Dyslexia and Home Education

Some families have found that Home Education works well for Dyslexic children. A different perspective on dyslexia - One family's story.....

We Home Educate both of our boys: B (11) and M (8). We've been Home Educating for just over 3 years - B went to school until he was 8, but was bored to complete distraction. M never went, partly because we could see that he was a bit different and whilst he could probably have been made to fit in at school, we had enough experience of his kind of temperament (for want of a better word) within our wider family to know that he was going to have a lot of problems and, probably, a lot of unhappiness and loss of self-confidence.

We have realised over the past year that M is dyslexic. Again, a family thing. My sisters picked up on it (one is dyslexic, they each have a dyslexic son) and everything fell into place at once. The funny thing is, we have generally been doing most of the 'right' things without even thinking about it. Because he's Home Educated , we've been able to try out different things when he was obviously finding reading/writing hard going, simply by thinking "I wonder what would help here?"

He can now read well, although he doesn't enjoy it particularly and tends only to read things because he really needs the information, or things which have good 'clues' as to context in the pictures. Gradually he's getting a bit more grasp of phonics, and his spelling is improving markedly - he can now write a simple sentence of one and two syllable words with very few mistakes. He hasn't got the hang of joined-up writing, but prints short messages relatively easily in block capitals. He can also word-process and use the spell-check, which has a knock-on effect with his spelling generally. He's doing OK and certainly has enough basic skills to do what he needs to do. As to what will happen later on, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. We haven't gone for any kind of diagnosis yet because I don't want to make an issue out of it, and because he's getting along fine so far. It may be useful to have an official diagnosis when he's older and wants to do exams, or if we feel that we're coming to a complete impasse.

I think the biggest bonus of Home Education is that it has allowed M's real talents to emerge. I'm not sure they would have done had he been at school, because I think his confidence would have been shredded. He is sensitive, emotionally very volatile and has a lot of hyper energy - a problem in a classroom, without a doubt. However, he went into the Guildhall (one of the music colleges in London) on their Junior scheme when he was 7 because, it turns out, he is a very able percussionist. *Now* I can understand why he needs all that physical energy - it's pretty exhausting hammering a set of timpani for 45 minutes at a stretch - and why he is constantly tapping his feet, clicking his fingers and jigging in his seat :o) So are all the other percussionists in the department!!

One of my adult nephews (severely dyslexic, quite hyper) is a dancer. Now, if anyone had listened to his primary school teachers, he was a bundle of deficits and destined for total failure. He was also bullied and miserable at school. However, he got into the Royal Ballet School and my sister stopped getting summoned up to school with monotonous regularity. When she cautiously asked about his 'behaviour problems' at a parents' meeting, they looked puzzled and said that he was no different from all the other boy dancers there. Of course! He *needed* to be the way he was. How else do you dance for 6 hours a day if you're not hyper? How do you have such a remarkable sense of form and visual effect if you are word-bound?

Sadly, we have got so used to being rammed into conformity that we have made 'difference' pathological. Oh, I'm not saying that dyslexia doesn't exist - but it is less of a problem outside of a word-oriented environment. Children *have* to develop quite high levels of reading/writing skills in school because that is the medium through which they are taught everything else. Children *have* to sit still in a classroom because there are 30 of them and it would be a nightmare if they didn't. At home, there are so many more options and, I think, because the pressure is off reading/writing, it removes the anxiety which so often exacerbates the problem.

It is so hard for our system to cope with the idea that 'difference' does not equal 'problem', and to avoid conveying messages of failure, stupidity and deficiency. Of course our dyslexic children are deficient at school - it's a system geared to those who aren't dyslexic!! It's a bit like judging high-jumpers against javelin-throwers!! A few schools manage that concept, but not very many, and as 'normal' children are streamlined into increasing conformity, they are all too ready to pick on those who are different because it gives them a sense of relief to recognise that somebody is worse at conforming than them.

I guess I'm fortified by a profound conviction that our children are born the way they are because they *need* to be that way, and it's not for us to interfere or try to change that, apart from coaxing the extremes of individualism into something more socially considerate :o) Given acceptance, self-confidence, love, whatever else we can offer our children, they can blossom into who they are meant to be - but interfere with that creative potential and it becomes a powerfully destructive force.

Would I recommend Home Education? Without hesitation. It's not always easy, but it's a darn sight easier than battling with schools, or coping with that gut-wrenching misery of feeling 'it's me and my child against the world'.

You could always decide to try it for a year - you have to work *really * hard to do any damage in one year :o) - and then see how you feel about it. That's how we started, and now we can't imagine doing anything else. Good luck! It's a frightening decision to make, and it's only later on that you can look back and say "Why were we so scared?"

"Children present the best evidence for a psychology of providence. Here I mean more than providential miracles, those amazing tales of children falling from high ledges without harm, buried under earthquake debris and surviving. Rather, I am referring to the humdrum miracles when the mark of character appears. All of a sudden and out of nowhere a child shows who she is, what he must do. These impulsions of destiny frequently are stifled by dysfunctional perceptions and unreceptive surroundings, so that calling appears in the myriad symptoms of difficult, self-destructive, accident-prone, 'hyper' children - all words invented by adults in defence of their misunderstanding." - James Hillman 'The Soul's Code - In Search of Character & Calling'

Home Education links:
Free Range Education

Choice in Education

Education Otherwise


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