Friday, February 28, 2014

The Dyslexia Debate

So I just finished reading an article on CTVNEWS.CA that there is a new book out called, "The Dyslexia Debate".

The author is Julian Elliot, a professor of education at Durham University. He brings the argument that there is too broad of a notion associated with the word Dyslexia and that ultimately he feels that it is bringing those classified in that group to harm because some may, in fact, not have Dyslexia. He goes on to say there should be no word referenced to Dyslexia except that of, "Reading Disabled." Elliot reasons that he feels it lacks in "scientific rigour and educational value" because those same children may 'just' be struggling to learn reading essentially, and they need to be referred to as "reading disabled." He also mentions that some children differ in areas of Dyslexia, and that lends to proof in an improper system for classifying anyone Dyslexic as a general. The article does however, continue to say he does believe in early detection and an individual profile for each student showing signs of reading struggles.

Although I agree that teachers need to be more aware and consistently checking for learning disabilities, and yes, they need to have profiles and be on top of these students who do have difficulty in any circumstance; I don't fully agree with what Julian Elliot is saying. Giving that this information is from an article and I have not gotten my hands on the book to read it first hand yet; Respectively, I can get a sense of what the ultimate push and goal is that the author sought for the book. I can understand his concern as a parent and teacher over my children. This is one of the main factors I originally started to Homeschool. It was the lack of awareness for their struggles and one-on-one for my child in the current school system. And though I agree there needs to be a change, I don't think what Mr. Elliot is proposing will work and could be detrimental to students. Here is why...

I think that he is pointing fingers in all the wrong directions, which will deter the help that many children still desperately need. Truly, will it really harm children who may be miss-diagnosed to have extra phonemic awareness help and one-on-one training by Special Educators? That is not the real problem here.

 There is a problem. That is a fact. 

But where should we be looking? It is most certainly not in redefining a child's reading difficulty, or undermining the real problems of Dyslexic children.

 It is finding a solid solution! 

 Let's take a look at what the parents have to go through:
 Parents are on the front lines and often notice problem signs. They heed the voice of concerned Teacher's saying it is normal, it will work itself out and then hit a wall at Grade 3. After that comes the dreaded, " You don't want to 'label'."

So, labelling has never been the real issue! Teacher's usually try to avoid it, I know mine did and many other people mentioned it to me personally.

Giving that there are variables within the Dyslexic realm, it may be hard to identify Dyslexia precisely. This can pose another problem, which Elliot also mentions. I don't agree that because one student shows a great difficulty in comprehension and phonemic awareness, while another shows less strengths in writing portions, that this is not Dyslexia? Why not propose proper education of defined areas within Dyslexia? Mr. Elliot is still suggesting an over-all label called, Reading Disabled. Isn't that also a broad spectrum? Where are the definitions to help with specific struggles? Students are getting overlooked everyday and now might find help through the label Dyslexia. How will this change benefit them?

I have 5 children. I am Dyslexic. My Dyslexia looks a little different from my children's, but we all show the same difficulties. I may be stronger in writing, and grammar, but I have overcome some of those challenges. That doesn't mean I don't still struggle in those specific areas. It is because I have built a stronger neurological path for them. I still have trouble with identifying 'e' and 'i' phonemically. To this day, I can't tell some French words because of the lack of phonemic awareness. It does not just simply go away! Some kids may have worked very hard to get better at their problems before being diagnosed. You have to remember, they normally get diagnosed after grade three! That is a lot of hard work for the first four years of their school lives!

When a concerned parent notices an issue with decoding: reading, writing, grammar, spelling, that it may be a sign of Dyslexia, typically Teachers are quick to resort to, "Well, you don't want to LABEL Johnny now do you?" Remember these kids are not just a year behind, many are very far behind and simply CAN NOT catch up even though they are trying. They work so hard to do the little they can do. Even with that, there is a big out-cry and plea to keep our children as normal as possible. They can be fine and hide any problems by shoving them under the carpet. But they don't go away! That is no way to help individuals that really need help.

Honestly, how are these children even able to get help? Most Special educators are full and it is hard to get one. The teachers barely get assistance and have 20-30 students to care for. This is a huge problem for the educator to have to assist daily and accommodate a few students out of thirty. Its almost like asking them to be to do the impossible.

How do we fix it then?

