CM 4 Episode #17 Helping a Child with Dyslexia Through a Charlotte Mason Education with Guest Tammy Wagner

CM 4 Episode #17 Helping a Child with Dyslexia Through a Charlotte Mason Education with Guest Tammy Wagner

Links and Resources:

Show Notes:

Tammy has lived in seven states but almost always within an hour of one of the Great Lakes. She currently lives in Pennsylvania, a stone's throw from Lake Erie, where she is embracing life with her pastor-husband and their four children. Her children range from age 2 to 12. She has been incorporating Charlotte Mason methodology for 5 years now and using A Gentle Feast for 4 of those years. At least 2 of her children have the learning difference of Dyslexia. Once upon a time, she taught high school language arts, but Tammy currently works only very part-time from home as a writer, editor, and reading tutor.

Teaching From Rest: Sarah Mackenzie

Mere Motherhood: Cindy Rollins

Equipped for Reading Success by David Kilpatrick

Warning Signs for Dyslexia

100 Gentle Lessons in Manuscript Handwriting

100 Gentle Lessons in Sight and Sound

CM 3 Episode #19 Charlotte Mason and Dyslexic Students

Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie Audio

Charlotte Mason Homeschool Special Needs Consultations


Online Screener for Dyslexia


Barton Reading and Spelling Program (Start with the Student Screener and Tutor Screener)


Heart Word Magic

https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9jaGFybG90dGVtYXNvbnNob3cubGlic3luLmNvbS9yc3M/episode/MzFlNDg2MDItOTE1MS00OTAyLWFiNjAtZWYyZWU5MGUxYzEz?hl=en&ved=2ahUKEwivrqnFy6HvAhUqVTABHT2YDYgQjrkEegQIBBAF&ep=6

https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9jaGFybG90dGVtYXNvbnNob3cubGlic3luLmNvbS9yc3M/episode/ZTAxMmUwMzUtMGI3Ny00NjhmLWE0NmUtZGNlMDc2MjI2ZDM3?hl=en&ved=2ahUKEwj_uIbgy6HvAhUNTDABHU03BIYQjrkEegQIBBAF&ep=6

Show Transcript:

Julie –

Welcome to the Charlotte Mason Show, a podcast dedicated to discussing Miss Mason’s philosophy, principles, and methods. It is our hope that each episode will leave you inspired and offer practical wisdom on how to provide this rich living education in your modern home school. So, pull up a chair. We're glad you're here.

Today's episode of the Charlotte Mason Show was brought to you by Medi-Share. Find out more about this affordable Christian alternative to traditional health insurance at medishare.com.

Today I am parking with Tammy Lightner, and we're going to be exploring the topic of dyslexia in more detail. I previously recorded a podcast with Nicole Williams on this topic, and I recommend listening to that one as well. I'm really excited to have Tammy on because, after that initial episode, I received a lot of questions from people wanting more into how to potentially diagnose dyslexia, what are some more kinds of interventions that can be helpful for students with dyslexia. And I was really excited that Tammy was willing to come on.

Tammy is a Barton tutor, and she has extensive knowledge of this topic. Tammy has lived in seven states, but always within the hour of one of the Great Lakes. She currently lives in Erie, Pennsylvania, which is my hometown. So, shout out to all the Erie, Pennsylvania folks. She is currently raising her life with her pastor husband in their four children. Her children are ages two to twelve and she's been incorporating Charlotte Mason's methodology for five years. And two of her children have a learning difference of dyslexia. Once upon a time, she taught high school language arts, but she currently works part-time from home as a writer, editor, and reading tutor.

So, I really just appreciated the knowledge that Tammy brings, and I really feel like she's just going to really help those of you who might be wanting some more in-depth and practical help on this subject. So, let's join in with my conversation with Tammy.

Hey welcome, I'm here today with my friend Tammy Wagner. We're going to be talking about dyslexia today, so thanks for coming on Tammy.

Tammy -

Good to be here, Julie.

Julie -

So yeah, before we get started, can you give everyone just a little bit of background about you and kind of how you got interested in the topic of dyslexia and kind of what you're doing currently with that?

Tammy -

I mean so in what feels like another life I taught high school language arts so books, words, this is my world, and I am a mom of four. I have kids ranging from two to twelve. And my first child, I was just sure, was a credit to the literacy-rich home environment in which he was born...yes, yes, it was just so awesome that you know, he was begging to start reading when he was four. He'd literally jumped from three-letter words to chapter books within about a month at age five. And you know that was just exactly what I expected. I was pretty proud of myself. Actually, I was a little disappointed cause I had all these activities I was trying to do with him that he got past really quickly. So, I was kind of bummed there.

And then there was kid number two, and a totally different kid. I mean he was riding his bike at age four. ??? He is super helpful in the kitchen, can fix things. But didn't really care about words and letters and it was really hard. And so, we did the wait and see thing for a while, and a good friend whose daughter had dyslexia, I finally asked her. I was just like I really don't want to think about this. But do you think there's a possibility that he has dyslexia? And she read with him and noticed a few things and said, yeah, I think it's worth looking into. And so, I did and now he is, he's thriving in many areas of his education. He's not at grade level reading, but he's ten years old, and my seven-year-old daughter was also showing some signs and I just went on that assumption and I started working with her too, so, that got me interested in it, and because I'm a lifelong learner and there's mother culture, my mother culture has gone into this category.

And I have done part-time work doing website content work and some editing. Actually, worked with Julie on some projects with that for A Gentle Feast. But also, I lost a lot of that work because of covid and I thought maybe once my kids got older and I was doing a little bit more paid work I would do some tutoring of other kids and someday happened a little sooner. So, I have another student. I started doing some online screening and consultation with some parents and just hoping to help them not feel quite as lost as I did when I was new to this journey.

J -

Yeah. And I love that your heart for your kids drove you to become really passionate about this. I think that's one of the best things about homeschooling is, and it varies for different people, but they find one particular part of it that they just either comes out of a need that they need to meet for their own family and they are like, yeah, I can do that myself or they are really passionate about something that they start learning about in the feast and like well who knew? I love Shakespeare. Who knew I love nature study? And they want to share that gift and that knowledge with other homeschool moms. And that's I think what's made this homeschool community so wonderful and thriving, and I'm so thankful for that.

So yes, I'm super excited to talk. We get questions all the time about this. I think it's becoming more widely recognized. Dyslexia is. It was kind of something that, I mean it wasn't on my radar for a long time. I mean, I knew there was such a thing, but it was, especially in public education. In elementary, I had a major, but really focusing on things like learning disabilities and dyslexia kind of got lumped even when my, one of my kids was in school for one year that they didn't test for dyslexia. I believe they still don't. They'll test and say a child has a reading disability or something like that, but it's an unspecified reading disability.

T -

So, two things with that. This is my background. You know, I went to school for language arts education, which was high school. But yeah, it was, I had a general special needs class. It was actually like a two-week block class. So that was all. And dyslexia was mentioned but not much. So, I feel you there.

