Tsundoku

What a great word! The Japanese coined this to explain the phenomenon that readers don’t always read all the books they own. Another author named this the ‘antilibrary,’ which doesn’t sound like such a good thing. The New York Times had an article about this concept not too long ago and it popped up on my personal FB feed tonight. Before I launch into a week-long discussion about the Big Five of Literacy, I thought this article would be worthwhile.

While I’m an admitted bookworm, I haven’t read everything in my home library yet. I like the word ‘yet’ there. I may eventually get through all of them. According to the author of the NYT article, as well as the author of the book the article cited, most people read about 10% oh their personal libraries. I’m WAY above that average, much closer to the 80 or 90% range– depending on the season. Enough about me and my reading, let’s talk about what this article’s wisdom might have for a struggling learner.

Do readers have to read everything? Do we have to finish every book we begin? Do readers really have to dissect every last story, analyzing each one to the nth degree? As someone who loves literature and teaches composition classes, there is definite merit to doing these things. However, I caution both parents and teachers that to do these things to every single book is to kill what reading should be! I’m not naive enough to believe that all schoolwork will be pleasurable, but the converse is also true–it shouldn’t all be drudgery either!

Here’s the article I mentioned above: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/08/books/review/personal-libraries.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur
When I get back on my computer, I’ll embed this link the same way as the rest of them.

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Stealth Dyslexia

As if parents of struggling learners didn’t have enough to worry about, here’s another term to become familiar with: Stealth Dyslexia.  I linked a page to my FB page today about this term.  The page I linked there, from Understood, explains the basics about what to look for in your child.  If you already suspect this might be the case, read David Kilpatrick’s book, Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties. This is a tough book to get through, but the chapters are chock full of information.  Because it is so important to get your child the right remediation plan, you really do need an accurate diagnosis!  (Speaking of getting the right Dx, have you had time to read Wright’s Law yet?)

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Strengths

Over these past few days I’ve been talking about how dyslexic kids have lots of great strengths.  Very often, they are amazing with their visualization skills.  They are often very savvy with tools too–able to fix things or make them better in ways that others just barely see.  This is because they can often see things multi-dimensionally. Just like an expensive computer aided design program can rotate things on a screen, these kids can do that in their heads!  Very often, you will find that dyslexic kids are amazing at verbal skills.  Sometimes developed as a coping skills to hide their difficulty with reading, these kids can talk a great story!  Coming back to spatial skills for a minute, these can manifest themselves in another way–on a playing field–where dyslexic kids also often flourish.  They can move their bodies in such a way as to manage to catch the ball, break down the golf swing, or send the football exactly where it needs to go.

If you are curious about where your child’s giftings lie, you can try this little questionnaire that someone in the O-G community shared with me several months ago.  In order to test it, I answered the questions for everyone in my family.  The results were not only interesting, but spot on.  Since some of the questions really relate more to school-like things, I answered those as if each of us were still about 12 years old.  Be sure to save the map visual you receive after finishing the questions. Those results can provide great insights for your child’s IEP.

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Phonemic Awareness

I posted this link on my FB page today and want to include it here as well because Phonemic Awareness is so vital.  One of the things that had me wondering if my own son might be dyslexic, all those years ago, was that he didn’t seem to “get” rhyme.  The Cat in the Hat and other similar stories didn’t tickle his ears the way they should have.   It turns out that the boy did indeed have a learning issue.  In fact, to this day he still can’t pass the Barton screening, but I shouldn’t be surprised by that.  It’s not like dyslexia or auditory processing disorders “go away” like a lingering cough eventually will.  Although that is certainly the case, phonemic awareness skills can indeed be improved!  This is great news because Phonemic Awareness really helps plug holes in the English code that most dyslexic students seem to have.

One of the best things I’ve found to help with this is David Kilpatrick’s book, Equipped for Reading Success.  What a treasure trove of fun (and short) activities!  Every single student I have used them with thoroughly enjoys them.  I do too, which is really saying something because I’m just not any fun!  (Ask my husband and kids.  They’ll tell you.)  Here’s the promised link.  I wish the page was larger, but this preview offers the directions for administering the test and how to play with the sounds.  It also offers four forms of the PAST Assessment, which should hold you over until the book is back in stock.  Enjoy!

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Cursive, Yes, Cursive!

Cursive writing should not be relegated to the realm of a secret code for older people!  Instead, it should be taught, perhaps even taught first, and definitely should be taught to dyslexic children.  The late Diana Hanbury-King wrote a wonderful (and short) article for the IDA on the merits of cursive that you can find here.  Liz Fitzgerald, who created a handwriting curriculum called, aptly enough, Cursive First, outlines her rationale here.  It makes so much sense when you think about all the great reasons for cursive, especially for children who are prone to reversals as dyslexic children are–you cannot make a reversal in cursive!  Think about it.  Try it.  You can’t.  Cursive can be so much more than either a secret code or just a scribble on a paycheck.  It can be the gateway for helping your child fully enter the world of reading and writing!

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I decided to take the weekend off …

and went to the Covered Bridge Festival at Knoebels.  This amusement park is an interesting venue in Pennsylvania, not just because you can walk around the place for free, or because the paper tickets for the rides have no expiration date, or even because the owners search for and save vintage rides–especially carousel pieces.  All of these are fun reasons to go to Knoebels if you happen to be near Catawissa, PA, but they are not why they have made the Dyslexia Awareness Month blog posts.

