Wednesday, February 16

I Will Not Let February Get to Me: Finding Affirmation

I've mentioned before that B is dyslexic.  I've also vowed to get him some help and this Saturday I did.  

I contacted a local educational consultant - slash author - slash "Outlier" (he's completed his 10,000 hours in the field for any of you who've read Gladwell's book), Jeffrey Freed.   He's worked with a couple of my friends' kids and I knew he'd be just the man to help B out and give me a feel for where we're really at with this.

I can tell you, I've never had an experience where I felt more affirmed. I think I was beaming as B completed every little activity Jeff asked him to do, even when it became more and more difficult.  Jeff assessed him in reading, spelling and math skills and when he was done he touted B's brilliance and giftedness and definite "right-brained" slant.  He even said, "I don't even think he's truly dyslexic, he's just that right-brained."   It's so good to see your child attempt something that you know is hard work and succeed (can you spell perpendicular backwards without a pause?  Now do it if you're dyslexic).

It's also good to be affirmed for making all the right choices for B in his life so far such as keeping him out of a cookie-cutter school experience, avoiding situations where he could be labeled or emotionally abused, giving him a non-pressured learning environment and encouraging him to continually push his feelings outward.

All these years, I've truthfully homeschooled for my oldest son.  He was the one that would have wilted in a classroom (or killed it, take your pick).  And in the past couple years as I've clued in to B's exceptional needs it turns out that homeschooling was the exact thing he needed too.  He wasn't just a tag-a-long in my endeavor to help my oldest, he was getting his needs met as well.  That's amazing because at one point I was almost convinced that he'd be a great public school kid...

God is good to us.

This week, we are customizing B's curriculum.  Since I'm already a unit study practitioner, it's already fairly customized.  But I'm trying out some of the things that Jeff suggested.  B is happier, I feel less pressured to add in more and more (Jeff said take stuff out!), and I'm praising him for asking questions.  Here are three things I'm focusing on right now:

1.  If B can't visualize it, he can't learn it. This means, write words in colors, even changing it at each syllable.  It means as he's reading silently to remind him to get a movie going in his head of what he's reading.  It means have him close his eyes as I take him through an auditory sequencing scene.

2.  Work his left hemisphere.  Because he sits so strongly on the right, his left is obviously weak.  So we're creating crossword puzzles, working through some sequencing exercising, and determining how similar things are different.  As I find more ideas I'll incorporate them.

3.  Use intensity in short periods.  The photo above is how we took a break yesterday.  Rather than plowing through our work before lunch, the boys went outside (yay!) and played in the biggest pile of snow we have left. After about an hour of play we finished our reading exercises and called it a day.  It'll take some getting used to for me to have a break in the middle but I think it's good.

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