As far as awareness goes, one thing that is really confusing I think for parents looking into this at first right now is the DSM 5, which is the standard for how different disabilities and psychological issues are diagnosed does not use the term dyslexia anymore. So that term is kind of falling out of use, which is really unfortunate I think because if you're trying to look into this stuff, you want to use that term. So, they'll say specific learning disabilities in reading. Or specific learning disability in writing which is dysgraphia. A specific learning disability in math is dyscalculia. Now there is some carryover from dyslexia into learning math facts and other rote memorization so that can be a little confusing. And there's also a high degree of comorbidity among those three issues and other neurological issues and special needs so that can be really tough. There's a high overlap between speech issues and dyslexia because dyslexia is tied to auditory processing, phonological processing, which affects our speech too. So, my one daughter has speech issues. She also has dyslexia. It's kind of hard to know where one thing ends, the other begins. I've seen how speech therapy has helped her with her reading and how what we're doing with reading has helped her with speech. But they're muddy waters.

J -

Yes. They really are, and I think that's why it's hard for parents to go what am I actually dealing with here? Because I can read about all these different things, and yeah, that sounds right and that sounds right, and that sounds right. And or I just know there's something going on and that's how I wasn't my one daughter. She went to school for one year and like she never, it was first grade, and everyone had to read. They're like nothing is really wrong there. She's had some general reading disability that you know we can't provide her services for and I took her home and did first grade again and I'm like something's not right. There's something off and I don't know what it is you know, and it's like that mother's intuition sometimes when it's hard to like, and I just stressed. Am I putting too high of expectations? But I had had other kids like you were saying like I had other kids. But at this point, who did not have these issues, so I knew this wasn't like a normal thing for this age group or something like that. But it's also like, well, maybe she just develops at her own pace. I mean, we just need to wait and see like you were saying you know, and so they're I think parents get so stressed about it because it's so nebulous. What do you think about that?

T -

Yeah, I think it's the unknown, and depending on their personalities I mean yeah and/or the moods, right? We can do therapy like, okay, I don't know anything about this, so I'm going to research it to the nth degree and make it my obsession, which might be my tendency.

But also, for a while I didn't have the, I just, there was other life factors. I didn't have the energy to do that. And so, it was just la la la. I'm gonna pretend it's not there. This isn't helpful either and the research can be helpful, but we can be too obsessed with it too, which is, I think, where Charlotte Mason's principles really come into play. One other ??? compared to our other children, it is a genetic issue. So, there is a high likelihood if you have one dyslexic kid that you have more than one. There's actually a website and I'll send you the link for the show notes. Homeschooling Dyslexic Kids, I believe. She has seven dyslexic kids. Could you even imagine? She's a Charlotte Mason homeschooler, but she has a lot of good resources and tips and clearly, experience. That is amazing there.

So, because it is highly genetic, I mean, you could end up having, you know, one out of five kids also is dyslexic and it's far more common than most people realize. So, there is more of a chance, you know, that I'm going to have three out of my four. And there are parents listening that have no dyslexic kids, but one out of five. This is the most common learning. And that most common issue that's in place if kids are being exposed to reading and you know an intentional phonics-based, you know not the whole language stuff, which I know you've talked about in your, you know, general Charlotte Mason reading podcasts, which I highly recommend people listen to. But the whole language thing is so non-research-based at all right. But, yeah, if you're presenting your kids with this, they're in a literacy-rich home environment and they're really not reading at all at those ages.

But that's what public schools, in their defense, that's not all that they're dealing with. They're getting kids that maybe don't even have a book in the house. And so, to test a bunch of kids at first-grade age is like, well, they may have never seen a book. Or kindergarten age or whatever, so that's part of the reason they won't typically test until in our school district it's until second grade. But many, it's not until third, which is unfortunate cause by then they're usually really falling behind.

J -

Yeah, yeah, and that's a really good point. And I think too like, yeah, like you're saying, like if your child is raised in the literature-rich environment. If you have done phonics with them. For my child, who has dyslexia, it was able for her to progress. But at an extremely slow pace. So, the Charlotte Mason reading lessons were tremendously valuable for her. And then she just reached a point where she just kind of got stuck.

T -

She just kind of hit a wall because there are some foundations she didn't have. So, and you know you've mentioned the idea, and Charlie Mason doesn't use the term cause it wasn't around then, but she talks about phonemic awareness a lot, which is huge. So, there's this foundation that many of us naturally have, this phonemic awareness of sounds and how they work together. And someone with dyslexia is lacking that. And there's something it's, this isn't a technical term, but there's something called stealth dyslexia, and it...

J -

Wait, what? Can you...

T -

Stealth dyslexia.

J -

Okay. That's what I thought you said.

T -

So basically, there are some kids who have dyslexia and they basically kind of, they find careers to compensate. And they're not really reading their job, they're just memorizing and at some point, often by the upper elementary school and middle school, sometimes not even until, I actually listened to a podcast of a woman who until she was getting, she already was it physical doctor, a medical doctor, and until she was getting another advanced degree, she didn't realize she had dyslexia. Because she just, you don't know what's in anybody else's head. I know you've mentioned this with ADHD. You don't know how anybody else's head works so she's just thinking this is medical school. Of course, it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. She had no idea it was so much harder for her because of her dyslexia. But she was so highly intelligent, but she was compensating amazingly. And where dyslexia affects about 20% of the population, it's estimated and many go undiagnosed, so it's kind of hard to tell exactly. It actually affects a higher percentage of people with extremely high IQs.

J -

Yes. I can see and extremely creative people. The people I know who are dyslexic are extremely creative. They think outside the box and they think in a way that a lot of the population I feel like, does not.

T -

Yes. One way that I, my friend Laura, who first let me on to the idea that I probably, that's probably what I was dealing with my kids. She sent me this video that was just the greatest illustration to me that you're dealing with a shift, stick shift versus an automatic, okay? You could be the best teacher in the world, a driving instructor, which I'm sure I wouldn't be. But you can be the best instructor in the world. If you're teaching someone how to teach it, how to drive an automatic car, but they're driving a stick shift, they could be the best student, they can listen, they can follow everything you say. If your instructions are for an automatic, they're driving a stick shift. It's not gonna connect.

J -

Or they could try to drive, and it'll be like, uh, uh, uh. Like me when I first learn how to drive a stick shift. It was bad.

T -

And if your instructions were for somebody driving an automatic, and that would be great. But that's not what we're dealing with, and the irony is my, you know that dyslexics often, there's a stick shift about language, but often automatic about everything else. You know I tend to be automatic about language but stick shift about a whole lot of other things. I mean, I cannot cook without a recipe. So, you know. I cannot drive a car without a recipe. But you know I need details about steps for everything else, where they could see the big picture and figure stuff out very easily. It's a typical dyslexic strength which you know many famous people that have largely contributed. I mean, Einstein was probably dyslexic. Lots of really amazing people that have contributed in wonderful ways to our world.

J -

Yes, right, and my daughter, who has dyslexia has the biggest heart in the whole world. I mean, she just loves ??? Yeah. Right. Very empathetic and emotionally intuitive too, which has been really neat. And I think that's something to keep in mind too that we can try to, we can tend to focus sometimes too much on what their struggle is or trying to get a diagnosis that we miss appreciating them for you know the beautiful people that they are, and encouraging them and the things that they're really good at too so.

