet).<br><br><br>
Maybe it's kind of like seeing the glass half empty instead of full. That your child enjoys so many things, and seing those joys, not the things he'd rather ignore.<br><br><br>
WCM
 

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My ds is also, at age 9, a voracious reader who cannot write a word. It makes sense, though, if you think about it. Most (all?) kids that are labelled (LD, dysgraphic, dyslexic) are right brain thinkers and learn in a very different manner than their left brain counterparts. They tend to be visual and whole to part learners. For example, my ds learned the letters of the alphabet and knew what sound each letter made, but when you put those letters together to form a simple word, he just didn't get it. He could tell you that the letters c-a-t made the sounds 'k' 'ah' and 't', but not that it said cat. He had to learn the entire word, almost like a picture in his brain, before he could read it. So the word 'sent' was just as difficult as the word 'dictionary'. Therefore, it took longer for him to learn to read -- he basically had to create a dictionary in his brain with enough words in it to read fluently. A lot of these kids are also very bright and easily bored, so basal readers just don't do it for them.<br><br>
I'm assuming that writing will come the same way -- that at some point he'll be able to reproduce the word that is in his brain dictionary. From things that I've read, reading for right brain children happens between 8-10 and writing doesn't have until 10-12 (I think - don't quote me on the numbers). They have their own developmental continuum.<br><br>
I work with "LD" kids in the school system and despite all the 'interventions' and 'special asistance' a lot of these kids still don't write. I'm pretty positive that if left to learn in their own way and in their own time, they would be able to read and write. However, I've accepted the possibility that my ds won't ever write. If that happens, we'll get the program 'dragon' and he'll dictate his writings.<br><br>
In the meantime, there is so much to writing that he is developing. All that reading is growing his literary mind. He likes to dictate his stories to me - his vocabulary, sentence structure, grammar, linear story-telling, and coherence are all excellent - probably above '''average'''. I figure he's developing the cognitive part of writing and the technical part - the spelling and pen to paper part will come when it comes.<br><br>
Here's a great blog from a lady who's really changed my perspective on these types of learners. These two entries are especially pertinent.<br><br><a href="http://applestars.homeschooljournal.net/2010/03/12/timeframes-challenges-and-disabilities/" target="_blank">http://applestars.homeschooljournal....-disabilities/</a><br><br><a href="http://applestars.homeschooljournal.net/an-introduction-to-the-creative-right-brained-learner/" target="_blank">http://applestars.homeschooljournal....ained-learner/</a>
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Sagmom-As a result of this post, he and I had a conversation about his goals for himself. He said he wants to focus on reading, history, spending time in nature, learning woodsman skills, earning Scout pins, and typing (mostly to help with online gaming) next year. For spelling, he's not really interested in it, but he doesn't want other kids to make fun of him for not knowing how to spell. And he knows it will come in useful for online gaming, so he's willing to do it for that reason. That was news to me! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up"><br><br>
He thinks math is too hard for him AND he's not interested in it. He says that traditional math learning isn't "real life math," and that he's ok with real life math (measuring when he builds something, adding or subtracting small numbers when spending his money--just like you mentioned). He says he hates math and wants nothing to do with it--but, he also says he wants to go to college when he's older and he knows he needs math to pass the SAT/ACT to get in. I'm not sure when it will be time to try to catch up so that's possible.<br><br>
WCM-I do let him use the calculator, and he also uses math fact lists so he can look up the answer (to reinforce the visual picture of the fact). I don't mind the calculator--especially now that I know you can use one for the SAT/ACT. What I meant was, he'd like to just use a calculator and bypass regular math learning. But can all math (including that needed to get into college) be learned through real life situations? My husband says to just let him use a calculator and focus on real life math as it comes up, and to just have faith that he'll eventually want to learn more. Here's my fear: What if he wants to learn math at some point because he knows he'll need it to get into college, but because of his learning issues, he can't? And then he'll be so far behind (because we didn't work on it much before he was interested).<br><br>
You're right about our tendency to develop passions for things we're good at. It's natural to avoid things that are hard. My son is a great reader and great at science, and therefore he likes those things alot. Writing and math, not so much. I guess I'm just caught up in worrying about practical things--like skills. I wish I could be a confident unschooler, but so far that goal eludes me!
 

