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LA recommendations, 3rd Grader; Dysgraphic & possibly dyslexic


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I was directed over here from the main curriculum board and was hoping I might get some help regarding a LA curriculum for my 8 yr old.


LA is the only subject we've never been able to "fit" and after some reading over the last few weeks we are starting to seriously suspect dyslexia. We'll be getting him evaluated in the coming months.


The biggest issue for ds is writing. I first learned of dysgraphia a few months ago and it was like reading a description of ds. For him the biggest issue is mostly the physical act of writing but he also has a hard time organizing his thoughts. This year he's starting to learn cursive and it's actually going very well - he says his hand/arm feels much better and I'm seeing a huge improvement in his willingness to write a sentence or two when needed.


What I'm looking for mainly is something for grammar, something for writing that is very gentle, and possibly something for reading comprehension/analysis although we do that somewhat on our own typically.


He reads well and enjoys it so at least there's no big issues there.


What we've tried in the past:


1st grade we tried Sing, Spell, Read, & Write which was a total disaster because it had way too much writing in it and since I was new to HSing I didn't have the confidence to adapt the program myself.


Then we tried Explode the Code online - at that time reading had not yet "clicked" for him and he quickly learned how to memorize the answers and pass even though he wasn't actually reading any of the sentences.


Last year, 2nd grade, we used k12 which was terribly boring and had soooo many worksheets it was insane. Most of them we did orally. It was OK but ds hated it, it took forever each day to complete, and it made him hate LA even more.


Now for 3rd grade: I excitedly bought MCT and it's been a huge fail. We both agree it's not working at all. It's hugely boring for him. His eyes glaze over as soon as we open the book. He told me today he prefers more of a workbook style than just reading stuff.


Ideas? I really don't know where to go from here but I want some curriculum we can use and actually stick with for the next several years. I hate this jumping around. Also I prefer secular material although some religious content is ok as long as it's not over the top. Oh and we're more eclectic HSers than classical so we're pretty open.

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Well back up here and remind me/us what you're wanting to accomplish? See, I don't think a lot of LA *curriculum* is important for this age. I think learning to read is important. I think knowing how to form letters (handwriting) is important. Everything else just is along the way, and all of it has a lot of ways to get there.


So I'm not clear.


1) can he read? any issues there you're still wanting to work on?


2) can he write without pain? Can he copy a sentence? Can he write a simple sentence from dictation?


3) can he formulate an oral narration? (ie. tell you about a book he read or a movie he watched or what he did with his friends)


Have you listened to SWB's talks on elementary and writing yet? People decry it for SN, but what she does really well is to remind you about foundations. If you jump ahead to structure and wanting paragraphs and this and that and you don't have a foundation (ability to write without pain, ability to get your thoughts out, etc.) then you're jumping to the end. In that case, like some others have said, the curriculum expectations are creating the disability. If you back up and look at WTM and the progression of writing skills, he might actually be ok or at a place where you can pick up and move forward.


My dd is not one to retain anything from worksheets. We used Shurley grammar because it had extremely short sections (3 sentences a day to parse, that's ALL). We read a lot. We did dictation from literature and from sentences in our spelling curriculum. We read a lot. Did I mention we read a lot. We did retellings from Aesops fables and used Writing Tales. He might find retelling Aesop's fables very enjoyable. They're short and have lots of room for creative changes. You can use them to apply your grammar. You don't really need curriculum, just lots of context and soemthing that engages him. If Pokemon cards engage him, then you make spurious Pokemon cards and make new characters. You just roll with it when you know what you're trying to accomplish. Grammar is the only place it's helpful to have a curriculum at this age, and Shurley, Winston, something just short and hands-on, interactive, that's where I'd go.

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So I'm not clear.


1) can he read? any issues there you're still wanting to work on?


2) can he write without pain? Can he copy a sentence? Can he write a simple sentence from dictation?


3) can he formulate an oral narration? (ie. tell you about a book he read or a movie he watched or what he did with his friends)



Yes he can read very well. It "clicked" for him just before the start of 2nd grade. He doesn't have the confidence to read at his level just yet so he still reads mostly books below his reading level. However we're reading Harry Potter right now as a read aloud and I've had some eye issues lately preventing me from being able to read much - he's read some of it on his own to himself and some of it he reads out loud to me and his comprehension is pretty spot on. He skips words, adds in small words, and also makes up words by just looking at the first & last letter (reading "world" as "would" for example. So that's an issue but that's something I feel comfortable working on with him on a day to day basis and I don't feel it's holding him back from doing anything harder, kwim?


As for writing without pain we're getting there. I don't mind writing out some stuff for him. He's also learning cursive this year and he says it's MUCH better than print. He actually did an entire row each of 6 different letters today as review without a single tear or any frustration AND he was proud of himself afterward. He told me his hand didn't hurt at all. We're working on his pencil grip at the same time & also not gripping the pencil so tight. He had an "ah ha" moment when I had him feel my arm as I held a pencil lightly and as I squeezed much too firmly as he always did so he could feel the difference in the way my arm muscles felt. Ever since he's been doing really well and we take a lot of breaks during any sort of writing.


