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Last fall, my 12 year old daughter decided she wanted to have a flower garden.
A portion of the garden was planted with bulbs which will return each year.
Now that spring had arrived, she has added annuals to several, large pots she had prepared last fall. However, unlike the bulbs, these plants were purchased already in bloom and needed to be transplanted. As is commonly the case, the annuals, in their starter flats, had become root-bound, stunting their full ability to grow.
Being a good gardener, she loosened the stifled roots and spread them apart so they can grow outward in the new soil. With healthy and established roots, her annuals can grow into the healthy plants they are intended to be.
Our children are not unlike these plants, especially children with learning disorders like dyslexia.
They can easily become root-bound when placed in a “starter flat” of conventional learning. You, the parent, can play a huge role in helping free up your children to not only learn more easily, but enjoy doing it.
Here are 4 tips to help your child with their homework:
1. Get them (and yourself) out of the old pot.
Change your mindset.
Remove your expectations of them learning the way other children learn, or for that matter, the way you learned best.
They are not you.
Once you have changed your mindset, experiment with different ways to help them learn. Try different things to determine what connects with your child. Both of my learning challenged sons are very artistic so doodling and creating with things like clay helps keep them on track and gives them something tangible to help them remember. I have had them build letters or representations of complete words in order to make a lasting impression.
Perhaps your child is an auditory learner. Find or create songs that can help them learn important skills, like math or geopraohy facts.
My son’s reading tutor helped her dyslexic daughter learn her phonemic sounds on a mini trampoline.
In the movie Akeelah and the Bee, our heroine remembers spelling concepts by rhythmically jumping rope (watch the full clip below).
The point is to discover what connects with your child.
Just as those roots needed to be loosened up, so does your child. Here is an example of how it looks with my son. When we are working on spelling, we snuggle up on the couch for a short time and read the words taking time to discuss problems. We discuss any new vocabulary. Sometimes even words we assume they can define are new to them.
Then we go over to a table and dump out some letter tiles. You can make your own using plastic caps from jugs or bottles. You can also get some from a game like Bananagrams or Pairs in Pears (I like Pairs in Pears for this because the letters come in various patterns that I can use to represent consonants or vowels). The only negative with using game tiles is that they usually are all printed in capital letters.
Here is an example of what a lesson for us may look like.
I say a word on his list and let him build it with the tiles. We may make it through six to eight words before I see his attention drifting.
No problem, I simply take him to a window or mirror, hand him a dry erase marker and continue down the list having him spell the words while standing (He loves this). We may finish up writing the words on paper – novel idea.
This takes diligence and patience on the parents part, but in the end, your child can proudly say he finished it…which is worth all the extra effort.
But once you have loosened up the roots of your plant you need to put it into a new pot or location so the roots can continue to be nourished.
3. Transplant them.
That plant needed a new container. Your child may enjoy having the space to learn with more variety, but they also benefit from routine. It helps them have time references as to how much longer they need to work. This keeps them from getting overwhelmed.
Cultivation and consistency bring growth. You can even ask your child to, “Pick out his own pot”, by helping you create a routine for each subject. This helps them know what to expect and cuts back on complaints because the plan was their own.
Every so often you may need to transplant them again and revise the plan. Pay attention and you’ll know when.
4. Water and feed them.
Finally, when something is newly planted it needs a little extra watering and attention until its roots are established. Be patient as they get used to their new routine. After they adjust keep fertilizing and watering on a regular basis. It is a part of the nurturing process. This is the gardeners responsibility, not the plant’s.
Your child most likely won’t take initiative by himself any more than a plant will go get the watering can and dump it on itself. You are the parent. You are responsible for bringing the most beneficial and meaningful opportunities to them.
Our children provide so much of the beauty in our lives, and with a little intentional care that beauty grows even more vibrant.
So get them out of their old pots. Free up their roots. Provide a routine for cultivating new skills, and load them down with tender, loving nurturing. You won’t regret it, and they’ll be all the better for it.
Are you looking for a more structured program for your dyslexic child. I personally like the programs offered by All About Learning. They have clear step by step instructions, are multi-sensory but most of all they are effective. I do use all of the tips I have shared above, but this program gives a nice skeleton to the body of learning.
Are you trying to figure out what will work best for your child? Let’s talk about it.Tell us about it in the comments and we will do what we can to help.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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