Tag Archives: sensory processing disorder

How my autodidactic 9 year old is learning maths without a curriculum

Maths with an autodidactic 9 year old

In my last post I described J(9) as fiercely autodidactic, which makes me giggle because it’s so literally true. J(9) is bright, funny, creative – and very independent. When you add in the emotional regulation challenges that come with Sensory Processing Disorder, you have a child who keeps homeschooling life very interesting.

Like his sister, J(9) didn’t get on with any maths curriculum. We stopped looking for one that worked a long time ago. He happily joins C(10) and me for maths stories and hands-on activities, but until recently it was impossible to do one-to-one maths with J(9).

I’ve heard enough stories about unschooled kids and maths to know that he’ll get there in the end. J(9) has a natural aptitude for numbers – he knows most of the multiplication tables without ever having consciously learned them, for example. So I didn’t worry about his long-term future. But maths is fun, and I didn’t want him to miss out.

An obvious solution for someone who doesn’t like to be taught is to use a self-teaching curriculum. Unfortunately, J(9) finds these boring. I sympathise. It’s difficult to bring out the joy of real-world maths in a self-teaching curriculum aimed at 9-year-olds.

I thought, briefly, that Khan Academy might be an exception. I liked how its maths curriculum is laid out, and  the sophisticated way coaches can monitor pupils’  work. Unfortunately, Khan Academy didn’t work out for J(9). I’ll share more about that in my next post.

What to try next?

One of my favourite homeschool mum roles is detective. I love quietly observing my children, gathering clues about how I can support their learning.

I considered what I knew about J(9) and maths. He has strong spatial skills and likes playing with numbers. He’s easily bored, and to focus his mind he often needs to move his body. He loves puzzles and games – but if there’s one thing even more likely to trigger a meltdown than making a mistake, it’s losing at a game. We’re working on these challenges. I know about the importance of a growth mindset, and one day I hope that J(9) will see the value of mistakes, too.

In the meantime, I relied on my own growth mindset. I took everything I’d learned from each of our maths “failures” and just kept on trying new ways to work with J(9). It only occurred to me recently, looking back over the last few months, that we seem finally to have found our groove.

maths with an autodidact

The solution (for now)

What has evolved for us is an extremely relaxed version of the buddy maths I do with C(10). Maybe “relaxed” isn’t right word. “Mindful” might be a better description of my role in the process. Here’s how it looks in detail.

The book we use – J(9) chooses a book to work from (e.g. a maths story, or a source of problems). Every day for the last month he’s chosen Becoming a Problem Solving Genius: A Handbook of Math Strategies. (I’ll say more about why we love this book in my next post.)

Where we do maths – We take our book, together with whiteboards and markers, to the sofa.

Topic of the day – J(9) picks a chapter. We rarely follow books sequentially, though we often continue with the next level of problems in a topic we left off last time.

Time of think – One of us reads out a problem. Then I stay quiet and give J(9) time to think. I only offer hints  when he asks for them (I’ve learned this the hard way). Instead, I take deep breaths and remind myself that crawling under the sofa being a snake, or jumping on top of it like a monkey, helps him concentrate.

Writing things down – If I don’t instantly know the answer to a problem, I use a whiteboard to figure it out. J(9), ever independent, doesn’t look at my workings. His brain works differently from mine and he often mentally calculates things I can’t.

I don’t force him to write anything down, but he sees me doing so, and recently he’s started to make his own notes and diagrams when he solves more complex problems. I do my secret happy-dance when he does this, because representing problems in different ways is an important mathematical strategy. It also allows him to retrace his steps when he goes wrong. (And – less importantly – one day he’ll need to show his workings in exams.)

Dealing with mistakes – J(9) tells me his answer when he’s done. Whether I agree or disagree, I set my voice to neutral and ask, “How did you get that?” If he’s made an error, he often spots it as he explains his process. He can then change his answer, so he doesn’t feel like he’s got it “wrong”.

