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Anyone with struggling learners and no disability?


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#1 goldenecho

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 04:58 PM

I love these forums, but it seems sometimes the only people in here who have struggling learners are people with children who have a medically diagnosed reason to be struggling.  (In other words, it seems everyone asking for help on this section of the forum appends it with, my son has Dyslexia or Austism or ADHD, etc.).  I can't be the only one who has a struggling learner who hasn't been diagnosed with anything? 

 

 

----

A side note on my son/situation/homeschool: 

I have two older kids who were both reading before KG and are perpetually ahead, and still in public school (one of them gifted, the other just really diligent with sort of personality type that just thrives in the structure of school).   They read early, before KG, and they were always ahead in math.   My youngest son didn't do anything early (save for summarization...which he's always been pretty good at).  Even emotionally he was always really young-hearted.  He is still heavy into make-believe at 9, gives hugs like it's going out of style, can be a bit clingy, and tends to gravitate towards little kid play.   He was not as prepared for school as my other too...which was partially my fault (my mom was dying...she passed away the first week of his KG.     He cried his way through KG and initially I thought it was just grief.   But it continued throughout the end of the year and made nearly no progress in KG in spite of loving his teachers and classmates, so I knew something had to change. 

 

At first but decided it was better to look for something different than to bring him home.   I even looked into a classical school but it seemed like tthe opposite of the gently paced environment that my gut said my son needed (because he needed to get away from the academic pressure that had made him hate school and learning in general, and really learn at his own pace, even if it was behind the norm).   As you can tell, I'm not really a classical homeschooler (though I love these forums...I appreciate the thorough thoughtful answers people tend to give here, and I do use some of the Well Trained Mind Curriculum).  I lead towards Charlotte Mason (which I've seen discussed here a lot, another reason I'm here).  Early on I was leaning heavily towards Waldorf, but it was a little bit too much in the opposite extreme for me, and plus we are a tech heavy family (my husband is a computer scientist), and while I liked a lot of the practices I couldn't related to the philosophy behind them.

 

 

 

 

--NOTE:  5 posts down I put A LOT more detail about what he's struggling with, what we've done so far, etc.. 

 

 

 


Edited by goldenecho, 21 March 2017 - 07:57 PM.


#2 OhElizabeth

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 05:00 PM

Kids are funny like that! You're still welcome here. :)  So tell us, what's up? What's happening and making things hard, and how are you dealing with it?


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#3 EKS

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 05:49 PM

How do you know he doesn't have a disability (or an almost disability)?

 

 


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#4 Crimson Wife

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 05:51 PM

Siblings are generally within 5 IQ points +/- of each other UNLESS there are disabilities. So I would say that you may be dealing with a "head in the oven and feet in the freezer" situation where the child is compensating for the disabilities with the underlying high cognitive ability. The one masks the other


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#5 kand

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 05:57 PM

How do you know he doesn't have a disability (or an almost disability)?

  

Siblings are generally within 5 IQ points +/- of each other UNLESS there are disabilities. So I would say that you may be dealing with a "head in the oven and feet in the freezer" situation where the child is compensating for the disabilities with the underlying high cognitive ability. The one masks the other

Yup. That was our situation here. My "struggling learner" turns out to actually be somewhere between highly and profoundly gifted. Her strengths are enough to mask her weaknesss enough to make them hard to figure out. Has your son been tested? If so, what kind of testing?
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#6 goldenecho

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 06:17 PM

Kids are funny like that! You're still welcome here. :)  So tell us, what's up? What's happening and making things hard, and how are you dealing with it?

 

I was actually editing to add a little bit more background/detail probably while you were typing that message.  :-)   But I'll add a little more about the specifics of what he's gone through and where he is now.   This is going to be a little long (thanks for your patience...though I understand if you don't have time to read through this...just figure details help). 

 

My youngest is my struggling learner.  He went to public school KG (just like his older brothers, still there) but after a horrible first year I have been homeschooling him ever since (he's 9 now).

 

My older two (in public school) are both ahead, but I'll admit I worked a lot more with them in the early years, and limited their screen time more (it was easier to limit their screen time because they were both so close in age, while it's harder to let older children have what I felt was a positive amount (as they were communicating with friends, and doing all sort of creative things on minecraft, as well as use for cartoons and such).  I wonder how much that played into it (yeah, big time mommy guilt here).   Another thing that played into it was that he preferred songs to stories at bedtime, and didn't gravitate towards being read do during the day (and forcing a toddler to sit and listen to stories didn't seem like a good idea).  When he did finally let me read stories to him at bedtime, he liked mainly first person stories and asked the characters questions, so I ended up add-libbing the stories to answer his questions a lot, which I didn't realize at the time was not allowing him to make the connections between the words and the letters that he needed.  It also meant he never did what my older kids did (memorize stories...another building block to reading).  And he also didn't like the ABC books and Number books that my older kids had enjoyed.    A lot of little things like that.