T -

Right. And we can fall into pitfalls on both sides, you know cause we don't want to not address those weaknesses, just like character weaknesses in our kids, right? We don't want to not address them, but we do want to emphasize and encourage their strengths too. And that's a hard, you know, a hard balance. I think a really great book on that is ??? She even talks about her own tendencies. If we tend to just be like, okay, we are going to be just perfectionistic about this school thing and overwork the kids. Or are we going to be more inclined like, eh, we'll just not do anything, you know? So, we need to know our tendencies so we can know which way we need to work and compensate. Not compensate, but you know, maybe get accountability and...

J -

For sure. So, let's say it's, a mom's working with her child. She knows something's off in terms of the reading, right? She, you know they're not four, so she's giving them enough time. She's been working on their curriculum, so it's not like she's not consistent, right? So, I mean, those are the first two things when people say, oh my child is struggling with reading. I'm like, okay, how old are they? A, give them time. You know it might not be till six and a half, seven. Often times I've seen. And then also it can be, are you consistently doing phonics with them? Oh no, not really, well, okay, well, let's start there, you know. But then if they're doing those two things and their child is... like what would they kind of want to look forward to knowing, okay, this might be worth looking into?

T -

There are so many different lists out there. I would back up for just a second from the phonics to the phonemic awareness. Which Charlotte Mason talks about. When they're hearing sounds, or breaking them out, and you can start working on that. It's, I think, one of the first things parents often do is they teach them the alphabet. They know the alphabet song. I don't know about you, but I thought for the longest time elemenopee was one letter. But...

J -

And it's not that they actually say any of those letters. It's like...

T -

Right. I'm not saying don't teach your kids the names of the alphabet letters, but the sounds are more important. So, you can play games with doing things like, even like I spy. Like we would often play I spy with colors, right? I spy with my little eye, something that is red. Well, instead of saying a color, which ironically, I do have a kid that's colorblind. Thankfully, he's not also dyslexic because that would complicate things even more. But, instead of saying something that is read, say something that starts with "err". You know, and maybe there's a stuffed rabbit across the room. Or maybe there's a Wren, as you're, now that, I know Wren doesn't start with an R, but you're not saying letters. You're not asking this spell these words, you're just saying it starts with that err sound. So, trying to get them to think through sounds.

And I know, so if they have trouble with that, that can be an issue. A lot of people think that if you're to the point of writing letters, often, directionality is going to be an issue, both with telling which letter it is and with writing it. And I love A Hundred Gentle Lessons that you've written, because you group the letters, not going in alphabetical order, which is kind of random, but by stroke. By beginning stroke. So that can really help with the directionality issue. But if you're, you know if you're like really, you know you haven't introduced all the letters at once, you've slowed down, and they're still, you know, I mean, after you've you know spent a lot of time on B, they still keep on thinking it says "duh". You know, and they're confusing those letters when you've got, when you have, like you said, spent the time, then you're probably going to want to look at some of these lists of other things. Left, right confusion can be another thing. Having trouble with rote memorization. All of those can be early indicators. And even though you're saying like until six to seven, I think the phonemic awareness, I mean Charlotte is encouraging starting that very young. And so, whether your child is dyslexic or not, doing those kinds of things in a play-based, gentle, non-pressurized way is going to be helpful.

J -

Yes. I, yeah, I 100% agree with that. Yeah, that phonemic awareness, you can start those at two in the bathtub you know.

T -

Which, ironically, my two-year-old, we started recently, we're relearning like the ASL alphabet because that's one of the tools that we use for memory work and stuff and I hadn't really thought of incorporating it with spelling, but it's tactile. So, we're watching the videos as part of our morning time and my two-year-old is like going, "A". And I'm like, okay, cool. So, yeah, like all the same things that work for other kids, but as far as noticing it, when you start noticing those things, okay, they have, or maybe they get all their letter sounds down and you start to go to blend them together and it's just like absolutely not happening. That's the phonemic awareness skill, and it seems to me in my mind, because I'm an automatic thinker with language that if you know those letters sounds, you should be able to blend them together. Like you just should. Cause that's my frame of reference, but these kids don't have that tool in their toolbox naturally as many others do, and so the idea of continuing to try to do the same lessons over and over. I think that would relate to Charlotte's, what's her word, stultifying the child. You know it's just going to frustrate them though. You know, if they don't have the tools in their toolbox, they're not going to have the tools in their toolbox again. Now I'm not saying do this for one day and then give up and, but not even, you know, giving up maybe isn't the right word, but still looking at the dyslexia lists and we can link with some of those in the show notes.

J -

Yeah yeah, that'd be great.

T -

So yeah, I think just being mindful of them. And I think that really, the sum of the Charlotte Mason principles that come into play here. The idea that they're born persons are so huge. It is so huge. They are each individual. If you have more than one child, you very much know that they are unique individuals and you know you really want to treat them as such. If something is frustrating to them and they're just not getting it, beating them over the head with it isn't going to help, and it's not going to help your relationship. It's not going to help their relationship to learning or to books, which is huge. Like if you feel like I don't even want to look into this right now. Even though in your gut you're saying there's an issue here. I'd maybe give yourself a month and then let yourself look at a few things. But I would rather take a break, and a month, not a year, than just push, push, push, push because you don't want them to have a combative relationship with learning, with reading, or with you. Charlotte Mason says on page 200 of the pink version of Home Education, there would be no little books entitled Reading Without Tears if tears were not sometimes shed over the reading lesson. But really, when that is the case, the fault rests with the teacher.

I would give a little caveat there. I think it often rests with the teacher because what happens is when they're not getting it, we get frustrated, right? And we get frustrated because we feel like we're failing, right? I must be doing something wrong. There's something wrong here. This makes me feel insecure and we need to take a step back from that and realize it's not about us. Dyslexia is, and many other learning challenges are genetic. Reading to your children more in your utero wouldn't have changed this situation.

J -

And I think a lot of times, too, even with homeschooling is like, well, I must be doing something wrong. I must not be reading correctly. So, I need to spend more money on something else or do it, you know, 54 other ways of researching this or do this because I'm the one that's messing this up.

T -

Or do it 50 times more intensely or for longer. Which again, a Charlotte Mason principle, to keep lessons short, especially for...

J -

We hate this. Why don't we do it twice as long? Yeah, that's a great strategy. It just, it's just making everyone miserable. And I will admit, I fell prey to that and it's one of the things I regret the most in my children's home education experience, is my daughter with dyslexia. We butted heads for a good solid year of kindergarten where I thought it was an attitude problem, quite honestly, because I didn't have this resistance with anybody else before she and I thought it was her. And it was. It was damaging our relationship, it was damaging her attitude towards school and I really had to step back and let it flow naturally. And you know, and she doesn't devour books like my other kids. I don't think she ever will, but she reads the books she has to read for school on grade level, you know. And she has learned coping mechanisms with writing and learning to, you know, voice to text and things like that. And you know loves expressing herself in writing. But you know, in that kind of creative way, and if it's something she knows that you know I can partner with her on and help her and it's not this condemnation of okay, well, all of these words are spelled wrong. Let's go...where she knows that I care about her voice more than all of that, but I'll help her with it, has really just helped our relationship so much and I'm so grateful for that because it really could have caused a lot of damage and I regret that a lot. If you listen to the episode on Nicole, I did with Nicole Williams on dyslexia, you know, we kind of talk about that as well. Kind of our, both of our experiences. And it's a very natural thing to do and so I just wanted to share my experience with people who might be like oh my goodness, I'm totally doing that to my child. It's okay. Give yourself grace right? But don't allow that to become a habit.