Occasionally, when we get different answers, I realise I’ve made a mistake. J(9) likes it when that happens.

If I’ve got the same answer via a different process, I ask J(9) if he’d like to hear how I did it. Then  I try to respect his answer! He’s gradually learning that one tends to make fewer mistakes using simpler processes, but if I’ve learned not try to foist a method on him.

And, I admit, there are still times when J(9) can’t see where he went wrong, doesn’t want to talk about it, and he ends the session early, frustrated. I’m learning not to get upset when that happens – it doesn’t negate the learning that’s gone before. We’ll come back to the topic another time, when he’s ready.

When are we done? – There’s no minimum time for our sessions or number of problems we do. We might do one question or thirty. J(9) is in control of his learning.

maths with my autodidact

The results (so far)

One-to-one maths with J(9) has transformed from something we both dreaded into an absolute pleasure (mostly).

I’m hopeful that our buddy maths routine will continue after we’ve exhausted the questions in Becoming a Problem-Solving Genius. Perhaps we’ll move on to Murderous Maths or try out one of the many great sources of maths videos.  I’ll let you know.

Perhaps the best outcome of our new way of doing maths is that J(9) is beginning to trust me as his learning mentor. I know he will always want to learn as independently as possible. As he gets older that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But I want him to know he can always come to me for help and support.


I’m appreciatively linking up here:

Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

The Hip Homeschool Hop at Hip Homeschool Moms

The Home Ed Link Up week 4 at Adventures in Home Schooling

Sensory Processing Disorder & Vacations – 7 Tips To Help Things Go Smoothly

Sensory Processing Disorder

Life with a child who has Sensory Processing Disorder can be stressful, and taking a break to go on vacation is good for everyone. But being away from home brings its own challenges – both in terms of the SPD itself and how you as a parent cope with the “goldfish bowl” aspect of being away, especially if you’re visiting or travelling with friends or extended family.

I recently spent a week sharing a small room on a cruise ship with my 9 year old daughter, 8 year old son (who has Sensory Processing Disorder) and my mother. We had a lovely week (and only the one trip to the ship’s doctor, when J(8) cut his head on a cushion-strewn stone bench).

While we were away, I jotted down some ideas to remind myself how best to make sure future holidays go as smoothly.

1. Manage expectations

Before you leave home, discuss where you’re going and what it’s going to be like. Often we have it all planned in our heads but don’t think of sharing the details with our children. This is fine with most kids, but a child with Sensory Processing Disorder does best if he knows what’s happening.

We homeschool, so I involved both my children in the planning stage for our Norway cruise. You may not want to go into as much detail as we did, but if you’re visiting more than one place, consider making a visual itinerary.

2. Vacation food & SPD Diets

If your child has any special dietary requirements, talk in advance about the kind of food that will be available while you’re away, and consider together how best to manage her dietary needs.

My son does much better on a low sugar, gluten and dairy diet. At home we can accommodate this without him missing out on treats – we make cakes and cookies with gluten free flour and agave, for example. But even if it were possible to follow his diet strictly when we’re away, it would mean both him and his sister (not to mention me) missing out on one of the pleasures of being on vacation – delicious food.

We handled this on the cruise by agreeing to be quite strict at the start of the holiday and to relax as the week went on. It’s easier to go from no dessert to sugar-free ice cream to “Okay, you can have chocolate flavour” and finally to “Yes, with chocolate sauce if you like,” than vice versa!

The effects of the foods to which my son is sensitive are cumulative, so by gradually relaxing the usual rules in this way we can delay the worst of their effects until we’re safely home. Meanwhile, he comes away with happy memories of being able to enjoy vacation treats like other children.

3. Kids’ clubs & other babysitters

Whatever kind of vacation you take, there may be short periods when your child will be looked after by unfamiliar people.