 

Add to it my mom was terminally ill at this time, and I was distracted, and KG really just crept up on me.  We didn't do preschool because I've never thought that was necessary, and it wasn't for my older kids.    He was excited about school at four, but at 5 when I really started to try to work on his ABCs to prep him for school (realizing he didn't even know them all yet...) he pushed back hard and started to not want to go to school so I backed off because I didn't want to jeapardize that.  I told myself "Well, my older kids were several grade levels ahead, so maybe he's not that far behind and all this will be covered and he will do fine.  But in my gut I knew he wasn't.  Emotionally, he had trouble even spending time away from me at Vacation Bible School the summer before KG.  I am not sure if redshirting was even an option as he has a Spring, not summer birthday...in hindsight I would have considered it.

 

 

 

And then, the first week of school, my mom died.  So I took his crying before school to be grief, because he otherwise loved his teacher and classmates.    But the crying before school continued throughout the rest of the year.  And academically he seemed stalled.  His teacher kept sending him home with extra practice activities to help try to catch him up in reading and math, but he seemed burned out, and those never went well, and I gave up trying on them because it seemed to me like he needed to play more and recover than have extra school piled on after school (and more crying over having to do that).

 

In our last parent-teacher meeting I asked about how much play happened in the classroom, and she said that her and the other teachers were hoping they would be allowed to do more play based learning under a new administrator coming in, but right now they were discouraged from doing that.  So at that point, I knew I wasn't sending him back.  We looked into private schools, but they all seemed like he would be even more behind his classmates and might face a lot of academic pressure there.  I decided to homeschool, but made my first priority building a love of learning and tearing down his fear of learning, and put academic achievement secondary to that.   So, we've done a really flexible structure with lots of choice, lots of play built in, and low pressure.  That means when he gets tired we take breaks and we don't do long homeschool days unless he just seems very engaged. 

 

And it's worked...he's gone from crying for twenty minutes before attempting a short Bob Book at his reading level, to asking to read the Piggie and Elephant books first (yes, he's still on Piggie and Elephant books at 9, but he ENJOYS reading them.)  He's gone from not being able to memorize ANYTHING (even if I just said "5+2 is 6, him not being able to even spit that back), to having a good portion of the addition facts memorized, being able to do some two part addition, and starting on subtraction (but we're still behind in math by about a year and a half I'd say).  He's gone from not being able to sit down through a whole Story of the World lesson to being able to listen through all of it (sometimes even without props, though he still struggles to retain anything without visuals).  In the beginning he couldn't remember any placement on a map, but now he can recognize Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, Africa.    Spelling has always been a little easier to him that reading...but he's never enjoyed writing, but recently he's opened up more to it (less struggle). 

 

 

His attitude from saying he can't do things has changed.  Now he calls himself a reader and says he needs to learn math so he can become a scientist.  So, I feel in one way like homeschooling has been very successful for him...but on the other hand, he's SO FAR behind, that I worry. 

 

He still reverses b and d sometimes.  There was a few words that he's reversed (was he would always read as saw for a while, and two letter words he still occasionally reads backwards).  So, yes, I've considered Dyslexia and plan to get him tested this summer.    Math I really struggle to teach.  I worry that I'm not serving him well there.  I tried Math U See and while it worked great for place value, it broke down in addition and we ended up mainly doing wrote memorization drills while jumping on the bed (with some concepts like the 9 trick and the doubles +1 trick).  Some of their ways of teaching he didn't repsond to, and I feel like I have to translate their lessons and I've been looking for something more scripted.  I'm going to try Addition Facts that Work and Subtraction Facts That Work.   I don't think waiting to teach subtraction until he was firm on addition facts (as suggested IN MUS) has served him well, so I'm going to overlap addition and subtraction somewhat going forward.    We do co-op once a week mainly for science and he loves it but he still has issues with consistently participating.  I'd like to get him back where he could attend our schools by 7th grade (because I love our Junior High, and I feel less confident on providing education at the upper levels).    I don't want to push too hard and undo the "love of learning" progress we've made, but neither to I want to set him up to once more be unprepared.  It's 4-5 years away (depending on whether I enter him at age level or a year behind) but it's still on my mind. 

 


Edited by goldenecho, 20 March 2017 - 07:04 PM.


#7 MomatHWTK

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 06:22 PM

I have a child who has no known LD but struggles mightily with math. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. In some instances, it is an LD; other times it may be the teaching approach. In still other instances it may be that not everyone can be at the top of the class in every subject. There's room for everyone in the world. : )


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#8 EKS

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 06:34 PM

Based on what you wrote, I think you definitely need to get an evaluation.


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#9 OhElizabeth

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 11:19 PM

It's easy to get really disconnected on where kids are at with your youngest kid. That happened a bit with my ds, because I didn't have someone coming up from behind to make me remember oh wow this is where he would be without disabilities. I just got used to his normal. And that CAN be really good! It has helped you stay really in sync with him, yes. But yeah, at this point it's time to get some evals and get some explanation. That's some pretty significant discrepancy.

