Dyslexic kids usually need explicit, intensive instruction in anything that is language based, study skills are no different. Yesterday, I suggested a course of study in reading comprehension using a science or history textbook. Today, I have a fabulous link to some helps for learning to study. I’ve posted this on FB before, so if you remember if from there, sorry for the repeat.
This link talks about how to explicitly teach comprehension. It goes into more depth than my steps yesterday. My goal yesterday was to show you a way that homeschoolers can “double dip” by teaching comprehension via a content subject. If you need more information on how to teach summarizing, you should look into IEW’s flagship product, Teaching Writing: Structure and Style, which has the happy effect of teaching a ton of comprehension without you realizing it. If this is your first time with IEW, you should either find a tutor or use the new SSS lessons. For a dyslexic student, plan to go down a level to start because you want the sources to be easy to read and they do not use decodable text. For this reason, many people who work with dyslexic students wait to begin this.
Originally created for use with Tapestry of Grace curriculum, Writing Aids can be used by anyone with any curriculum. At it’s heart , it is a bunch of graphic organizers (contained on the CD or if you buy in digital format, in PDF) that are used to organize the information you will eventually use to write whatever your teacher or the curriculum has assigned. Included are also ways to assess the resulting writings. I’ve seen it used, but do check to be sure the CD is useable. You’ll also need to ensure that you have a way to access that CD! Hard to believe that’s “old tech” already!
I don’t know if this will still be on sale when you click on it, but Walking with Jesus is a very nice reading curriculum that focuses on the Reading to Learn stage of reading. I’ve used it successfully with my own dyslexic kids. This one also has graphic organizers but it also has explicit teaching for the teacher, which can be helpful if you are only just learning these things.
I usually recommend this technique once a child is fairly competent at decoding many words, but still behind where you would prefer them to be compared to established norms. While you can certainly have your child listen to a novel or even a textbook, once you are ready to more explicitly work on fluency and comprehension, a great way to go about this is through a textbook/student approach in one of the content areas. Pick science or one of the social studies areas, not both. I usually go with science because my more challenged dyslexic kids liked that better. Here’s what to do:
Buy both the teacher and the student book.
Buy any workbooks or a notebooks that go along with the course.
If you choose a science course, get the experiment kits. You want this study to be as in-depth and enriching as possible.
Review the teacher’s manual for the publisher’s proposed schedule. You are going to need to double or triple this timetable! Due to this, most people find that it’s best to do this type of remediation at some point between 5th and 8th grades, although I’ve done it in early high school, too.
Map out a proposed schedule for yourself, but remember that you will have to take as long as it takes! You can’t go faster than the student is able and the goal is not the stuffing of information into his or her brain. The real goal is to make the information STICK!
Begin to read. You will read together every single day, but you are going to do it with an eye toward utilizing study skills that will help the learning stay in the brain. This means that you are going to teach vocabulary in an explicit manner, teach note-taking skills, teach how to summarize information, teach how to answer comprehension questions, and even teach how to study for and take tests. All of this is golden for your struggling learner to we working on with you.
Go through the text in this step-by step manner, with both of you taking turns reading. Use “think aloud” strategies so that you are explaining to your student what you are doing as you grasp the information. It’s fine for you two to study something that is hard for you and that you don’t know well. In this way, your student will see that learning isn’t easy for anyone.
The main thing to remember as you are doing this is that nobody is born knowing how to do this stuff. Yes, it does come easier to some people, but everyone can learn it–even if it is hard to do. By tackling this together as a reading exercise, you are not only teaching the content subject and applying best practices in teaching reading, you are also tying heart strings–and that’s worth it!
On my FB page today, I mentioned that I can help you get started with Learning Ally. One reason why having dyslexic kids listen to audio books is because they can help bridge the gap between what they need to know and what they can easily decode. This becomes more and more important the older your student gets. This is one of the problems that comes when students don’t get the help they need. Here’s more information about this great tool and how audio books can help.
I have several sets of decodable readers that I like to use with students, but now that everything has gone online due to COVID, parents may want to purchase their own copies. The following list of sets are just the ones I have on hand here that are still available for purchase. There are many others available. Sadly, my all-time favorite series for teaching comprehension (once decoding is fairly set) is out of print and I no longer have any spare copies. We’ll be sticking with the document camera for that!
Cigdem Knebel has several decodable readers available, which can be bought in “real” and in digital format. You may not have known that she teamed up with the amazing Emily Gibbons to provide phonics and comprehension lessons to go with the books! Check them out here!
Executive functioning skills are another area where kids with language disorders often struggle. Not all of them, of course, but enough that you really ought to look into it. Here’s a good screener. Here’s an even more comprehensive one. If you think this is something you need to work on, look up any of the books by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare. Most have “Smart but Scattered” in the title. The one I linked you to is the general book, but they have one for teens and one for teachers, as well as ones that are geared to adults. Good stuff!