Adults who have no experience of  SPD usually try to reason with a child who is mid-meltdown. This is well-meant, but useless (or worse). Someone who is emotionally flooded is not capable of reason – what they they need is a safe space to calm down.

J(8) was keen to go and play at the kids’ club when we were away. Before I left him there for the first time, I had a chat with the childcare manager. I asked if there was a safe space my son could go to if he needed to calm down, and we showed the space to J(8). (In the event, I found him under a table, but the conversation at least left the manager better prepared – an older child’s meltdown can be a shocking experience if you’re not used to it.)

While they were in the club I provided my children with a two-way radio. Once, at the start of the week, C(9) called on it to let me know her brother was distressed and needed collecting.  Other times J(8) was just able to call to say he’d had enough. Knowing he had control of his situation helped him relax and enjoy the fun and games.

4. Extended family & other bystanders

Parents of special needs children are used to dealing with uncomprehending (and at times judgemental) looks and comments from outsiders. I love Avant Parenting’s recent take on this in Coddling, indulging, nurturing, supporting.

We each develop our own strategies for handling other people’s opinions. Mine is to tune into my heart, hold true to my parenting values, and not allow how I care for my son to be influenced by other people’s negative comments (no matter how well meant).

At a time when my son needs extra support in an unusual environment, I’d rather err on the side of “pandering” to my child, than pandering to the peanut gallery.

5. Sensory Processing Disorder & Siblings

It’s not easy having a brother or sister with Sensory Processing Disorder and vacations can be extra difficult, with more parent time being taken over supporting the SPD child, plus the embarrassment factor of new people witnessing his odd behaviour and meltdowns.

Whenever we’re away I try and find time to spend alone with C(9) without her brother. Even half an hour doing something fun together can go a long way towards making everyone’s vacation better.

Vacations with sensory processing disorder
Mother and daughter “cocktail” hour in the crows’ nest

6. Tools

Take with you any sensory tools and equipment you can fit in, like hand fidgets, aromatherapy oils and headphones. My son used his chew tubes more during the week we were away than he does in a month at home. We’re about to invest in a fabric sensory tunnel to use at home, so in future we might take that too.

Work with what you’ve got – if you’re staying in a hotel with a gym, see if you can borrow a swiss ball to play with. If your child likes swimming, visit the pool as often as possible. (And if your child has vestibular problems, consider a vacation on the sea – I’m sure the rocking motion of our ship helped keep my son regulated!)

7. Video games and other screens

At home, I try and make sure my son takes regular breaks from his DS/Minecraft/the Wii to jump on the trampoline or chill out quietly. When we’re away, I don’t worry about screen time. We do plenty of other activities as part of the holiday, so if he’s calmly relaxing with an iPad or DS the rest of the time, that’s okay. It’s my  vacation too!

taking your spd child on holiday

One of the difficulties with writing about SPD is that it affects each child so differently. My son’s SPD affects primarily his vestibular and proprioceptive systems, plus he has some tactile and auditory issues, though these are not as bad as other cases I’ve read about. As parents of these wonderful, special children, we need all the support we can get. I hope that you find something helpful in what I’ve written. If you do, or if you have any tips to add, I’d love to hear from you.

I wrote most of this sitting by the ship’s pool while we were still away. J(8) and his sister had just gone up to the kids’ club. As I closed my laptop, a woman in her sixties came over and asked “Were those your children?”

“Yes,” I  replied, cautiously.

“We were just saying how beautifully behaved they were!” the woman said.

I may not play to the peanut gallery, but given the timing, I’ll take that as a vote of confidence  – a vacation with your SPD child is not a contradiction-in-terms!

Lessons Learned – What’s Going Well This Term

homeschool planning

We’re not using any curriculum in our homeschool at the moment, but that doesn’t mean I don’t set goals for what I want us to achieve. In fact without a textbook telling us what we need to cover each week, it’s even more important for me to be clear about where we’re going.