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My dd11 sounds very similar to your son – she was diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and ‘disorder of written expression’ at age 8 (no dyscalculia—but like many dyslexic kids, she hit a wall when she tried to learn the multiplication tables-- and abandoned math). She is also an avid reader. We too thought she’d pick up spelling through her exposure to the written word, but she didn’t. She cared a lot about knowing how to spell correctly, and asked for “spelling lessons”. She’d work on spelling in her own way, or use a conventional resource, make no progress, and give it up…and then cry with frustration when lettering signs or writing up documents for her games (lots of imaginary civilizations requiring constitutions and such).<br><br>
My daughter requested help in learning to spell, so I can pretend I’m off the hook for what we ended up doing—taking her through an Orton-Gillingham-based tutoring program (Barton) ourselves. However, the truth is that once we saw what a difference this tutoring made, we were pretty insistent that she continue with it at the recommended pace, which wasn’t always her heart’s desire on a day-to-day basis. (Kind of like how I truly want to exercise daily, but I don’t want to exercise <i>today</i>).<br><br>
After a year of dyslexia tutoring, with truly gratifying improvements in spelling, we discussed experimenting with a similar tutoring approach to math (using Math-U-See). My dd thought it would be a good idea to do math as we had done spelling, but again we were in a situation where the larger goal sounded great to her, but she resented (loudly) the day-to-day work. We certainly didn’t sound like an unschooling household!<br><br>
In the end, we’ve just learned to get comfortable with dealing with dd’s dyslexia as a learning difference in the context of unschooling—which means that we sometimes do things a little differently than we expected. We’ve discussed with dd why we’re supportive of doing some things now instead of later (in case it’s true that early intervention is more efficacious) and that's made sense to her. To the outsider, I’m sure it looks like we’re “unschooling except for spelling and math”—which likely disqualifies us as unschoolers in the eyes of others —but we’re happily and confidently unschooling in our own eyes, anyway. What’s important to us is that we continue to explore and experiment, responding to what dd wants to do now while also being thoughtful about what we all imagine her adult self would have wanted the three of us to decide.<br><br>
In writing this, I checked in with dd to make sure I was representing her views accurately. She says that she “hates math” (she usually likes Barton), and certainly doesn’t like working on it EVER, but feels that the decision to do Barton and Math-U-See on a schedule is the right one, and that she doesn’t feel “forced” or even that we we’ve been insistent (that surprised me). I asked her if she thought we were unschoolers and she replied, “Well, <i>I</i> think we are unschoolers, but I don’t think many other people would think we were unschoolers.” <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink">
 

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Unschooling is about listening to your child, IMO, which is exactly what it sounds like you're doing (and i'm doing, and we're all doing!). <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
Thanks for sharing what is working for you and your daughter.
 

