Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Dyslexia Therapy with NON-dyslexic kids? YES INDEED! Part 3: 5th grade

PART 3 in "Dyslexia Therapy with NON-dyslexic kids".  And, YES, you have read the title correctly!  This mini-series is all about using dyslexia therapy with kids who DO NOT have dyslexia!      In this post we will continue with A10's story...

     A became a 5th grader.  Nothing has changed.  He still can barely muddle through a "Flat Stanley", he keeps finishing all of Reading Eggs and then retaking the test and scoring into the program still (although it's better each time).  He still can not read well enough to do Reading EggsSpress (which is the next level of reading eggs and works differently). Writing is still a joke and he has no spelling or grammar consistency.   He is a year ahead in math.

     Early in the school year (I think it was the end of September or beginning of October) I was helping a friend with a purchase order for her umbrella school and was introduced to Do It Yourself Homeschool Journals by the Thinking Tree/Dyslexia Games.  These journals are AH-MAZE-ING.  You can read about why we love them so much here! I didn't really know much of anything about them or the company but thought they looked like great fun and a wonderful way to encourage my kids to explore learning.  (They are all that and SO MUCH MORE)

     So, I made my purchase and subscribed to her FB page.  I wanted to watch for sales on new products and her company primarily falls under "Dyslexia Games".  Well, I started getting things in my news feed about dyslexia and eventually I started paying more attention.  I became very curious about the dyslexia series and wondered if perhaps it might be good for A even though it was clear that he didn't have dyslexia.  My mind was made up when, one day, I saw THIS picture!
The image that changed the way I saw A and helped me understand what was
going on in his head!
     These are all the "markers" for dyslexia.  These are things the "Left Brain" should do.  I started reading them.  While A does not have all of them he has a few and all of a sudden, THINGS BEGAN TO MAKE SENSE!!!  A has, what I now call, Left Brain Gaps.  AND here is what they are:
  • READING: losing place in text, moving and overlapping text, and needing to re-read.
  • SPELLING:  can't remember what words looks like, difficulty "hearing sounds", and similar sounds cause confusion.
  • WRITING: difficulty getting ideas on paper, organizational problems, can't find the right word.
     Everything else he doesn't have a problem with, but THOSE THREE THINGS ARE MAJOR!!!!  My boy's brain finally made sense to me.  He has gaps!  Here are examples of things he does:
  1. You can tell him how to spell "rocket", have his trace "rocket", have him look at and copy "rocket".  Then take all helps away and just tell him to write "rocket" and you will get something like "rokut".  There is NO spelling memory!
  2. When he reads, he constantly pauses, back tracks and re-reads.  It's painstaking.  Well, when you have no "spelling memory", one has to constantly re-learn each word!  
  3. Writing.... well, I was happy when he dipped his toes a bit into comics and would write things like "bam", "wush" (woosh) and "halp" (help).  Intricate drawings with very little words.  It would take him a long time to choose a word, and the fact that, as he got older, he knew he didn't have the skills to write what was in his head, he was pretty unmotivated.  Writing was not fun, it was all work.
       Listening to A trying to read was so long, so boring, so tedious, and so..... mind numbing.  I'd sit there and smile and encourage him during our "tutoring session" but inside I was dying!  It took the poor kid 2 minutes to read "Dad, came home in his blue truck".  A would read a word or two, back up, process, add another word, back up, process, say things to himself like "ok, yah, "Dad", "truck, oh yes, ok, truck". Then he would read the whole sentence over, more from auditory memory than actual reading.  Progress..... right.
      Interestingly enough, if you said a word to him, like "Can you find the word dragon", or "pick", or whatever word you said, on the page, he could usually find it.  His "auditory reading" was fine and when he knew what the "word said as a whole" he could find it.  The words are all up in his head!!  Thank you reading eggs!!!  But why are they stuck and how do I get them out???

     I'd like to talk about that for a minute, Reading Eggs that is.   You see it really is an amazing program! A loves using it (as does his younger siblings too).  I love that it is such a fun, systematic way to teach reading, AND I do not have to do it.  With so many other kids in the home, it is nice that I can delegate this one to an online program.