The joy of routine

Detailed plans don’t work well for me, but I thrive on routines. A good routine offers a perfect balance of flexibility and structure. Routines allow us to spontaneously take a sunny springtime day off to play outside with friends, and then to jump back in the next day without worrying about “catching-up”. Routines can be adjusted to accommodate extra practice time for upcoming music exams, and we can make the most of the perks of homeschooling by taking term-time vacations without having to work double-time on our return to cover “missed” material.

The whiteboard in the picture above shows my big-picture planning for this term. Some subjects, like history, science and art, aren’t listed because we were already in a comfortable groove with them.  On the whiteboard I wrote new ideas and things we’d been letting slide, but which I knew I wanted to reintroduce into our regular routine.

Read aloud time

We listen to a lot of audiobooks together and individually, but there’s something special about family read-aloud time. This term I’ve prioritised getting together every day to read from a novel or non-fiction living book.  We’re finishing The Return of the Twelves at the moment (it’s good as everyone says). Sharing a novel in this way helps get us into the swing of reading aloud, so we’ve read more of all kinds of living books together this term.

Fun maths

I’ve written a lot recently about the fun we’ve been having with our new living maths routine. Definitely a success!


I’m a big fan of copywork for teaching kids the elements of good writing. J(8) turned eight at Easter so I thought he might be ready to join C(9) doing copywork. Despite his slight dysgraphia and dyslexia, he seems to be quite enjoying it. He chooses his own book, props it up on a cookbook stand, and writes a sentence using his handiwriter pencil grip. Most of what he’s written comes from a Benny and Penny graphic novel, but that doesn’t worry me. As long as he’s practising writing, punctuation and spelling I know he’ll get there in the end (wherever “there” is).

J(8)'s copywork
J(8)’s copywork

C(9) has also been selecting her own copywork passages. She picks a book off the shelves depending on her mood. This term she’s written quotes from Magic School Bus books, Usborne science books, Homer, poems and even the back of an acrylic paint pot. Variety is a bonus!

C(9)'s copywork
C(9)’s copywork

This term I’ve been doing copywork alongside the children – an inspiring quote, a favourite poem or a great line from a novel. I enjoy it, and it reinforces the value of what the children are doing.

Project time

I love the idea of the children spending large amounts of time driving their own projects, with me as their learning mentor. After we rearranged our space to make materials more accessible, C(9) spontaneously creates much more often. I’ve been managing to have project time with each child individually a few times a week, but ideally I’d like us to spend more time doing project work.  I’m still working on where to find that time!


Like copywork, freewriting is something we all do together.  We set a timer for five minutes and, sometimes using Bravewriter Friday Freewrite prompts, keep writing until the beeper sounds. J(8) doesn’t follow the “rules” exactly – he prefers to tell stories using a mixture of pictures and writing (complete with his own “phonetic” spelling) – but he’s been really enthusiastic about freewriting so I’m not going to interfere in his creative process! Sometimes, in an unusual reversal of roles, C(9) gets cross because J(8) carries on writing well past the beep.


Schedule for J(8)

My final goal for this term was to provide J(8) with a daily schedule.  Whereas C(9) and I are fairly free-wheeling types, J(8) seems to work best when he knows what’s coming up, and when he’s done for the day. So for his benefit I’ve been making a daily whiteboard list of subjects which we cross off as we go along. This seems to have been working well.

Lesson-planning inspiration

Julie at Highhill Homeschool has launched a new link-up series to help homeschoolers inspire each other in lesson-planning. For the next month, the link-up theme is successes in your classroom, then beginning 4 July there’s a schedule for sharing planning different subjects across the curriculum. I hope you’ll join me there for more inspiration.

The Pros And Cons Of Joining A Homeschool Co-op


pros and cons of joining a homeschool co-op
Photo credit: USFWS

As the popularity of homeschooling increases, so do the opportunities for getting together with other homeschoolers. One way to do this is to join a homeschool co-op.