T -

Well, I think it was Tolkien that said education is repentance, right? So, we learn more and we grow and you know it's okay and I think it's even good to tell our kids you know what?

I didn't go about that the right way. Or I had a bad attitude. I wasn't being kind. I was not showing the fruit of the spirit. Will you forgive Mommy? And on the flip side of that though, you know, I'm not, I don't know about the exact situation with your daughter and her attitude, but the fact is, our kids are imperfect also. So, you know they may be, they may also be lazy. They may also have a bad attitude. So, it is hard sometimes to tell those issues. And, you know,

J -

A lot of prayers. A lot of prayer for the Holy Spirit to discern that, for sure.

T -

Definitely. And, you know we are more likely to have bad attitudes, aren't we all, when something is hard and frustrating to us? So like something we've started doing during reading lessons like you know, we started with them really short because that's all they could handle, but by the time we get out the manipulatives and things that we're using, it's just easier to do a longer lesson and there's enough variety back and forth where you are doing different types of things that it often works to do a 45 minute to hour-long session with us. Now that's just individual for my kids, and that's what works right for us right now. But when we're learning something very new, my daughter especially will get frustrated and if she starts having a meltdown, you know we need to switch gears or whatever, but we've been working on this. So, I'm like okay, if you start feeling like your brain is going to explode or you just can't do this today, we can just take some time because they need more time anyway to review former things using games. And she loves doing that. Her brain can be tired, and she can still review the things she already knew, and she enjoys doing the games that we do. So, but we've talked about okay, you can have self-control, and if you communicate to me like I'm not up for this right now, this is too hard. This is too much. Then we can do something different and then I need to honor that. I need to honor my word and not say, but I wanted to get through lesson seven this month. And that's the beauty of homeschooling is we're not trying to keep up with anybody right? Grade level distinctions are, you know, somewhat meaningless if we're playing this homeschool for the foreseeable future, we cannot let ourselves worry about that and just deal with our children as individuals and help them master it.

J -

Yeah, I think that slow and steady progress, especially with a child with dyslexia. Are we making progress? Yes. Okay, we're going to keep going, you know? And sometimes it's hard to see the fruit of that. And that's why it's really good to look back at, okay, what was her copy work like at the beginning of the year? What were their narrations like at the beginning of the year? What kind of books were they reading? Okay, now we're reading beads, you know? And just kind of appreciate that the progress is going to be slower for someone like this, you know, and not punish them for what you think they should be doing at this point.

T -

And it's going to be slow, but we still want to be consistent.

J -

Exactly. Right.

T -

Because that consistency is all the more important because you're actually, if you're using, like consistent methodology with them, that is structured, that is explicit. They are actually forming new neural pathways in their brains. They've actually, this is saying that Charlotte Mason would have never been able to see, but in her day. But there are MRI scans that actually show that a person with ??? the brain is structured differently the way it processes language. But then after the kind of remediation that's often recommended for those with dyslexia as Orton Gillingham methodology and after Orton Gillingham intervention, which you know you can see the changes in how the brain is structured.

So, dyslexia is a lifelong thing. It's not going away. But it can be remediated.

You did also mention that your daughter may never be the voracious reader that you are, and I feel like that's been a hard thing to just come to terms with. One of my children's areas of the deficit is called RAN. It stands for Rapid, Automatized Naming. And that's actually a deficit that can be seen even without letters. So, it's something that his brain just processes more slowly when he sees an image. You know it's not even tied to language specifically, but it's going to obviously influence that. So according to a lot of studies I've seen, you know that the deficit can't be fully remediated. Now, anecdotally, a lot of people have seen it come along when the final logical stuff and the phonemic awareness are instructed. But what that means is, you know, maybe eye reading is never going to be his preferred method of reading and learning. I can give him the tools so he can do it, but it may never be his best way to learn or to relax and that's okay, because that's how God made him, and that's something that needs to be okay with me, but that doesn't mean I have to say no to the rich books. I am so thankful that we live in a day with technology that allows for that.

And I know one thing you said you want to talk about is eye reading, ear reading, finger reading. And obviously, we think of finger reading, we think of Braille, right? If any of us had someone who was blind, we would not insist that that person was not reading unless they were using their eyes, would we? I mean that would just be so ridiculous and unfair. And we can think about that with accommodations even in our homeschool or in our classroom. If a child has a vision issue, now dyslexia is not a vision issue. Someone could have dyslexia as well as a vision issue, but...

J -

Yes, we discovered my daughter is farsighted. I would take her to the pediatrician, you know, and they always have her stand on the line and look at the eye chart and it was fine. And then she was telling me when we were reading that she was getting headaches and I was like, oh, okay. So, she has dyslexia and she's farsighted. So now she needs glasses to read.

T -

So yeah, like even those issues could be confusing, for, you know, which is which, right? So, but if it's somebody like, could you imagine, then you know in a classroom, would any teacher tell her, well, you know what? I just don't want the, I just don't think it's fair for you to wear glasses if nobody else in the class is wearing glasses, right? That's just not fair, and that's what accommodations do. They don't, you know, a proper accommodation is not going to take away the work from your kid. It's going to give them a chance at success.

J -

Yes, yes I love that. That's so good.

T -

There's a quote here from page 227 of Home Education, the most common and monstrous defect in the education of the day, of course, this is Charlotte Mason's day, is that children fail to acquire the habit of reading. Knowledge is conveyed to them by lessons and talk, but the studious habit of using books as a means of interest and delight is not acquired. This habit should be begun early, so as soon as a child can read at all he should read for himself and for himself. History, legends, fairy tales, and other suitable matters. Now, clearly, she's talking about eye reading here because ear reading wasn't really a thing unless somebody was reading aloud to you, right? They didn't have the technology that we have. So, I like to think of the accommodations that we do for dyslexia and the intensive remediation not as opposed to her principles, but as an extension of them for specific individuals.

J -

I agree on that, yeah.

T -

So, we very regularly use the term ‘ear reading’ in our home. We do not say that we listen to audiobooks because that seems to take away from the hard work that reading actually is. If you, listening intently is too. I'm not saying listening is bad. But to say I listen to an audiobook or to say oh well, did you read it, or did you listen to it? It sounds kind of demeaning, right?

J -

Yeah, yeah. That's a very good point, yeah.

T -

So, we really elevate that, and in my ideal world, which is not reality, it sounds so nice, doesn't it, though? To have all our kids to surround us and we're reading aloud to them as if our voices don't get tired.

J -

That was how homeschooling was gonna be right? I was gonna be like the Ma on Little Women, and they were all going to sit around, and we would just read.

T -

And they would be fawning over your every word and your voice would never get tired for sure of course.

J -

Of course, I do right to my kids before they go to bed. I don't know why I thought this is a great idea to start with at the beginning of 2020 with Harry Potter, reading it to my son. We are now on the last book. I'm like, is this is ever gonna end, like my voice so tired and everybody's like oh but the narrative for the audiobooks is fantastic. They're free on Spotify. I'm like oh no. He will not let me. He likes listening to my voice and I keep telling him the narrator does a much better Hagrid impersonation than I do. Like, why can't we listen to this guy? Cause like, well I just like the sound of your voice mom. Yeah, it would be beautiful if I could just read all day long, but that's not reality.