 Well, here is the issue:
Once a teacher, parent or other influence, notices there are reading struggles, they think of many ways and tools in order to help the child to get them up to snuff. But, when they don't perform well or at all, failing time and again, they are left scratching their heads and turn to Dyslexia.

Instead, they really need to be aware of all of the child's warning signs and help to identify the learning disability. Not just quickly brand a child Dyslexic, but see...Is this Dysgraphia? Is it Dyslexia in its purist form? If it is writing is it motor issues like Dyspraxia? Is it Irlene Syndrome? Could it be a behavioural issue? Could it be an emotional issue? Could it be a practical issue, where previous teachers were not able to give appropriate time and work for the struggling student? They fell too far behind and simply can't progress without a great amount of help? In some ways, this may be where Elliot and I agree.

BUT, all these things do not stem from labelling. It comes from how the educators, parents and other influentional people in the child's life, are being instructed with, or have the-lack-of education within the knowledge of Dyslexia.

 Knowledge is key! 

I beleieve all teachers have to have a course on Dyslexia by an accredited course through an Orton Gillingham certified instructor. Or something similar, at least one crash course that really teaches aspiring educators what to look for and how to help those that are truly Dyslexic. Teach them how to look for various signs of other Learning Disabilities that are not specifically Dyslexia. Then you will start to see a shift in proper diagnose and less struggling readers thrown into the mix with them.

I think there needs to be an overhaul of the educational system as well. This is just wishful thinking on my part though. I went through the public school system barely knowing how to read. Nobody did anything about it! My mom couldn't help me, she had Dyslexia and didn't know what to do herself let alone help me with my schooling.

It wasn't until I went to college to become a teacher that it was final. They slapped a massive book down (along with other's for different courses) saying I needed to learn it in a week as well as give a written report showing that I comprehended it. That is when I cried and finally dropped out, confessing that I could not read well enough to even go to college. How sad! It wasn't my fault. Had I had more one-on-one with my teachers, I would have been more successful; Had I had Orton Gillingham one-on-one, I would have been incredibly successful!

I also have to agree with Mr. Elliot in the fact that there needs to be a change. But, I think it is more like an overhaul than a classification issue. 

This needs to be:

-Starting at the University level where teachers (who can wrongly diagnose children as well) are rooted in their education and stem. 

-Getting proper resources/education into the teacher's hands that are scientifically based/studied and not just thought provoking on Dyslexia. 

-Understanding the need for Orton Gillingham training for all teachers so they are better equipped in the classroom to bring a variety of learning for all of their students. 

-Less signalling out to focus on words descriptions and classification and get to the real problem at hand.

-More teacher action in the school system to better educate those children right from the very start.

These are what I propose will change the current need for clarification in the Dyslexic Debate.

Teach them right and they will learn! 

Any ways, thats just my two sense worth ;D
Happy Learning!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What is Love?

What is love?

I have recently had a learning experience from my children and had to put it into practice as hard as that is at times.

I believe love is an action. Another word for it is Charity, which literally means love-in-action.

Love is harder to give when there has been a wrong attached to it. It taints it, wounds it, mar's it and leave scars on it. Yet, God still asks us to love and forgive. This can be so hard at times.

Lets look at our kids for a few seconds. How often can we wound their love? Yet, they still look up to us and forgive us. How innocent! This is what I believe love really means. They can shake it off, hold no grudges and cling to us with their tiny arms for a big bear hug! How wonderful and pure that picture is.

God is calling us to that kind of sincerity in love.

Yes, it is hard!

Yes, there has been some terrible wrongs, believe me, I know!

But, can we pick up and be at least kind one-to-another, or do we keep the walls and barricades in order to protect ourselves?

I think when we do that, we forget who it is that is protecting us? Who it is that our hearts really need to be entrusted in? Who it is that is the judge of all?

In those times that our love has been damaged, we need to rethink and say to ourselves; How can we not love again? Did we, and do we not hurt God all of the time yet, He acts as though it never happened and loves us, embraces us even still? Do we not deserve less, yet He gives us more? Can we not do the same to those He also died for?

Love is a funny thing, and we as teachers need to look at those beautiful children whom God has entrusted us with and learn a little thing or two from them sometimes too!

Happy Learning!