There are advantages and disadvantages to joining a co-op.  But even if you decide that a co-op isn’t right for your family, you needn’t miss out on the benefits. A co-op doesn’t work for us right now – I’ll share below about some of the things we do instead.

What is a homeschool co-op?

Here in the UK,  a co-op is a group of homeschooling parents who get together regularly to teach their children. Each parent offers a different class and children choose which classes they want to take.

Co-ops might meet weekly, fortnightly or even monthly.  They can be quite informal, but most  groups that consider themselves co-ops rather than social groups have a bit more structure.

Benefits of joining a homeschool co-op

1. You can pool resources and leverage your talents. Your children can benefit from another mum’s artistic flair while you get to run a science course, or vice versa.

2. Variety. Your children have a larger choice of subjects than you might think to offer. Even if you do project-based or interest-led homeschooling, there are topics your children might not come across in your home environment. You never know where that might lead.

3. Exposure to different teaching styles. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that we get to know our children’s learning styles and can tailor our teaching to help them learn best. But another adult’s teaching style might be a natural match with your child’s learning style, which could be good for their confidence and help them understand tricky topics.

4. Social benefits for the children. By seeing the same people regularly, your children will have the chance to make friends with similar interests. They’ll have valuable opportunities to learn to work collaboratively. Extroverted children in particular will benefit from co-ops in this way.

5. Of course, the adults also get to make friends and mutually support each other in their homeschooling goals. When I first took my kids out of school, I was like a sponge around the experienced homeschoolers I met in real life – I was so eager to absorb every bit of the wisdom they had to offer. Joining a co-op in the early days of homeschooling provides a ready-made support network.

6. It’s inexpensive. You get the benefit of (relatively) expert teaching without paying for private tutoring. Curriculum costs can be shared, and you can save money by bulk-buying craft or science materials.

Disadvantages of joining a co-op

1. Being part of a co-op means having, to some degree, a common educational philosophy. Most homeschoolers find their homeschooling style changes over time (or with the season). We also tend to be independent and love our autonomy. Establishing shared values with all members of a co-op can be tricky, and staying in synch over time can be even more challenging!

2. Time commitment. If you have a child that already wants to do a heap of activities, you may not have a day or half day a week free to participate in a co-op.

3. Availability.  Once co-ops successfully get going, they may not accept new members.  (Then again, with more and more homeschoolers out there, you could start your own.)

4. Your children may not be a match. Even if you do find a co-op which shares your educational values and which accepts new members, your children may still not be a match to the co-op environment, particularly if they have special needs. My eight year old son, for example, has Sensory Processing Disorder and still relies on me to help with his emotional regulation.  A co-op class probably wouldn’t work for him yet.

What’s the alternative?

What if you can’t or don’t want to join a co-op but would still like to experience some of the benefits of being in one? Here are some alternatives:

1. Joining your local homeschool group will offer many of the advantages of a co-op but usually on a more casual basis. I’ll be sharing next week about our experiences with our local homeschool groups.

2. Set up or join a homeschooling parents’ support group where parents meet without children to talk about homeschooling. I’m in the process of setting up a “Homeschool Inspiration Group” with four lovely local ladies. We all have slightly different homeschooling styles, which I’m sure will benefit the group. My plan is for us to share ideas and resources, to inspire each other by talking about what’s working for us, and to support each other with any homeschool-related issues. I’m very excited about this and will share more about it with you soon. This is a good option if, like me, you have a child with special needs.

3.Tutoring, either paid or on a skill-swap basis with another parent. Tutoring in small groups may not be as expensive as doing it individually, and can provide social and teamwork opportunities. Our family extrovert, C(9), loves her group guitar lesson, and both my children used to do group French lessons with a native speaker in a group of eight.

