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Homeschooling with Dyslexia: Is it Better for A Child?

mom and child homeschooling with dyslexiaParents who see their dyslexic child struggle with traditional schooling often wonder: Might homeschooling be better for my child?  

Dyslexia does not fit neatly into a boxthis cause, this manifestation, this treatmentbut instead is on a continuum. Some students with dyslexia have mainly spelling and writing difficulties while others struggle to read even single-syllable words. Some dyslexic students, including those with apparently mild symptoms, may suffer from extreme stress and anxiety related to reading and writing

Because of this variability, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for dyslexia. In this post, we will provide some practical, research-based guidance for parents who may be wondering if homeschooling is the best option for their child.

A New Time for Homeschooling

Students with dyslexia differ widely. At the same time, homeschooling differs widely from home to home. For example, some homeschoolers use a structured, academic curriculum. Some attend a full-time online school. Others are part of the unschooling movement in which life is the curriculum and there are no formal lessons.

Homeschooling is definitely growing. It is more often an option today, as more than half of American adults work from home, at least part time. Encouraged by the necessity of isolation during the early days of Covid-19, parents have become more resourceful and more willing to take on the responsibility of home-based education. In addition, many of the instructional barriers that once discouraged parents from homeschooling are lower in new, sophisticated, online material.

Is Homeschooling Right for Your Family?

But before jumping onto the homeschooling bandwagon, it makes sense to evaluate the costs and critical elements of schooling options that are available and possible for you and your child. The chart below is designed to help you compare schooling options and spot the most promising ones.

As you complete the chart, bear in mind these important considerations:

  • Hours per day – Successful homeschooling (even unschooling!) requires adult guidance and supervision. A homeschool parent needs schedule flexibility and availability but also the interest and patience to provide consistent guidance and supervision on a daily basis. 
  • Curriculum – All students benefit from challenging, knowledge-based curricula in subject areas such as social studies and math. All students, and especially those with dyslexia, need a structured literacy curriculum. They may benefit from using technology, such as audiobooks, to access their subject matter curricula. 
  • Costs – Costs may include:
    • Tuition or fees
    • Curricular materials or subscriptions
    • Technology
    • Extracurricular activities
    • Transportation
    • Uniforms or other clothing
    • Special testing (e.g., some states require annual testing for homeschoolers)
    • Lost income
  • Requirements – Some private schools have admissions requirements, and public and public-charter schools often have residency requirements. Some states have homeschool requirements. See Homeschool Laws by State.
  • Pros & Cons for the child – Think about the setting(s) in which your child is most attentive and engaged. Some students learn best in group situations, with peer engagement. Others learn best in one-on-one discussions with an adult or when using interactive media. Knowing what helps your child pay attention and stay engaged is important because attention and active engagement are two of the four “pillars” of  learning.

homeschooling with dyslexia chart

Summarizing their 2021 multi-day, virtual conference on The Post-Pandemic Future of Homeschooling, the Harvard Kennedy School of Education leaders concluded, “The success of homeschooling seems to depend largely on the individual child and parents.”  

Even if you decide that homeschooling is not the best option for your family at the present, there are plenty of things you can do to help your struggling reader at home

Lexercise is Here to Help when Homeschooling a Dyslexic Child

To learn more about dyslexia, homeschooling, and the latest resources to support you and your child, sign up for the Lexercise blog below. If you suspect that your child may be a struggling reader or have a learning disability, visit the Lexercise testing page and take the first step toward helping your child become a skilled and confident reader and writer.

Flipping Virtual Structured Literacy Intervention

Teachers have been using Lexercise for Schools to provide online lessons for their struggling readers during the coronavirus pandemic. Many of these teachers have been offering us valuable feedback and telling us what they need in order to reach more students. These conversations have led to some exciting changes in the teacher dashboard and the flexibility with which teachers can use the Lexercise for Schools platform. 

In the pre-pandemic days, teachers started with a 45-minute lesson. Online student practice followed each lesson. But teachers told us that some students couldn’t be there for the lesson; some had school scheduling difficulties or – especially since the pandemic has closed schools – due to internet connectivity issues. Practice, on the other hand, has been less of a barrier because it can be done at any time or, in a pinch, using a cell phone, connecting with cellular towers rather than cable or fiber internet.

With this valuable feedback in mind, we have re-designed the Lexercise for Schools teacher dashboard. Instead of a lesson-first protocol, the changes make it easy for a teacher to begin with a few days of student practice using Lexercise games. The Lexercise interface reports each student’s accuracy so, after a few days, the teacher can see who is mastering the decoding and spelling patterns and who isn’t. The teacher can get a detailed report on every student’s practice to see exactly which words and which concepts are causing difficulty. Then the teacher can schedule an individual or group  lesson and/or short concept-focused instruction to explain and provide guided practice with the concept(s).

Illustration: Accuracy report showing a student’s practice-game results

We have actually anticipated this model for some time. Over the last few years, our data have indicated that most struggling students can master decoding and spelling concepts with just the implicit and explicit instruction provided by the practice games platform.

Starting with a little practice instead of with a face-to-face lesson is  a “flipped classroom” model.  Direct instruction is provided after, not before, initial engagement and practice. Over the past decade,  research has indicated that a flipped classroom model can be very effective, especially with regard to improving student motivation. (See, for example,  Brame, 2013.)

Every day, we see teachers responding to the unanticipated demands of becoming instant online teaching experts. We are extremely grateful for the work they are doing, and for the time they have taken to offer feedback on the Lexercise platform. We are excited and pleased to be able to roll out this change quickly in response to their observations and suggestions.

 

Reference:
Brame, C., (2013). Flipping the classroom. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. Retrieved from http://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/flipping-the-classroom/.