You know, this is just one of those questions to which there is no easy answer. It really does take as along as it takes! Sure, there are things you can do to speed up the process–and they work some of the time, but not all of the time, and certainly not all of the time for all kids. In the same way, there are also things that you can do that are detrimental to the process of learning to spell, write, and read–but these, too, do not always cause trouble for all kids all the time. You see, kids are unique. We all are! What a boring world this would be if we weren’t all different. As you let that thought really sink into the marrow of your bones, think about another one that is equally profound–you, as a parent, love your child more than anyone else on the planet does. You should! That’s part of the whole parenting “gig.” We want our children to succeed and it’s painful to watch when they don’t–no matter what the reason. I just want to reassure those of you who are in the trenches that success does come; however, the road to success is paved with hard work, some tears, and lots and lots of loving support.
“But, Chris, how long should this be taking us every day?” you might be wondering. “It seems like all we’re doing is reading and writing. There’s no time for anything else! And with two (or three, or four) kids, I am not getting anything else done!” you may come right out and exclaim. I hear your frustration. I’ve been there. I know it feels like NOTHING else is getting done. I know the laundry is piling up, you have no idea what’s for dinner, and the math book hasn’t been cracked in a week, maybe more. When you feel like that, I have to remind you that remediating dyslexia takes time–and lots of it!
It takes as long as it takes. You can go as fast as you like, but it’s definitely still going to take as slow as the student needs. I liken it to a baby being born. Intellectually you know that the baby is going to come out one way or the other, but when you are in that 9th month and you are just tired of being pregnant, you really can’t hasten things too much outside of the natural order of things–not without there being some serious repercussions. Then, too, that labor will take as long as it takes. You can do a few things to speed it up a bit, but short of surgically removing the baby (which, thank God we can do when lives are the line), there isn’t much beyond time (and pushing) that is going to get you over that finish line with a jubilant, yet exhausted, smile and a sweet little bundle of joy in your arms!
In my first O-G training manual way back when I learned how to deal with my own children’s learning struggles, there was a page that had a chart that included a graph of how to break down the time each day that I “should” spend on the subject of “Language Arts.” That manual and the chart inside were originally written for classrooms, where you know everything takes longer to accomplish than it does at home. Over the years I’ve asked lots of different people how they thought the hours correlated between classrooms and homeschools. I am still waiting for a definitive answer. No matter. What’s really interesting is that this chart called for 2.5 HOURS PER DAY for the teaching of the full strands of English. WOW! Imagine how far a student could go with two and half hours being devoted to JUST to language skills every single day. There’s no use feeling guilty if you can’t provide that. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to do that and I’ve been homeschooling for nearly 25 years at this point. The point is just to imagine what that much time–focused time, I mean–would do for a child.
That said, there are only 24 hours in a day, which comes to 168 hours in a week. We have lots to do each day and more on our plates each week. Just because a goal might be out of reach doesn’t mean it isn’t worth at least trying to get closer to it. So, if 2.5 hours a day are far too much, do what you can, even if it happens in 10 to 15 minute increments several times a day. To put this in perspective a bit, sessions with my clients last about 50 minutes and I only see my students twice a week. I can’t do more with them because my case load is full. That doesn’t mean students shouldn’t be working on things at home! Remediation isn’t JUST about the time spent with the tutor working on spelling patterns, generalizations, or fluency. Language arts includes many strands. There’s the art of crafting legible letters, AKA, Handwriting or Penmanship. Parents can be reading aloud to their kids. Kids can read aloud to their parents, to younger siblings, or to the family pet. Students can write about their experiences. They can craft sentences using their spelling words. They can look up unfamiliar words or learn about vocabulary through the study of derivatives. They can read the words they have written. They can analyze the things they have written in order to discover more about how our language works. They can listen to audio books. They can talk about those books, too! There are tons of things kids can be doing to build up the time spent on the arts of language each day. If we remember that the strands that make up language arts all relate to communication and that communication includes listening, speaking, reading, and writing, the field is wide open for things we can be doing to fill these hours. You are probably doing more than you think you are, so leave guilt and accusations behind in the dust where they belong. Instead, I leave you with this encouragement: Don’t get weary of well doing, my friend!