T -

And that's beautiful and it can be such a great part of our relationship with our kids.

But what she's saying here is that that's actually not the ideal. Not that it's, not that I'm saying your reading to your son is not ideal, but that we were doing that for all of our subjects. She's saying that that's not the ideal cause they wanted, they need to learn to do that for themselves. And the way that we have done that, like starting and I hate to say grade levels because every child is an individual, right? But around fourth grade age or form two, year one, I like to try to start transitioning them to greater independence because, as Charlotte Mason says, self-education is the only real education anyway, right? And they need to start learning to take responsibility.

And the other thing is I can't figure out a way to read all the form one books, all the form two books, even though A Gentle Feast is what we use and it's, they're grouped in forms and you know have any energy for my two-year-old, so some of it is practical. But it, you know I can beat myself up over that, like oh, you know, why can't I just find the time to read all this? Well actually they need to own their education, right?

J -

I agree with you, yeah.

T -

So, ear reading gives a great opportunity for that. And there are some different avenues available for those with dyslexia or those who are blind. Those are both considered print disabilities. Learning Ally is one. I did find a lot of form one, A Gentle Feast books available on Learning Ally. You do have to show proof of disability. It does not have to be a formal diagnosis though. It could, if you use it, there's a screener. I'll mention a little bit more about it. Neural Learning App is a screener. If you use Barton reading, which is the program that we're using at home for Orton Gillingham remediation and the people that had those up can give you, vouch for you with Learning Ally Book Share is the one that's free. Learning Ally, you have to prove your disability and you do have to pay for it. And the price goes up and down, but it's somewhere around a hundred dollars, usually per year.

Personally, because we use living books and those that use textbooks, it's a lot harder to find, you know, the audio versions of them, but because we use living books, we can find so many other avenues of audiobooks and often the dramatization, like you're saying, the narrators are awesome. So, you have to fish around and you have to look for deals and all of that. But I find...

J -

You have to do that for the print book too.

T -

Oh, yeah. So, if that's already like, yeah, I'm in the zone. So, our favorites, and just for simplicity sake, if I can find a good deal on an audible Kindle book Kindle hybrid with whispersync, it'll do similar to what Learning Ally does, where it will highlight the text so you can be eye reading it as your ear reading it.

J -

Yes. I love that approach cause I think that really helps them with their spelling too is seeing the words as they hear them.

T -

Well, that's part of the orthographic mapping process. And even if our kids are, when they're ear reading a lot. I mean my kids that are not reading, eye reading, at nearly grade level, have awesome oral vocabularies because of the living books. And then something that I've heard from a lot of Orton Gillingham tutors is that as they're going through different word lists, the kids that have never heard of those words. And so, they're trying to you know, and there there is some value with phonemic awareness skills to nonsense words, but to figure out if they're understanding the letter sounds and stuff. But when you're looking at a real word and you're trying to sound it out using these different patterns and skills you've learned, but you've never actually heard that word before, it's a lot harder.

J -

Oh yeah, I mean trying to read like a physics textbook. I could probably try to sound it out phonetically, but I got no clue what they're talking about.

T -

Exactly. It's not meant for you either. I mean, if you were interested in physics, I, yeah, I'm assuming you're not that interested, right? So yeah, if they've already heard this word and then they're seeing it, it's really the combination that's going to help map it. Now for that term orthographic mapping, if you want to add to your mother culture something about the science reading, a huge name in the science of Reading is an educational psychologist named David Kilpatrick. By the way, this is one of the very few books I know this is true about. It is cheaper from his website than from Amazon. But he really breaks down like how our brains learn to read. Whether a person is dyslexic or not, our brains learn to read in the same basic way, and it involves phonemics awareness and involves orthographic mapping because, as Charlotte points out, our language, you know well, it's borrowed from so many other languages. Our spelling, you know L-U-V makes a whole lot more sense to spell love than L-O-V-E does. So, we have to learn a lot of those words by sight. However, it's not, love is not spelled QRZK, right? I mean, there are some sounds that are exactly spelled exactly as we would expect. So, we emphasize those kinds of things.

The reason that a lot of us like to learn to read using the simplicity and the by the way method that she talks about is that a typical person can orthographically map words in three or four exposures to the word.

J -

What do you mean by, can you define orthographically?

T -

Orthographic mapping is the process by which a word that we see becomes recognizable. Like you said...

J -

It's like learning by sight.

T -

Yes. But it's a little different than our visual memory of an image. In fact, it's interesting because those who don't believe God created us would say that the part of our brains that's used to read was, had other evolutionary purposes and we're just repurposing it and that's why it's so hard. But for those of us that know that God created us, it's not surprising at all that if I, as a fluent reader, see the word monster versus a picture of a monster, I actually recognize that word faster than the image. So, it's not exactly an image-based thing and you can see that when you realize that if you know a word if you see it in a different font, if you see it in all caps, like in a comic book, or if you see it in handwriting, as long as that handwriting is legible, you recognize that word. So, it's not exactly a visual image. It's a little bit different of a process.

But when we, you know we can pick up a physics textbook and try to sound out a word that's unfamiliar, but when we're reading typical texts, we're not sounding that out the whole time. We're recognizing those familiar words like that.

J -

Well then, Charlotte Mason talked about kind of like the words in her site lessons, I mean in her sound lessons that were similar, right? If you know rough then you know, tough. You know to kind of, so you can look for similarities too and find those like words within the words.

T -

Right. But then with someone who has dyslexia, and a lot of people don't realize there's a spectrum. Okay, so there those that have mild dyslexia to moderate, to severe, to profound. And then there are the different areas of deficit. So, each person is unique and you can't exactly paint with a broad brush here. But I found anecdotally that you know one of my kids who does not have dyslexia, will orthographically, not words, and you know, three to four times his average. I'd say he's like two to three times. Like he orthographically knocks them like right out. And I have another kid that seriously it could take up to a hundred times and I'm not talking about a long word.

So that is where spelling rules and there are, you know, a lot of the spelling rules we had in school. There are so many exceptions to them they're not even useful. But in Orton Gillingham methodology that has carefully crafted spelling rules, you know you're getting the keys to unlock a hundred doors and because even that one key is hard to get down.

The amount of time it would take to actually practice with all hundred doors, it's not reasonable, you know? So, just like the reason that we tend to prefer eye reading, most of us, if we have good vision and if we don't have a print disability, it's because it's more efficient. We can eye read faster than we can ear read. So, for someone that the other is more efficient, you know we need to consider that.

J -

Yeah, but I think it's a very good point and I say this to parents too that if they're going to listen to it, if you can have them follow along, that is ideal. Or I should say, listen. If they're ear reading it, they should also be eye reading it as well.

Today's episode is brought to you by A Gentle Feast. A Gentle Feast is a complete curriculum for grades one through twelve that is family-centered, inspired by Miss Mason's programs and philosophy, and rooted in books, beauty, and Biblical Truth. You can find out how smooth and easy days are closer than you think at agentlefeast.com.