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”The Thanks for lin

Saturday, February 22, 2014

School Days! A look at our last few weeks

Of Course we would not be Canadian if we didn't follow the Olympics :D

I had to give a detailed text-by text play of the US and Canada Hockey game for my dear thumbs were very tired afterwards!
But what a game that was...everyone played so good :) Congrats to USA

So, here is a snap shot of what we have been doing these last couple weeks:

Oldest wants to learn how to cook

He is only eight

 We went over stove safety, etc.

He was pretty proud of himself in the end. He did a great job and got a good breakfast out of it! A Two-for-One deal!


Lego building = following directions
Good for Health and Careers

The Master Craftsman :D

The next is a series of Art that we have done as a family!

This is mine and I call it,
 "Bitter Sweet"

Kindergartens (4Cats Art Studio)

Grade 1's (4Cats Art Studio)

  Grade 3's (4Cats Art Studio)

Grade 3's pen art

Hockey inspiration...even when there is no snow!

 Made "Homemade" laundry Soap....
A good tie into the Pioneer Days Study :)
Even my PreK helped us out with this one!

Attempted a Nature walk, but didn't get it in. Got to see chickens and feed them instead!
That was ok because Nature was in our backyard.

This beautiful bird, which is new to our area, was a true beauty to behold :D

Happy Learning and Thanks for coming along with us each week on our little Discoveries!

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Olympics and Dyslexics...A match made in Heaven!

In our house not much but Olympics is going on...and it is an awesome tool to incorporate a lot of learning...

Science, with force and motion, body and design, levers and you can add in more.

There is Social Studies with all of the Countries represented.

There is Health and Careers with goal setting, personal bests and World achievements.

There is P.E. I know we had some killer races that all my kids participated in to see if they could beat the clock or their own bests!

You can write reports, learn some new vocabulary words etc.

Lots of learning happens in the Olympics and it doesn't surprise me that a lot of Olympics are Dyslexic!!

Meryl Davis

Read this link below on Meryl Davis.
How one classroom changed by the encouragement of Meryl Davis

Steve Redgrave

“I did the same subjects as everyone else but found it hard to keep up, and always knew I wasn’t going to pass my 11-plus.”
He had special lessons with the headmistress, and spent a lot of extra time working on his reading. Still now, despite all the extra work, he still sees letters upside-down or backwards. He relied on his natural intelligence to get him through school.
“With dyslexia, your other senses become sharper. My memory was great at school but it has become appalling these days!”
Redgrave has won a whopping 17 gold medals, 2 silver, and 2 bronze at the Olympics games and Rowing World Championships as well as the Commonwealth games. 
He defines hard work and perseverance. He is a true, bonafide inspiration to aspiring athletes and dyslexics everywhere.

And here are a few more ;)

Michael Phelps

Duncan Goodhew

Be Inspired and Reach for your Goals...Embrace your Talents and Accomplish your Best!!!

Happy Learning!

And we hope Canada wins for Hockey :D

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Great Deal on CTC Math for Homeschooling Families right now!!!

So here is a bit more info on CTC Math for those of you who are not aware of them as well as the great offer they have on right now. 

It is similar to Teaching Textbooks except CTC Math tutorials are short, concise, and get the point across quickly. Great for Dyslexic learners as they are very good at slow instructions and you can reply the instructions as many times as you wish for full understanding of the concept. They are visual and so the children can see the problems, work and solutions being played out just like Teaching Textbooks.

Here is what a homeschooling mom in Michigan says:

"As a homeschooling mother of six, I find your website invaluable and appreciate all the work you have put into providing this great Math tutoring program. We work off textbooks, but these are not enough when it is really necessary to have actual face to face explanations.

The explanations on CTC Math are excellent - so clear and so simple to understand. We are all really enjoying Math (for the first time!). Many thanks for such a wonderful invention." Melinda Ainsworth

Patrick Murray, the founder of CTC Math, is an internationally acclaimed math teacher with more than 22 years experience teaching. He has the very rare ability to deliver math concepts in a simple, easy to understand way in just a few minutes.

With ten children of his own as well, Patrick understands very clearly the time restraints homeschooling families have in getting through everything "on the list."

With a no hassle, 12 month, money back guarantee, checkout what they are offering for the next 3 days only!

A 12-month family membership to CTC Math provides unlimited access for all of your children to all lessons for an entire year. 

This is normally $297 but Patrick looks after homeschooling families. You get a whopping 60% discount so the price drops to just $118.80.