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I believe that kids will want to learn something when they feel they need to learn it. And I don't see why that wouldn't apply to kids with learning disabilities. I think if your child sees no value in math right now, then trying to get him to do math is likely going to lead to even more frustration than with a child who doesn't have a math-learning issue. OTOH, if the child is at the point where THEY are frustrated b/c they can't do math, then they will be motivated to find a program/method that works for them and that's when I would step in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>scoobymummy</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15416810"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">My ds is also, at age 9, a voracious reader who cannot write a word. It makes sense, though, if you think about it. Most (all?) kids that are labelled (LD, dysgraphic, dyslexic) are right brain thinkers and learn in a very different manner than their left brain counterparts. They tend to be visual and whole to part learners.</div>
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Yes to everything you said! We struggled along with phonics for a couple years, but sight words are what made the difference! I read Right Brained Children in a Left Brained World last year and so much of it fit. I thought memorizing math facts would work like sight words, but it hasn't. The interest just isn't there.<br><br>
I sure hope writing and spelling come along in the next couple years, or I might go completely grey! Thank you for those links. I read the first one, and will read the second one later tonight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>birdwren</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15417544"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">To the outsider, I’m sure it looks like we’re “unschooling except for spelling and math”—which likely disqualifies us as unschoolers in the eyes of others —but we’re happily and confidently unschooling in our own eyes, anyway. What’s important to us is that we continue to explore and experiment, responding to what dd wants to do now while also being thoughtful about what we all imagine her adult self would have wanted the three of us to decide.</div>
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Thank you for sharing your experiences. To tell you the truth, I'd feel a lot less anxiety if we <i>were</i> unschooling except for spelling and math! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment"> But my son would feel more anxiety and we'd be back to the struggles of homeschooling years past.<br><br>
The essence of my fears is this. I'm afraid of failing my son, of failing to equip him for adult life. And as much as I don't want to admit it, I'm also afraid of others' judgment.<br><br>
Don't other unschooling moms feel like this? Where does the confidence come from?
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>ReadingMama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15417974"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">The essence of my fears is this. I'm afraid of failing my son, of failing to equip him for adult life. And as much as I don't want to admit it, I'm also afraid of others' judgment.<br><br>
Don't other unschooling moms feel like this? Where does the confidence come from?</div>
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I think it's easy when what your kid needs follows the expected "norm." That's a nice, tidy package. Your kid is happy, you're confident and no one looks at you like you have two heads.<br><br>
Having a kid who operates outside of that norm, I figured I could either try and make the kid fit, or accept the kid and let him grow to be who he is. Neither path is easy because the former caused all kinds of stress and the latter caused worry (on my part) as well as criticism from others. Ultimately, I just decided that what my dc need was more important than what anyone else was thinking. That doesn't mean I don't still get pangs from time to time when someone says something negative. But seeing my kids grow into the unique individuals they are, celebrating their accomplishments, focusing on their strengths and really enjoying seeing them enjoy their lives--that trumps any relatives funny looks, yk?<br><br>
So, part of the confidence comes from time and part of it comes from focusing on the dc rather than on others.<br><br>
I think we can't fail our kids if we're meeting their needs RIGHT NOW. As their needs change, so do we change how we help them. Right now, a calculator meets your ds's needs. Years from now, he might have different needs and he might want a math book or mentor or class but if he's resisting these things right now, what good will it do him?
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>ReadingMama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15417134"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Sagmom-As a result of this post, he and I had a conversation about his goals for himself. He said he wants to focus on reading, history, spending time in nature, learning woodsman skills, earning Scout pins, and typing (mostly to help with online gaming) next year. For spelling, he's not really interested in it, but he doesn't want other kids to make fun of him for not knowing how to spell.</div>
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If he's typing for online gaming, not being able to spell won't matter for the kids or teens. Adults will be leery of having him join pick-up teams, from bad experiences with other poor spellers/typers, but starting off by cut/pasting "I have dyslexia, sorry if my typing is unclear sometimes" will alleviate those worries.<br><br>
With dyscalculia, being able to use a calculator to do math is actually a really good sign. Knowing how to apply math is a much more important skill set than being able to do arithmetic. Being able to plan a wood working project (for instance) is more important than doing it without a calculator.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>ReadingMama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15417974"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">The essence of my fears is this. I'm afraid of failing my son, of failing to equip him for adult life. And as much as I don't want to admit it, I'm also afraid of others' judgment.<br><br>
Don't other unschooling moms feel like this? Where does the confidence come from?</div>
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Oh yes. And don't all parents feel that way about pretty much every decision we make for our children? <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
For me, I was lucky that my eldest was a precocious reader and that pretty much put a halt to many of the criticisms from family. I am also pretty opinionated, lol. But my own inner confidence has come from watching my kids and seeing, week after week, natural learning in action. It strengthens my faith to the point where it is no longer so much faith as just knowing from experience that it works.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Piglet68</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15423614"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">But my own inner confidence has come from watching my kids and seeing, week after week, natural learning in action. It strengthens my faith to the point where it is no longer so much faith as just knowing from experience that it works.</div>
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I love your last sentence. That makes perfect sense. I guess it's the faith stage I'm struggling with. This has been our first unschooling year. I need to give it more time.<br><br>
I met with the leader of my homeschool group tonight. She said something that rang true. She believes schools have it backwards. They value and spend so much time on mechanics instead of spending those early years capitalizing on kids' natural creativity and joy in learning. Only later are they "allowed" creativity, and by then the joy and creativity have been dampened. She thinks we should flip it and not worry about mechanics (skills) until kids are teens and have some ideas of their future goals.<br><br>
Thanks for your comfort and advice everyone.
 
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