Are you curious?  Well, if you were one of my students, you would know that there are four choices for spelling the sound of /n/.  Of course, there is the ‘n’ itself, the 14th letter of the alphabet, but there are also three other options: the Greek two-letter /n/ that is spelled ‘pn,’ the Latin two-letter /n/ that is spelled ‘gn,’ and the Germanic (or Middle English) two-letter /n/ that is spelled ‘kn.’  The name Knoebels uses the older pronunciation, /k-n-O-belz/ (I don’t know where the schwa is on my keyboard–that’s the upside down ‘e’ that you see in the dictionary).  Yes, these folks say both the /k/ and the /n/ sounds, unlike when you hear the word ‘knee’ today, which only says /n-E/.  All of my students easily learn this sound because when I connect it to Knoebels, which is kind of a big deal around here, it sticks!

But, wait, there’s more!  Did you know that Germanic ‘kn’ two-letter /n/ may only be used at the beginning of a base word?  The Latin ‘gn’ two-letter /n/ may be used at the beginning or the end of a base word.  You would notice that last part when analyzing a word such as ‘sign’ and it’s derivative, ‘signal.’  In ‘signal,’ the syllable is divided between the ‘g’ and the ‘n.’  The Greek ‘pn’ isn’t very common, but you do see it.  You’ll probably never look at these phonograms the same way again, but how cool is that?!?  In case you are wondering, English really DOES make sense, but only if you take into account the morphology (word parts), the etymology (history), and the phonology (sounds)!

Until tomorrow, …

Many blessings,

Chris

P.S.  Shhhhhhh!  I found some really cute presents for some of my students while I was at the craft fair … but they will have to wait until Christmas break for them, especially since I still have treasures to find for the remaining students.

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A Great TED Talk

I found this on Gina Cooke’s Facebook page, LEX: Linguist~Educator Exchange.

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Co-Morbid Problems

Have you ever heard about the triad that goes with kids who have allergies?  They often have eczema and asthma too.  Maybe it’s that kids with asthma often have allergies and eczema?  I forget if it goes both ways.  I do know that our dermatologist told us a long time ago that the three go together.  In fact, while at the doctor today, the PA explained it as the same thing, a problem with the skin, the lungs, or the nose–similar reactions due to similar reasons, but affecting differing parts of the body.

Dyslexia is similar.  Kids with dyslexia often have other learning issues, called in “educationalese,” comorbid problems.  These comorbid issues are often an accompanying diagnosis of dyscalculia and/or dysgraphia, but they can also run into behavior problems like ADHD, ADD, Executive Functioning issues, and other things.  There seems to be a whole slew of things that can crop up once a diagnosis of Dyslexia is on the table.  Unfortunately, sometimes the doctors, psychologists, and other professionals don’t agree on the terminology or the best practices for remediating or ameliorating these issues.  What’s a parent to do?!

If this is your world, you need to learn all you can about what’s going on with your child so you can help him or her.  Have you read WrightsLaw yet?  I’m going to stop right here tonight because once you head over to their website, you’ll be there forever!  Before you go, though, what I really want you to know is that you love your child and know him or her best.  Due to this, you are ideally suited to be the best possible advocate for your child!  Never forget that.  And never, ever, stop fighting for your child!  As my friend Emily Gibbons says on her blog … Until every child can read, …

Many blessings,

Chris

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Happy Birthday RH!

Five years ago today, my husband encouraged me to officially launch Reasonable Homeschooling.  Originally, the purpose of this business was to enable me to evaluate homeschool students in my area and help other mothers in their homeschool journey.  Today that vision has grown to include writing lessons in several areas and targeted help for struggling learners, including dyslexic students, in decoding, encoding, fluency building, handwriting, beginning composition, explicit comprehension–basically I cover all aspects of the arts of language.  I couldn’t be happier!  Over the years, my client base has grown from just a few local students to many more living in every time zone.  Surprisingly, there is even an international one!   Many thanks to each and every one of you who has helped this little business become a “real job” for me, one that I love doing and plan to continue for years to come–Lord willing!

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Praise for Susan Barton

As I posted on my FB page a few minutes ago, even though I don’t use Barton, I am very impressed with the wealth of information Susan Barton makes available for parents of struggling learners on her webpage.  Back when we were waist-deep in our own struggles, one of my sons could never pass the Barton screening. It turns out that he still has a significant auditory processing glitch! (As if you ever outgrow things like that!) Who knows why?! After all, we are indeed all created uniquely, so it stands to reason that some of us would be good at some things, while others of us are good at other things.  If you are curious about the screening I’m talking about, head over to my Facebook page (Reasonable Homeschooling) or check out the direct link to the page on Susan’s site.

As I mentioned yesterday, there are some things that dyslexic kids are often excellent at doing.  Because they often are made to feel somehow inadequate, especially if they face significant failures or setbacks in their learning and other people make issue of it, they really can use the extra boost that learning about the things they are good at can give them.  Here are several things that dyslexics tend to be quite good at doing (credit to Dyslexia Support Services in Australia):

Research has highlighted some positive aspects to being dyslexic:

  • Great at visual thinking- thinking in pictures
  • Fast problem solvers, able to think laterally
  • Excellent trouble-shooters
  • They are intuitive- good at reading people
  • Verbally articulate- great communicators
  • Creative- so many dyslexics are employed as designers, artists, actors, chefs
  • Spatially talented many dyslexics are employed as engineers, architects, designers, artists, mathematicians, physicists, physicians (esp. Surgeons and orthopaedists), and dentists.
  • Dyslexic people frequently enjoy above average physical co-ordination skills

If you need more encouragement, read The Gift of Dyslexia by Ron Davis or The Dyslexic Advantage by Brock and Fernette Eide.  Both are worth your time.  (Yay me!  I just figured out how to embed an italics font on the page!!!)

Until next time, …

Many blessings,

Miss Chris

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