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Trouble integrating knowledge of phonics


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My dd 7 has struggled with reading from the very beginning. She now has an excellent knowledge of phonics (thanks to AAS and IEW's PAL) but she still really struggles with using her knowledge for reading (I'm guessing the problem lies in decoding but am not sure since she has the knowledge). I'm looking for resource suggestions both to educate myself on learning/reading challenges and to help her develop decoding skills. Also, at what point would you recommend having an evaluation done, and where do I turn for that. I'm not really wanting to go the public school route, but I also want to get her help if that's what she needs. Thanks so much!

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Get an evaluation through a neuropsychologist or education psychologist.  If you can't find one in your area with a good reputation (they are not all created equal :) ) then look at maybe getting a C.A.L.T. specialist that is trained in full evaluations (ask for their credentials, just CALT certification for tutoring won't cut it even if they say it will).  7 is not too young.  It is a good age.  And an evaluation should give you underlying strengths as well as weaknesses.  Hop over to the larger Learning Challenges board and read through past posts of others who did evals.  You might find some useful info.  Also, you might look at the following books and sites:


The Mislabeled Child by Brock and Fernette Eide

The Dyslexic Advantage by Brock and Fernette Eide

Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz

Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner by Kathy Kuhl


Barton Reading and Spelling website (There is a lot of free info here, you don't have to buy her system.  Also, there is a free student screening that doesn't take very long and may help you preliminarily identify if there are other issues that might be tripping her up.)


Hope that helps a bit...


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This is so helpful. Thank you! Looking at the Barton website, I am thinking she might have a mild form of dyslexia. I feel so silly for not putting the pieces together sooner. It makes sense though that I have naturally gravitated towards curriculum that are good for dyslexia. . .

I did a little research and it looks like an evaluation will cost over $2000. Ouch! Do I have any other options for evaluation? I am going to check those books out from the library - they look great!


Do children with dyslexia tend to have better success homeschooling? I am totally willing to do my part and educate myself on how to teach, but paying for years of expensive tutoring is out of the question.


Thanks again - I so appreciate this supportive community!

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O.k. if you have insurance you might check if they cover a neuropsych eval.  Don't mention dyslexia specifically.  Some will, some won't.  And prices may vary widely among the different practitioners.   If insurance won't cover it and you can't find someone cheaper, you might try looking into the public school system in your area.  This is tricky.  Some are great, some are o.k., and some have no clue and may point you in the wrong direction (ours did).  But if you have access to a good one, they should be able to help you out.  It may take a while, though.  Also, if you have a Scottish Rite in your area, they sometimes have low or no cost evals.  Universities sometimes do evals at a lower rate, but again the quality and depth will vary.


 A well-done, thorough evaluation can give you very specific areas of weakness to target, plus any areas of strength that the weaknesses may be masking and vice-a-versa, so getting a really good evaluation is worth its weight in gold.  Without it, you may be shooting blind and not make a lot of progress.  For instance, if your child does have dyslexia, but also has an auditory processing issue or low working memory, and you are unaware of these issues or how to deal with them, then you may struggle to help your child and assume that either the system you are using is flawed, you are incapable of teaching her or your child just isn't trying when none of those things may be true.


As for whether dyslexics tend to do better at home, well I would say almost always yes.  But not always.  If you are able to work patiently in a one on one setting and target the weak areas while supporting the strengths, then absolutely it is a much better scenario than most school settings.  But sometimes people don't really understand how hard a student is working because their effort may not show the results a parent is expecting.  And both parties may get frustrated, hurt, angry, depressed, etc.  The relationship can get damaged. 


For us, it was a HUGE help.  I was reteaching nearly all of my daughter's material to her after school because she just wasn't getting it in class...and she was falling behind.  But when she would come home and I had to reteach her she had already been working really, really hard all day long even though she wasn't actually learning much.  It is like running a 20 mile marathon, but only being allowed to run in place.  No one appreciates the effort because you didn't actually get anywhere, even though you were working just as hard, if not harder, than everyone else.  She would come home exhausted, demoralized, depressed and eventually somewhat defiant.   I started homeschooling for 6th grade with DD and middle of 2nd grade with DS.  They start while they are still fresh, alert and not hugely discouraged.   DD spent 7 years in brick and mortar and at the end of 5th grade she was still only just barely decoding 2nd grade level readers and still struggled with fluency at that level.  Once we actually started using a program that targeted her weaknesses and supported her strengths she went from barely decoding at a 2nd grade level to reading a 500 page novel in about 8 months.  Does she still have decoding and fluency issues?  Yes.  But not anything like before.  And we haven't finished remediation.  For the levels she has completed she is getting 100's on spelling and reading fluently at the remediation level she has completed.


We did try professional tutors.  Maybe we just hit some bad apples.  There are a lot of great tutors out there.  But even the dyslexia specialist we hired was a nightmare.  $800 later I had two kids who were even more convinced they were stupid and incapable.  I finally said enough is enough, did some research based on the evaluations and started tutoring them myself.  I keep sessions short, usually no more than 30 minutes, sometimes 20, and we do it every weekday, even through parts of the summer, so there is no momentum lost.  Once we got into a routine and they knew this was what we would do first thing in the morning, it smoothed out a lot.  Are there days we still have a lot of difficulty?  Yes.  And it can be discouraging to see them forget something we worked so hard on.  But if I slow down, do a bit of review, take the learning at the pace of the child, not some arbitrary time table, they always make it through, eventually retain everything well, and we move on to the next hurdle.  DS is struggling a bit more than DD, but he also has some other issues at play (dysgraphia, an issue with auditory processing, heterophoria, etc.).


Hope that helps some....

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