I'm not much of a classical HSer (I get great ideas here though that I use often) so we haven't done copy work. He could do it though. He would hate it and it would be in tears the entire time though.


And while I also don't do narration I can definitely tell you the child can definitely tell me an entire story about something he read, a video game he's playing, etc. I don't think he's ever been quiet since he first started talking (finally at age 2.5).


Last year he seemed to have a hard time getting his thoughts on paper but in retrospect I'm believing it was from two issues: 1) his mind was working much faster than his hand could keep up with and 2) he hated writing so much that he only wrote the smallest shortest words/sentences he could and still get the answer right.


Basically what I'm really looking for is something for writing that is gentle and will teach him the process of writing step by step. I was actually just looking at Check the Deck and that might fit the bill.


The only part of MCT he enjoyed was taking apart the sentences and diagramming them. I've never diagrammed sentences before so in terms of grammar I need something that will hold MY hand because I'm learning it as well.


Vocabulary he's good on. His vocabulary is huge. Right now I'm happy with having him look up words he doesn't know and we also talk/learn about word roots as they come up.


Spelling has never been too big of an issue except mostly he would memorize the word and then not spell it correctly later on. However this year I'm using WRTR for spelling and he's enjoying it. Again, like with grammar, dissecting the word seems to interest him so he likes "taking it apart" to figure out each phonogram & spelling rule.

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We started hs'ing last year when she was in 3rd grade. We used Easy Grammar and that, IMHO, is a great grammar program for those who have dysgraphia. And you could stick with the program and it is secular. My dd had a very easy time using this.


We actually switched this year to doing Rod and Staff (highly religous) because I wanted something that has diagramming (which EG does not). So we're doing R&S mostly orally, and then using a white board for the diagramming and to do just a few sentences at a time.


When your dc gets a bit further in grammar, doing something like Editor in Chief may be helpful (just have them correct, not rewrite out all the sentences).


For the writing "process" we have been using IEW (this might be something for you to consider next year) with me acting as a scribe. We're also having our dd learn typing this year in 4th grade, hoping that will help out with school work.


Since your child is so young and reading is so fundamental to everything else, I would focus on that and getting a good program in place to make sure the reading gets to where it needs to be :) There are lots of reading programs out there depending on what your child's LD is or if your dc doesn't have an LD.


Best to you,


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Shelsi, in regard to his hand hurting when writing, this is an indication of a 'retained Palmar Reflex'?

At birth, hand and finger control is limited to a reflex action.

Where if you touch the palm of a babies hand, it will initiate a reflex action, that will cause a tight grip reflex response. Which is so tight, that most babies can be lifted in the air, and still hang on.

Where these Reflex actions, are the foundations upon gross and motor control are developed.

So that a baby doesn't begin with discovering it has arms and legs, and then trying to move them?

Rather, it happens in reverse?

Where it is born with a whole network of motor group reflexes.

So motor control begins with developing the ability to inhibit these reflex actions in each muscle group.

So that are no longer just working in an on/off process.

Where this initiates the development of receptors at both ends of every single muscle.

Where these Receptors learn to control the flexion/ extension of the muscle.

But a further crucial element, is that muscles have opposing muscles.

Which they need to develop the ability to work in unison with.

So that as one flexes, its partner needs to extend on the opposite side.

For example, if you bend your index finger, in and out?

This is being controlled by muscles connected to your elbow.

Where it doesn't simply use one muscle to bend it in, and the other to bend it out?

Rather, both work in unison, as one contracts and the other extends.

Where it is this unison control that is refined into fine motor control.

To understand this control, you might simply bring your thumb and any finger tip together, and then apart?

Then try to do it very slowly?

Where it is the 'doing it very slowly', that I would ask you to particularly observe?

Where in doing it very slowly, you might become aware of this flexor/extensor relationship?

How slowly can you bring your thumb and fingertip together?

Where it is not so much the flexion/ contraction of the muscles, but the controlled extension of the opposing the muscles, that slow down the action.

But you might consider the situation where these opposing muscles aren't working in unison?

So that as one set of muscles contracts, its opposite doesn't work in unison, and extend !~?

So that they battle against each other?

Where you might appreciate the pain that this would cause?

As it is difficult to understand how simply writing, could be painful?

Yet when their is an internal battle between opposing muscles that control the fingers, it is a bit easier to understand?

Though a simple exercise to overcome this battle between opposing muscles and develop coordinated control?

Simply involves practicing touching thumb to fingertip, going from finger to finger.

Going back and forth from finger to finger.

Then varying the speed at which it is done, and controlling the speed.

Which begins with doing it with one hand, and then other hand.

Followed by doing it with both hands, at the same time.

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