So, you mentioned the audible and Kindle with Whispersync and the Learning Ally do that.

Are there any other ones like that? Or just give them a printed copy of the book with a Librivox recording or something like that?

T -

Depending, and there are times that I can't find an audible version that's like less than ten dollars, and I just, I'm not going to spend it and I'll find it through Librivox or through Hoopla if your library does Hoopla. And you can, so many of these classic books that we use in our Charlotte Mason education, we can get so inexpensively on Kindle, so they can do that. But if they're not to the level of doing that yet that they're just going to be trying so hard to follow along, they might not be ready...

J -

Yeah, that's basically older middle school, but I would say yeah.

T -

And it really just depends on where they're at on their reading level. Even more, even more than age two. But because you know the relationship we want them to have books right? And the whole reason we use living books. We want it to be engaging to them. There are times that I'll switch out a book, which I love how simple it is to do that with A Gentle Feast because I can't find a good...

J -

Audiobook?

T -

...audio version of it. And sometimes you know Librivox, you know it's ??? and sometimes I wouldn't want to listen to this. I could not make myself pay attention for ten minutes and follow along. Well, if I feel that way, well by all means my ten-year-old, I'm not going to expect that. You know, so sometimes I'll switch books out for that reason if I can't find good audio.

J -

Yeah yeah, and making that work for your kids that's so important. Okay, so we talked about, okay, here are some of the things that we might want to consider warning signs. You mentioned some of the screening processes. Is there anything else you want to say about the screening process before I go move into a kind of some of the remediation?

T -

Yes. Okay, so screening is not a formal evaluation diagnosis. Dyslexia's really weird and that it falls, depending on the state you're in and the school district and your insurance, it could be considered a medical issue and you could have testing covered under medical insurance. Or it could fall under education and depending on your homeschool laws in your school district, it's really that the whole formal evaluation diagnosis thing I would wait on unless you specifically know of a way you can do it or you're independently wealthy. You know have at it. But for the rest of us, screening is just going to be way simpler. No learning app. The price can vary, just like so many apps and online things, but you know you're talking between ten and fifty dollars to do this thing.

J -

That's much more reasonable than a psychiatrist, so yes.

T -

And I've talked to many experienced dyslexia tutors and I can now anecdotally say myself that I have tested a kid that has also gotten a formal evaluation and the results were spot on. So, it doesn't count as a formal diagnosis or evaluation that would give you accommodations on tests, required testing you might have in your state, or if your kids go into a school setting. But as a homeschool parent, you get to create an IEP for each of your kids anyway, right? So, you don't need a diagnosis. So, table that. Screening is different. It is way easier. There are some other screening resources. There's one free on the Barton Reading website that screens for phonemic awareness cause some kids aren't even ready for an Orton Gillingham reading. They need those phonemic awareness skills higher and again it has nothing to do with IQ or intelligence. It's just a degree of dyslexia.

So, there's actually another program that you might need before you even start those reading programs or tutoring or whatever you are going to do. So, yes, screening can be simple and can be inexpensive. I offer some screening and so do other dyslexia tutors for a hundred or less. You could do some screening and get an idea of where to go, whether you're going to, you know, whether you're in a place to hire a tutor or do stuff yourself. At least it would give you the peace of mind to say, okay, I'm not crazy. Okay, we're dealing with an issue here.

J -

Yeah, it's super helpful to kind of know where you're headed and what am I doing. It's just peace of, a lot of it for me was peace of mind.

T -

So, we actually, I didn't know about any screeners before we started remediation and I was advised to just, if I was going to put time and money into something, put it into remediation, not into testing. When we were thinking we were going to have thousands of dollars because that's not anything in my world. So, we started remediation and the other thing I would say to a parent that's looking at, yeah, I think my kid might have dyslexia is to educate yourself. You know, that's again where Charlotte Mason, her principles are holistic, right? They've influenced my life. I'm glad my kids have given me the opportunity to learn about it because it's influenced my life and my mother culture and I would often look at a big book like on something that's going to be hard to read, like this and it would just be daunting cause I just look at this big book that doesn't look fun. And I could break down and schedule it out for myself and you just, as a parent, you know whether or not you wanted this on your table, it's there. If it's there, you need to own it and educate yourself. But yeah, the screening can be pretty painless financially and timewise.

J -

Okay, so if they want to do the screening, they can. If they just want to jump into remediation or if they have had the screening and they're like okay, this is what we're most likely dealing with. Let's go into remediation. Where do you have them start for that?

T -

So, I would start to know the degree of remediation, there's a screener on the Barton site and it's free to use. You would have to use a tutor screener first to be able to tell if you are hearing the sounds correctly enough to give the student screener to your kid. But it's a pretty simple process and it's basically helping determine where they're at with phonemic awareness. So, it's not going to tell you dyslexia or no, but if you do the neural learning app and you have reason to suspect that, I would go to the Barton Screener, especially cause it's, you know, our favorite price, free, right?

So anecdotally, about 30% of kids being tutored need the foundational program, either lip through Linda Moon Bell, or foundation and sounds first to really give a solid foundation of phonemic awareness. If you've already been working on that stuff, you know that maybe it's remediated. Maybe it has already been remediated, but if it isn't, don't feel bad. It just means that it's a more difficult area.

So, I would start with that and then the keywords you want to look for in a program is Orton Gillingham. What that means is it's multi-sensory and structured. Someone who has been Orton Gillingham trained is going to tailor-make a curriculum basically for your child if you were to hire them. The price points on that vary and there, it's pricey. It's typically fifty to, I've seen a hundred twenty dollars an hour and it's highly recommended that they get at least two hours a week. So that isn't, if that's an option for you, great. If it isn't, the reason I chose the Barton reading program is, from my research, it is the most thorough Orton Gillingham program that's accessible to me as a homeschool parent that does not have time to go get a new degree. And it includes video training and it's fully scripted.

J -

Okay, so that's for you to use with your child?

T -

Yes. There are many people that tutor with it also. And but it is accessible to a homeschool parent to use at home as long as they could pass that tutor screening so they're hearing sounds correctly. So yes, you can use it. It is like open and go. It's not exactly cause you do need to watch the training videos, but after that, you can do it and there's a Facebook group that people are very supportive and helpful. When I was doing my research to figure out what to try, there were many programs that came up and mentioned that their Orton Gillingham influenced. I would say your hundred lessons in sight and sound is Orton Gillingham influenced. I mean you're using the tiles, you're using the multi-sensory, it's just not quite as intense.

J -

It's not complete. Right.

T -

It's not as intense as a kid with dyslexia is typically going to need. And with mild dyslexia, it might be able to get, to benefit from all about reading, which Orton Gillingham influenced. But I read so many reviews from dyslexic parents saying I started with that. It's less expensive than Barton, so clearly appeals. But I read so many people saying we started with that, but it wasn't enough. We had to go back to Barton.

J -

And it was like what happened with my daughter. Like, A Hundred Gentle Lessons was great with my other kids. And it was good for her to a point. Like she was reading, you know? When we finished through it, but then she just stopped progressing. She needed more foundation than that provided because of her dyslexia. But I didn't realize it until she was like second or third grade and still reading, you know, kind of second-grade chapter books and not moving forward. Yeah.