     So, A has been working through reading eggs.   It's helping.  He's passing levels.  The words are in his head.  But he can not do the next level, which is, reading eggspress, because he can't actually read consistently.  I know this sounds weird.  I really do not know how to explain it.  So, I just kept resetting reading eggs, having him re-take the placement test, he would always score a little higher that the last time, and he would continue with doing reading eggs lessons.  (NOTE:  my other kids who are younger than him doing reading eggs have not had the same outcome.  The words get in, the words are remembered.  The program works!)
     I decided not to stress it.  The words are getting in there.  The program is fun and creative.  I AM SEEING PROGRESS but it's slow.  I figured, we will keep moving along and eventually, everything will just click!

Language Lessons - Charlotte Mason Style Language Arts    I will say, that at the beginning of his 5th grade year, we did start to see some real forward progress.  Between September and October he progressed to being able to read a "flat Stanley" by himself and quickly ditched those for Magic Tree House books.   He could read very short instructions as long as they had "common" words.  Nothing too long or fancy.  More or less though, he skipped over any word he thought was "hard" and I am not really sure that he was "getting" most of what he was reading.  Afterall, it's hard to like a story when you are missing half of it through lack of reading the words.  But I was happy at the progress I saw.
  He was also able to do, with relative ease, the Queens 3rd grade book.  This was pretty huge.   Queens is gentle and lovely.  We love Queens!  I would read the directions and A did the work; we modified some stuff.  He still had trouble with long lengths of text.  But, he could do it and within a reasonable amount of time.

     This brings us back to The Thinking Tree and Dyslexia Games.  I felt like I was starting to unravel a mystery with A and that picture I saw was the beginning.  I had already considered possibly doing the dyslexia series with him, not because he has dyslexia but because, well, I was willing to do anything I thought might help him.  It still kind of sounded a bit crazy to me though.  
     We did purchase the do it yourself homeschool journals.  I immediately, like, IMMEDIATELY saw changes in A.  The homeschool journals are written and designed with "right brained kids" in mind, while still working just fine with "left brainers".  A definitely falls more on the "right brain" side.  A also has these "left brain gaps".  The journals say "draw or write".  Now the pressure was off for A.  He could read things and draw his comprehension- BRILLIANT!!!
     We got him a reading journal.  For whatever reason, having a book to record his readings was a huge motivator for him.  It's weird because I would print out similar type pages for a folder but none of my kids really liked that, BUT A READING JOURNAL... Hello the reading exploded in my house!  I think it's no coincidence that the getting of the homeschool journals and the acceleration in A's reading coincided together. We saw this in other areas too!  He started to whiz through his LA book with little help needed.  He was consuming Magic Tree house books.  He was interested in finding words, writing, and making birthday cards that actually said something!
      A told me (not to long ago) that his homeschool journal helped him read.  He said things were easy to read and understand in there, that he liked finding words for the spelling pages, he wanted (did you read that?  wanted...) to write more because he wanted the names of the books he was reading by the pictures.  A liked reading things he picked out and watching documentaries on things he was interested in and recording his work.  A was inspired!
A working in his homeschool journal.  I tell you what, he went from a kid
who tolerated school to a child who LOVED LEARNING!  Thank You
Thinking Tree!  Your journals made the difference!
     Sprinkled throughout the journals are "brain games" and "dyslexia fonts/helps".  Was this part of what was helping?  I had no idea!  BUT what I saw was a very educationally excited 10 year old boy!  I decided then and there to stop with my normal K-4thish curric and pare down.  Thinking Tree Books or bust baby!!!! (In all fairness- he did finish his Queens 3rd grade book.  He was truly moving at an accelerated speed and finished the book in November.  I did not get the Dyslexia Games books until December- so it worked out).
     I ordered fun-schooling spelling journals for A on down (roughly K-5th), and they added that to their homeschool journals and reading journals (A only on that one), and they all do reading eggs and math.  And then, well, then, I decided to look very closely at the dyslexia games series.  If the little bits in the journals were helping A, then the whole program should really help!  A obviously was right brained and the whole thing with dyslexia games is brain training in fun ways!  So, I ordered the whole series.... all three levels!

Stay tuned for part 4!
LINKS for this series:
Part 1,
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

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