If you take advantage of this special offer before February 15th, 1 year turns into 2! A full 24 months! That's right you get an extra 12 months membership as a free bonus.

It's a great investment in your child's education and confidence. So for only $1.14 a week, get rid of your math problems for good!

Click here to get the special homeschool discount rate.

Homeschool bonus offer!
But hurry, this extra bonus offer is only available until February 15th! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Understanding Dyslexia

I think the most crucial thing for us as Homeschooling parents is to understand how our children learn and respond to the education we are providing them. 

For some of us this is the basis as to why we even started Homeschooling in the first place, others for  drastically different reasons, and then through the process of Homeschooling came to the same road blocks unintentionally. 

Some of our children struggled with how they processed information and were falling behind in the standard square-boxed educational system. Yet, some of those same children are bright and often very advanced in many other areas. These issues and many others including a definite calling of God to this task, is why we began the journey of Homeschooling for our children.

In light of all of that, we get discouraged and hit road blocks that seem impossible to climb over if we do not understand how these precious children process the information we are attempting to provide for them. 

When it comes to Dyslexia in particular, it is really hard for those who are not Dyslexic to grasp how the person who has Dyslexia thinks. It is also very important for those with Dyslexia to understand how they think and ways to work with their thought processing for the written word. 

Many times it also is in degrees for each child who is Dyslexic. For example, one may have strong Dysgraphia and auditorial discriminational problems, while another may have a hard time getting thoughts down in sequence and understanding vocabulary, letter positioning, or spelling, etc. 

It is so important to understand where your child struggles and get the proper resources to help them understand and succeed. 

In the Simulations below you will see how Un-Dyslexic participants feel after they do tasks similar to what a Dyslexic might be feeling. I have to admit it was so nice to see someone feeling and experiencing some of things that I personally experienced in school. I was the best disguiser and just hid in class to avoid many of these things. What an eye-opener this is!

This next  very informative video, describes well how we use thoughts very differently from the non-dyslexic populous. 

These two video's describe how someone with a DL processes auditorial and positional information for the written word. 

Getting all of this great information can really help in our preparation for Homeschooling. It can help us to individualize our child's needs and help to find the accommodations they need for them to succeed and be everything that God has created them to be!

Embrace their Innovations, Imagination, Athletic Abilities, Machinery Mechanisms they love to do, Building Projects, Aspirations, Drawings, Space Explorations, Business Adventures and of course their LOVE of learning.

Let them experience this amazing world through the mind of a Dyslexic and watch them do extremely well!

Read another great Post on Embracing uniqueness in your Child

And of course....

Happy Learning :D

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Friday, February 7, 2014

School Days :D

Bit and Pieces of our week in school!

Healthy Morning Breakfast :D 
The boys have been wanting to eat more Spinach. 
So, we have been incorporating them into our meals

Wordly Wise Vocabulary Study for Grade 3'er

Sing Spell Read and Write for Kindergartener

Just Write Book 2 & Ruth Heller Adjective Book
In Adjective work for the Grade 3'er

Lexia :D

Pre-K Box for my Pre-K'er

On his Own Reading for Grade 3'er

Read Aloud for Mommy for Grade 3'er

Health Study

Rev. 22 about the Sun in Apology Science and Astronomy Study. 

Did an experiment about the rotation of the Earth around the Sun in its Orbit.

While the earth is rotating too! LOL it was hilarious and dizzy for them, but really fun!

Our Adventures in Odyssey Lunch Breaks

For lunch....We made Homemade Calzones or Pizza Pockets with Spinach and Chicken in a red sauce...VERY NUMMY! My Grade 1 Pre-K'er  helped with these...mainly the Pre-K'er just ate the dough...but they had fun :D

Kindergarten letter/number formation with clay

Word work with puzzles for grade 2 and CCVC words.

Sight word puzzles for Grade 3

Read alouds for Grade 1 
(but really everybody listens and participates for each of their books) 

Read alouds for Kindergarten

Awesome Science Experiment...see we finally got to it :D

Nature Walk discoveries!
We tied this into our Apology with Botany and evergreens study.

Daddy-time and Health videos :D
Also, did soooo many other things!! Too much to document lol But had an awesome week.

How was your week? 

What did you do? 

I would love to hear about it!

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Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Homegrown Learners