Homeschooling a Dyslexic Teenager: Four things They Need

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For many home-school parents our goal is to get our children to a place of independent learning.

 

teenage girl reading

I remember when I reached this pinnacle with my first three sons. I could hand them a book, give them an assignment, and they could complete it on their own. I thought I had a new lease on life.

Then I had a fourth son. My assumption was that he too would reach the point of independent learning. He was and is a normal, intelligent, fun to be with guy. But at the age of nine he was barely able to read. After having him evaluated we discovered he had APD (Auditory Processing Disorder), he doesn’t process the information he hears in the same way as others do. He has difficulties in recognizing and interpreting sounds, especially the sounds composing speech. This translates into difficulty reading and spelling.

Another common name for this disorder is DYSLEXIA.

It became clear that he would not be learning independently any time soon. By finding a good tutor and changing the way I taught at home my son got to the place where he was reading fairly fluently, but that didn’t mean he was now an independent learner. He still needs more than other students do.

Here are 4 things your dyslexic teenager needs:

  • Dyslexic teenagers need parents who believe in their imminent success and who are committed to doing whatever it takes to see them get there. The parent of a dyslexic child has to step up and become that child’s champion, therapist, advocate, and cheerleader. Of course, we should take on these roles for all of our children, but for kids who struggle with reading  it needs to be taken to a new level.  When speaking of her experience with dyslexia, actress Whoopi Goldberg stated:

    I knew I wasn’t stupid, and I knew I wasn’t dumb. My mother told me that.”    

Whoopi Goldberg

 

My son still struggles with feeling stupid when he is working on schoolwork that doesn’t seem to “click”. But the truth is every dyslexic person has strengths that often outshine their peers. It is my job to remind him of his greatness, help him overcome obstacles, than not let him forget how far he has come.

  • Dyslexic teenagers need something that reminds them that they are smart and valuable. Okay, I just said that we need to be telling them this, but they also need tangible experiences that prove it. My son is creative at a genius level and he is beginning to recognize that. He is a brilliant artist and comic illustrator. At sixteen years old he has his own recurring comic strip published in our local newspaper, has completed the design work for a video game about to be released and is illustrating a children’s book set to be released soon. What is your child’s strengths? Help him/her find a way to put those skills into action.

Bird Seed

 

  • Dyslexic teenagers may need their primary teacher to actually work through their lessons with them. I say primary because it is completely appropriate to get outside help. It seems we are comfortable creating social opportunities for our children through co-ops, getting them music lessons or putting them in sports, but we are hesitant to get them outside help with fundamental skills when they struggle. My son’s tutor was a lifesaver. She also let me stay in an adjoining room while she tutored so that I would know how to reinforce what he was learning once we were home. I’m so glad she did because I now have a second child with APD, and am much more prepared to work with him. The reason it is important to do lessons with your child is because they are SMART, but because they have to focus so intently just on reading the words, the overall meaning often escapes them. Often they skip words or pass over periods when they are reading. You need to make sure they are understanding the content.

 

  • Dyslexic teenagers need to have a structured  learning environment, with consistent review. This doesn’t mean you can’t be creative, it simply means they need a disciplined schedule. Because their minds often wander when left on their own, they need to be given ways that help them stay on track. Whether it is by making to-do lists, having a chart, or simply being verbally reminded, they keep something to keep them on task. They need discipline (not punishment). Dyslexic people are not lazy, in fact they are usually good at following through when they are not being distracted. The more consistent you can be with them now will do much to determine their ability to stay focused and complete tasks when they are on their own.

Does this sound like a lot of work?

It is. But I can tell you that by committing to work alongside your child, not only will your child be on a strong path to success, but you will become a stronger more disciplined and intentional person yourself. We have to be parents whose love for our children is stronger than the desire to give up, whose courage is greater than our insecurities (we can do this), and whose passion for seeing our children succeed surpasses our excuses for why we aren’t capable of helping them overcome their struggles.

Comments?

I realize these suggestions are only grazing the tip of the iceberg so please, please please, add your suggestions and insights in the comments.

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Robin Liner is a wife, and veteran homeschool mom with over twenty years experience. She has written two picture books and actively blogs about homeschooling with an emphasis on teaching dyslexic children at crazygoodreaders.wordpress.com. and athomewithdyslexia.com Feel free to contact her at robin@crazygoodreaders.com

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1 Comment

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    Reply

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