T -

And it was more frustrating to her cause she didn't have that foundation provided and you didn't know that then. But if you go back I'm sure you wouldn't say, I would have started the same way. So that's what I was seeing so many parents saying like I started with this and then it, you know, it's like a swing and a miss. You already have something that's hard for a kid. Like I was like, okay, I'm just going to start with what everybody is saying. Well, I ended up having to go to this. And it is pricey. But you can buy it and then you can sell the levels and get almost all your money back.

J -

And it is cheaper than a tutor. And I think that's the key. It's like I came to the point with her where I realized, it was beyond my expertise to provide her the remediation that she needed. I, unlike you, am not able, I do not have the time to go watch tutoring videos and figure out how I'm supposed to tutor her in this. Like I'm at the point where I'm like, okay, well I have to work so I have to pay a tutor to do this, but I can't be doing it myself anymore. We have reached the point where it's beyond my ability to give her the remediation that she needs.

T -

Right, and both of those are are good choices and you're still providing for your child and life is so seasonal, right? There's times where our time and energy is just more valuable and we can't afford to, you know, take more of that and there are times where we just don't have the funds to do that. To hire a tutor. And then...

J -

Or have one available.

T -

...like me, that realizes that you actually enjoy it and you're kind of driving learning more about the science of reading. The biggest complaint I've seen about Barton, even though it is totally accessible for a homeschool parent typically to use, is that it was created originally for adults with dyslexia. It does not have bells and whistles. And the positive end makes it great for older kids cause they're not being insulted. On the negative end for our younger kids it can seem boring, but as a Charlotte Mason educated kid is really primed for this because they are learning to strengthen their wills and to focus, but we also don't want to lead to tears. So, we, it's very easy to add games and you know other things in the Facebook groups, people are very generous about sharing. There are these amazing decodable adventure readers that sound like the Charlotte Mason Homeschool kids out on adventures that one of the tutors has created. And there's just all these resources that can help compliment it. And on my Facebook page, I'm sharing things that complement it for other Barton tutors or parents using it at home or whatever. So yeah, you, it's not okay, just use something that's not designed for dyslexics or you have to pay at least a hundred dollars a week.

J -

Right. Yeah, yeah, and yeah, I was very thankful that I was able to find a tutor. A, cause those can be in high demand. But then one that I was able to afford, and you know she only did it for a year and she's been fine. Like I mean it got her back up to the point where she, you know is on grade level or a little bit more advanced, you know? So, it's not you're only spending...I mean, depending on, like you're saying, the spectrum, a hundred dollars forever. A week or more forever, you know, and giving me the tools for things I can do at home with her too. So, I think that's the key, but it's finding, okay, I think there's a problem. I think this may be it. Am I doing some kind of screening? Yes, I'm on the right track. Okay, so then deciding what are some of the best options for where your family's at and what kind of interventions your kid needs.

T -

Right, and I mean I've always had to work part-time from home to afford my homeschool habit. So, you know, that's something that I have just shared a bunch of ideas with a friend too, of even you know non-sales, low commitment things you can do flexibly from home.

And if I hadn't been doing that before this dyslexia journey, I definitely would have had to start doing that now even to afford the resources that we are doing at home because they are more expensive. But because we value books. Because we value reading. Because we value learning, you know this is a life skill our kids need ???

J -

If I could just wave a magic wand and then this wouldn't be a problem anymore, or I could just go, you know, spend fifty bucks and buy this curriculum and do this and it would solve the problem like that would be fantastic. But this is one of those things where it is a big investment either of time, money, resources, emotions, right? To work with your child to help them you know. And we like you're saying, it's not, there are so many accommodations.

There are so many wonderful things out there because of modern technology that we have at our fingertips now, which means they're going to be really set up for success even with this diagnosis, and be the person that you know that God created them to be and all the other amazing things that they have. But it is, it's not an easy thing to just, oh this will be solved in a couple of weeks.

T -

Well, in Cindy Rawlings book, Mere Motherhood, she talks about, she had like ten kids, eight kids. A lot of kids. I don't know that any of them had dyslexia, but she talks about reading lessons, being, you know, they forget from day to day the sounds or whatever.

And she's like and when I could respond to that without anger or frustration, I knew that this was part of my sanctification. Well, God has decided that dyslexia is part of not only my children's sanctification but mine. And honestly, I think that the perseverance tools that they're learning might even be more significant than reading.

J -

I agree with you.

T -

Because they're learning to do hard things. And I mean half of the sharks on Shark Tank are dyslexic, and they've credited it for their success. Because as I said I learned to think outside the box, and I learned to not quit when other people were ready to quit. And they've seen how that has allowed them to be successful. So, it's not just, it isn't a difficulty. And I, I feel like, you know, people debate about learning differences or learning disabilities and you know, we don't want to say our kids are broken or this isn't just something to fix. It's something that needs to be remediated, we need to work with them on, but it is also something that comes with a lot of really wonderful strengths and that God's going to use in their lives and He's using in our lives. You know, cause He's just awesome enough to do that with anything.

J -

Yes, yes for sure. I think we have to approach it like that and see the blessings in it for sure and to help our students see the blessings in it because it is a hard journey for them as well. And they are like you're saying, like it's, their brains are physically wired differently. And to read, praise Jesus, we have neuroplasticity, right? And we are able to reprogram our minds. But like it is a lot of work and it is exhausting and showing them, you know that kindness and that grace and talking it through with them. But I also feel like, as a parent, it's kind of sobering to go, this is the work that we've been called to do, and it does take a certain level of commitment at the same time.

T -

Yes, it does. Yes, it does. And I wanted to share actually from our morning time this week I read this verse in Genesis. It's about Hagar and it's just one of my favorite names of God, and I just feel like for those of us with just parenting in general, homeschooling, in general, is hard, but we can feel unseen. But especially when we have a child with a learning challenge, this can come up. And in Genesis sixteen, the Angel is speaking to Hagar, who has, you know, basically, been rejected. She's in a hard place. She doesn't know how she's going to support herself, how she's going to do what she needs to do. She's a, you know, unwed mother, and I'm trying to find the verse right here. But the Angel ends up telling her that basically, God is going to provide for her, and God has listened to her affliction and, oh, so she called the Name of the Lord, of the Lord he spoke to her, You are a God of seeing, for she said, truly here have I, here I had seen Him who looks after me. And just to realize God, you know, God sees us. And then in this, we can see Him in amazing and unique ways. And to realize this isn't, maybe it wasn't in our plan. Maybe it's something we would never run into our stories.

But He can use it. You know, in a small way He's used it like with our family financially in the last year. He knew covid was coming. He knew I would lose my other writing work and He knew I would really enjoy teaching and kind of having an excuse to even research this further. And He does that kind of thing.

I did want to mention in the area of screenings and such because there were some questions on the AGF page when it was posted about this coming up in questions people had, somebody asked about if kids are listening to you know books and they're having a hard time giving narrations or you know, it seems like their memory, it's a working memory issue that can come with dyslexia. It can also be a sign of another learning disability. I'm not equipped to talk about that, but Amy Babkin, through Charlotte Mason plenary, actually does special needs consultations. She told me that she actually has talked to many AGF families, that she gives a lot of suggestions on accommodations and can give you an idea if you're noticing something that's outside the realm of dyslexia, which I'm giving you suggestions for. She can help you with everything. She's actually an autistic adult. She has kids with dyslexia and hyperlexia and all kinds of things. And she is a Charlotte Mason gal, and she has a background as an educational psychologist. So that's something that we can put into the show notes too.