4. Workshops and clubs. For the social and collaborative benefits of being in a co-op, you could invite other homeschoolers to join your children in a workshop (or series of workshops). Patricia Zaballos’ Workshops Work: A Parent’s Guide to Facilitating Writer’s Workshops for Kids has me excited about starting a writers’ workshop for my kids and some of their friends at some point. Denise Gaskins, author of my favourite maths book Let’s Play Math, talks about how to start a homeschool maths club here.

homeschool help series

There’s a season for everything.  Just because we’re not in a homeschool co-op right now doesn’t mean I’m ruling it out for the future. But it’s good to know that even without being in a co-op, my children and I don’t have to miss out.

For more ideas about homeschool co-ops, head over to the other Homeschool Help ladies’ blogs.

Savannah @ HammockTracks talks about The Ins and Outs of Co-Ops and asks “Why are you participating?”

Hwee @ The Tiger Chronicle shares her afterthoughts about joining a co-op in  Our Co-op Experience

Julie @ Highhill Homeschool shares three different ways to run a co-op in How does homeschool co-op work?

Nicole @ One Magnificent Obsession talks about how to evaluate if a homeschool co-op is right for your family in The Co-op Question: Yeah or Nay?

In Creating Synergy Erin @ Seven Little Australians shares how she fosters synergy in a country where co-ops are not common

Bernadette @ Barefoot Hippie Girl talks about why she looks forward to organizing or joining a co-op in the next few years in Beneficial Co-op(eration)

Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses writes about moving forward in strength when she shares the load – Together Everyone Achieves More

Homeschool Language Arts for the Dyslexic and Dysgraphic Child

handiwriter - homeschooling dyslexia & dysgraphia at navigating by joy

Our homeschool language arts curriculum has changed a little since we discovered that Jasper (7) has mild dyslexia, dysgraphia and fine motor delays. We’ve always had a fairly relaxed homeschooling style, but knowing more about how Jasper’s brain works has allowed us to use the most appropriate tools to bring out his best.

Assessment and Diagnosis

Jasper rarely reads books for pleasure or writes voluntarily. I’ve never been too concerned – he’s only seven, and I know enough about the development of boys’ brains to trust that this will change with time.  In the meantime, I knew he was busy developing other other skills.

Dyslexia and Dysgraphia

We took Jasper to see an educational psychologist because we wanted to know how best to leverage the small amount of time we spend doing structured homeschooling with him. The psychologist gave us useful insights into his relative strengths and weaknesses. (I see these as a snapshot of his current development, not set in stone.  The brain is more like plastic.) She assessed Jasper as having “mild dyslexic and possibly dysgraphic markers”, and recommended a number of resources specifically tailored to his learning needs.

Sensory Processing Disorder

I had suspected for a few months that Jasper had Sensory Processing Disorder, and this was confirmed in September by an assessment with a paediatric occupational therapist.  Sensory Processing Disorder has many manifestations – the biggest challenge Jasper faces is emotional self-regulation. But SPD also tends to bring with it with motor delays – mostly, in Jasper’s case, fine motor delays.

General Approach

The psychologist and occupational therapist recommended a little-and-often approach to help improve Jasper’s reading and writing. He is having occupational therapy (daily, at home, and weekly with a therapist) to help with his sensory integration and motor function. Because these skills act as a foundation to all higher level functioning, including academic learning, it makes sense for now to focus most of our efforts here.



Despite his mild dyslexia, Jasper’s reading comprehension age was assessed at more than three years ahead of his chronological age (thank you, Dennis the Menace and Zelda!). This type of dyslexia is sometimes described as “stealth dyslexia” because it so often goes undiagnosed in bright kids.

Toe by Toe - homeschooling dyslexia at navigating by joyToe by Toe
 describes itself as a “highly structured multi-sensory reading manual”. It requires no preparation, you just sit down together and follow the format each day. The pages are black and white, clear, and un-busy, and as it’s designed for all ages (including adults) it doesn’t patronise. As a visual-spatial learner with a good memory, Jasper has always relied on sight-word reading. I knew from hearing him read aloud at poetry teas that he lacked the skills to decode more complex new words, but he’d always strongly resisted any phonics coaching. That is, until we found Toe by Toe.

