Make 2020 the year your struggling reader took off! You have hired a tutor or are using a high quality Orton Gillingham based program, but your student’s progress isn’t as quick as you’d like. It may be time to take a serious look at your homeschool environment. There are ways to make sure that your student can get the most benefit from your program.
I homeschooled my own four kids. I love homeschoolers and the homeschool community. I think this can be a wonderful choice for dyslexic students. But making sure your homeschool works for your struggling reader can take some extra thought and set-up.
- Turn off the TV and video games– I don’t mean forever. Just give them a break during the day especially if you are a homeschooling family. Too many homes I visit have the TV on constantly. Not only does it steal time from more valuable pursuits, it’s distracting. I understand that it can be a way to keep siblings occupied during lessons. If that’s your only option, consider headphones and tablets. You might not think the TV is distracting from the other room but I’ve had to pull students’ attention back over and over and over. . . Try limiting the TV/Video game time to a few hours a day. Maybe only after 3:30.
- Set aside a clutter free space for working. I’m not saying declutter your entire house (although if you’d like to do that and want to do my house while you are at it, I wouldn’t say no!) Just set aside one small space for working. Keep the walls clutter free. Keep the surface cleared off. Turn the desk or table so that the student’s back is to the rest of the house. Avoid placing the work space near a window. Ideally the spot won’t be in a busy, noisy part of the house.
- Make reading instruction a priority in your schedule. If you’ve got a struggling reader that needs to be your educational priority right now. Field trips, sports teams, and co-ops are amazing. When I was a homeschooling mom we loved them all. But if you can’t dedicate enough time each day to work on reading because your schedule is too full, it may be time to rethink your schedule. You will have plenty of time for all of that when your kiddo can read!
- Keep all your reading materials in one place. Nothing wastes time faster than looking for your letter magnets, sound cards, or book. Try a box or bin. Make sure the reading notebook, homework, magnets, cards, books and games get put back in there each time. Check and make sure other stuff isn’t thrown in there too!
- Use audiobooks. Really. They are easy and invaluable. You can download them from services like Audible or borrow them from the library. Make them a part of every day. This is the lazy homeschool mom’s secret weapon. Play the books in the car. Put them on while the kiddos are building with Legos. Sit one kiddo down with headphones and an audiobook while you work with the others. If the TV and video games are turned off, audiobooks will seem like a more appealing choice. Let them listen to fun books. Add historical fiction that ties in with your history program. Your kiddo’s comprehension, vocabulary, and love of books will grow.
- Install high quality reading apps or programs on your kids’ tablets. If they’d like to play a game in the car make it something educational!
- Make your instructional time count. Practice needs to be focused. A worksheet done independently in the car is not going to have the same value as even the same worksheet done with an adult. Sit with your student. Have them read to you. Talk your way through the exercises. Use the time to weave in review. Ask them questions.
- Practice every single day. Even if you only have 5 minutes you can read a word list, review a concept orally, or flip through a stack or sound cards. Consistent daily practice can make all the difference in the world.
- Use your library. It’s available and free. It’s vital that your student have lots of books to practice reading. But the library has so much more! There are audiobooks and graphic novels that may be the key to helping your student discover a love of books. Make library trips part of your routine. Your next family read aloud may be waiting for you at the library!
- Play games. Play lots of reading/word games. Even if your student is reluctant to practice you may be able to get them to play a quick game. Make it fun. Pull in other family members. Have a family bananagrams tournament. Enjoy yourselves!