 

 Whatever is going on, you're doing the right thing meeting him where he is.  :thumbup1:


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#10 OneStepAtATime

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 08:25 AM

Well, to be honest I think the reason you have that perception mentioned in your first post is because a significant number of us came to this board seeking answers after we couldn't find a way to help our kiddos.  From better answers here we DID go out and get evaluations and BINGO there WAS a reason our kiddos were struggling and now we have those answers. Now we continue to come here to tweak what to do with those answers.

 

If a child is just struggling a bit in a subject then yes that subject is probably not a strength for them.  Couple that with poor instruction of some kind and yes it can compound an issue.  However, kids that are really lagging behind, really struggling are very, very, very often actually struggling because they have underlying unremediated weaknesses and possibly strengths that are masking those weaknesses.  Many times those issues are diagnosable because we have come a long way in understanding how the human mind works.  (Although we definitely have a long way to go.)

 

I used to really resist the idea of a diagnosable condition in my kids.  My DH and my mom (a teacher for over 2 decades) were even more resistant.  I could kick myself now for not acknowledging the elephant in the room and getting evaluations.  It was a HUGE help in understanding my children, not just for helping with their weaker areas but also for tapping into strengths I didn't even know they had.  

 

My view these days is if you have concerns, those concerns don't really go away as you work to try and help the child, and you can swing the cost, then getting an evaluation for better answers seems the most logical way to go.  If there IS an underlying issue now you know and can address it.  If there ARE underlying untapped strengths now you know and can help your child tap into those strengths (which can be life changing).  If there are no underlying diagnosable issues then you have a better understanding of your child anyway and can move on from there.

 

Not everyone can afford evals, though.  If you can't, or you really are not wanting evaluations for whatever reason, then just putting that in the OP and asking for additional help with other ways to approach the issues usually nets some very useful responses.  There are a lot of people who have been through a lot with their kids and have a better grasp and better ideas than most professionals I have met over the years.  Frankly, some of the professionals I turned to for help were exceedingly clueless/ignorant/arrogant.  Thankfully not everyone but I really did find better answers here than in many places I sought help.


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#11 wapiti

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 09:07 AM

I don't think it makes sense to say there's no disability just because there's been no diagnosis.  (There can't be a diagnosis without evals.)  Moreover, FWIW, it is possible to have learning struggles that aren't the typical diagnoses.  That doesn't mean there isn't a problem, but that it may be tricker to figure out.

 

He still reverses b and d sometimes.  There was a few words that he's reversed (was he would always read as saw for a while, and two letter words he still occasionally reads backwards).  So, yes, I've considered Dyslexia and plan to get him tested this summer.

 

Along with eval for dyslexia and other learning issues, also have his vision checked by a developmental optometrist (COVD).  Some of the symptoms of dyslexia and developmental vision issues overlap and it's not unusual to have both.

 

(ETA, and of course, no need for an official disability/diagnosis to come ask for advice on this forum!  It's just so much easier to make suggestions when things have been ruled out.)


Edited by wapiti, 21 March 2017 - 09:09 AM.

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#12 maize

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 09:24 AM

Based on what you have written I think evaluations could be very helpful, preferably a full neuropsych eval. You are blaming yourself but there are multiple red flags in the information you have provided for something going on that is inhibiting your child's learning.

I know how you are feeling, I used to peek in at this board before we did evaluations with my kids but didn't really feel like I belonged. The information shared is definitely helpful with or without a diagnosis, but I believe that as a parent and an educator the more information I have the better. an evaluation will tell you a lot about strengths and weaknesses.
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#13 goldenecho

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 08:00 PM

Thank you everyone.  This strated out as one type of post and turned into another, and I'm glad.  I really needed and appreciate the feedback everyone has given. 


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#14 imagine.more

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Posted 21 March 2017 - 10:45 PM

I wouldn't beat yourself up for the supposed lack of diligence in those early years! Really, you were probably doing a lot more awesome stuff educationally than you even realize. And in my experience bright kids learn unless something is stopping them from learning. Now, none of what you describe is an external stoppage to learning. So maybe it's internal. But either way, please don't blame yourself! When my 8 year old was 2 I was pregnant and sick as can be. I lay on the couch and he watched Super Why with a cup of cheerios and a sippy cup of juice every morning until my poor husband came home. If I stood up I threw up, so I was supervising but certainly not reading him tons of stories or practicing colors like I wanted to be. But you know what? At 2.5 he asked to learn to read so I taught him (baby brother was born by then). He learned all his letters from goofing off watching Super Why on tv, lol! A parent's diligence on those little but important things may or may not affect age of reading/math skills by a year or two but it doesn't stop it or affect it in the long term. 

 

Anyway, if it were me I'd get an evaluation just to see if anything is up. Might be something simple like dyslexia, which is well-known, can be remediated, and has a standard list of accommodations for SATs and college later in life. Or maybe something else and it helps you understand how best to teach him, or to relax certain expectations. Or that he's a very intelligent boy who just is maturing on a different schedule from everyone else. 

 

Either way you're welcome here and you can totally glean some useful information. I think everyone starts from the basic point of "my kid seems to be struggling....what strategies and curriculums work for kids struggling with XYZ area of school" :) 


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