Phonics rules are introduced and thoroughly practised, and each word has to earn three ticks over three consecutive sessions before it is considered mastered. Phonics concepts are practised using both real and nonsense words – it’s the latter that seem really to cement the learning.

homeschooling dyslexic child - navigating by joy

Toe by Toe suggests sessions of up to 20 minutes a day. We do six minutes. I might increase this as Jasper gets older, but we’ve been using the programme for just a few months and are already a quarter through so that may not be necessary.

The other day I snapped this picture of him not only reading a book, but doing so on a car journey next to a bag of electronic games devices!


Thanks to several years of Handwriting Without Tears, Jasper’s handwriting is neat and legible.  The problem is, outside of his handwriting sessions, he never writes! The process is just too effortful for him. The occupational therapist told us that because of his sensory processing issues and fine motor delays, he’s having to use big, tiring muscles to write, whereas those of us who’ve developed what’s known as automaticity in writing use smaller muscles.

One of the ways we’re addressing this is by using a handiwriter to encourage Jasper to hold his pencil in the correct position. Although I had shown him how to do this many times, I had come to wonder if maybe there was no “correct” grip and that children should be left to hold a pencil however they please.  But if working on a new grip is going to make writing easier for Jasper, I’ll do what it takes to encourage him.

Write from the Start - Homeschooling the Dyslexic and Dysgraphic ChildThe educational psychologist we saw recommended Write from the Start, “a unique programme to develop the fine motor and perceptual skills necessary for effective handwriting”. The books are full of simple exercises like drawing the spines on a dragon’s back, which Jasper does with enthusiasm. Write from the Start leads onto cursive handwriting so we’ve skipped ahead to Handwriting Without Tears – Cursive Handwriting.  Jasper happily does a page a day, after Write From the Start.


The psychologist emphasised the importance of Jasper learning to type well and recommended Nessy Fingers, an inexpensive programme designed for dyslexic students. Cordie (9), (who does not have dyslexia) also enjoys using Nessy more than the other typing programmes we’ve tried (Type to Learn 4 and the free BBC Dance Mat Typing).

Creative Writing and Other Subjects

Of course, there’s more to language arts than reading and writing.  One of the many advantages of homeschooling is that delays in reading and writing don’t have to hold a child back in other subjects or from having fun with language.

Jasper can dictate stories, poems and emails to me, and ask me to write down or spell search terms. I don’t put pressure on him to write or spell for himself outside our dedicated sessions. I want him to feel the joy of expressing himself, of seeing his words recorded, unhampered by the fact that other skills haven’t fully developed yet.

I act as Jasper’s scribe when he writes history or science notebooking pages. His French teacher (who has two dyslexic sons) lets him to play or draw in their lessons while his sister writes. He learns the parts of speech playing Mad Libs.  He relishes participating in poetry tea, a superb natural opportunity for reading aloud to an audience. He grabs pencil and paper to writes plans, treasure maps and notes to himself, uninhibited by worries about what other people will think. His favourite game is Consequences; it didn’t bother any of us that for years every character he invented was called “poo” 😀 . He’s listened to many, many audiobooks, including the complete Harry Potter series, the Hunger Games trilogy, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals. He’s enjoying language; the skills will come.

How has a Dyslexia Diagnosis Changed Our Homeschooling?

Having Jasper assessed and diagnosed with mild dyslexia and sensory processing disorder hasn’t much changed how we homeschool. When you spend every day with your child, you understand him better than anyone. I’ve always known it was important to trust Jasper to develop at his own pace.

Each of us comes as a unique package.  The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain offers an incredible insight into what the dyslexic mind is capable of (I can’t recommend it highly enough).  We don’t try to make babies to sit, crawl or walk before they’re ready.  We trust that they are born with everything they need to develop at the exact right pace for them. Let’s trust our older children to do the same.

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