J -

Yes, we can put those in the show notes, too. That would be fantastic, yeah. Yeah, I think that's a really good point. I'm actually, I'm trying to think if your episode airs, I think your episode airs before this one, but I just recorded an episode earlier today with Cindy West and we were talking about brain training. And one of the things she was talking about was on these executive functioning skills, which working memory is a part of. And I do notice that with my dyslexic child. Her working memory is a struggle compared to my other children for sure.

T -

And it's important to realize that's not going to make them all of a sudden learn how to read, but it's the other side of a, you know you have to deal with both, which I haven't started looking into.

J -

But yeah, one of the things I talk about in Gentle Feast and Cindy and I were talking about this in the episode was you know, you just divide a piece of paper. Beginning, middle, and end. If you want to get fancy you can get little comic book paper, but having drawn little stick figures or something as you're reading or as they're listening, so they can go back and go, this was what happened at the beginning cause the working memory, by that point, they get to the end of the chapter, they forget what happened at the beginning, but then they can go back and look at the picture, and be like oh yeah, there was this, you know. And I think that really helps with narration. With my one job with dyslexia, there were no narrations until I started doing the drawings and now you know she did it for about three years and now she doesn't need it, for the past three or four years.

T -

And they're all individuals cause my dyslexic kiddo, you know I have two in form two right now, one that's dyslexic and one isn't, and you know, my dyslexic kiddo is younger, but he's actually the better narrator. You know, he just, he gives, he's a great storyteller. He's a great narrator and his, you know, he's clearly an auditory learner, which is great. I'm so thankful for that. I mean, you're mentioning the stick figures and stuff too. I think so many people end up thinking like Charlotte Mason is just like books. And it's easy to leave out physical components. And no, we're not creating all these things for them. We want them to be invested in their own education. But we're not opposed to multi-sensory stuff.

J -

No no, we all multi-sensory over here.

T -

We use tons of multi-sensory stuff with morning time you know. And we, you know we use hand motions to memorize verses. I mentioned we were, you know, relearning the ASL alphabet to cue us off to that. I don't think for copyright I could show this, but one of the hymns we switched in the last term is one we sing a lot of our church, Called by Faith by Keith and Kristyn Getty, and every, like I color-coded it, and sometimes I'll have my kids go through and color code their poems, blending out the similar sounds, whether it's alliteration or whining. And then we can visually see the rhyme patterns. We do this with sonnets. I'm a total nerd. I told you that. You know.

J -

I think that's great to find those word patterns, cause the rhyming really is also part of the phonemic awareness which we didn't talk about.

T -

Yeah, it's going to help them with their reading and thinking, but it's going to help them learn it cause ??? to learn and recite, right? So, we used all that multi-sensory stuff and we didn't really get to talk about spelling a whole lot.

J -

I was just gonna ask you about that. You're reading my mind, Tammy, cause we talked about reading a lot, but I'm like oh with dyslexia that spelling, woo, it's tough.

T -

Reading, some kids, especially like self-dyslexia or really mild dyslexia, might really not notice issues with reading, even if there are underlying phonemic awareness issues, but that's really going to come out with spelling, and spelling is not just based on phonics, right? People that say that you know that they don't need to learn sight words. It's like do you know our language? There are so many words that don't follow the rules. It really stinks. In fact, you know readers in other languages don't notice as significant of issues as English readers with dyslexia. So, spelling takes a lot more. One of the links in the show notes is to heart word magic. It is a free website, and it has videos and it has some scripts to give you an idea of how to do other words. But the idea is for, they call, you know, heart words is a general term using for sight words meaning words that are really common we want to learn by sight. But tricky heart words. They're talking about ones that, you know have a part. It's usually just one part you have to learn by heart. Isn't it cute how that rhymes?

J -

Oh, that is so cute. That's a rhyme.

T -

So, we start with our phonemic awareness and phonological skills. You know this. What's the first sound you hear? What makes... If they know their digraph TH, they know that's going to make the... Well then, we have, ah. We would expect that to be a U, except that at the ends of words U doesn't say ah. It's a weird one, right? But it is a vowel, so it's not a totally out-there thing.

J -

And it gives thee and thy and words we don't say anymore. Yeah.

T -

Right. So, we have one part we need to learn by heart. So, we're going to do a little word study. We're going to look at that. If there's a heart word magic video, we'll watch that and then we'll write out on a card, the word, and that tricky word letter. One, sometimes more than one letter. But if we can isolate one, we will, you know, use a different color for it. In some Orton Gillingham training, they talk about these as red words, but we will emphasize that tricky letter, and so we've emphasized it visually and then we go through this whole, I mentioned how orthographic mapping happens so much more slowly for someone dyslexic. So, I have a pattern that I use. And I have a cue card for it that incorporates a couple of different methods I've seen. But basically, they're using gross motor, which I know you use with, you know, a hundred lessons and handwriting, using the gross motor first. So, they'll stand up. I won't stand up here, cause I don't think you'll see me, but they'll tap it. They'll hold the card, so they're looking at it. They're tapping their arms for every letter. C, H, ah! The. And every time they're saying the tricky letter differently, they're looking at it. It's different, and then they're going to do every time the letters, and then the word. So, we do the arm stuff. Then we do a finger step where their finger writes on some, my kids don't like finger writing on sandpaper. But we'll use some other surface. You could use a salt tray. You could use anything. But they're finger writing it, the same thing every time. THE the. THE the. And then they're looking at the card, they're writing it. Then they do the same thing with a crayon with sandpaper and the back of the paper. Then they do, then they flip over the card so they can't see it. Try to picture it in their mind and do it again with a pencil, still sandpaper in the back.

Then we'll use that for copy work after we've introduced a word and they'll do rainbow writing as you recommend. And your handwriting. We'll use one of those garage sale stickers for the tricky letter. We'll use stamps. I'll let him do it five times writing, but then they can use stamps so they're practicing it. They need a lot of repetition, but the key is, number one, that they are noticing the sounds that make sense. So, the tricky ones, and then that they are using tactile and you know auditory and visual cues. Cause that's all, the more pathways to the brain, the better. And I've noticed for my one child that's clearly more kinesthetic if he's having trouble remembering his, you know, spelling words, sometimes I'll be like, start tapping it.

J -

Yes, we tap them.

T -

And then all of a sudden, he remembers because there's that muscle memory in that connection. So, but they can lose those words, so we have to continue the practice and we do games with it. There's games that coordinate with the sight word list from Barton that my kids love. My twelve-year-old is actually asked to learn the Barton rules so that he can play the games with siblings. And I'm like, woo! So, we do the multi-sensory and then that we do it the same every time. We can mix it up a little bit and use a salt tray one time and use something else for finger rating. But using those same steps just like Charlotte Mason's habit training stuff, right? You take that question out of the equation. They don't have to remember the steps anymore. They can focus on the letters in the words. Now that's for tricky words, but for other words, the other thing I really like about the program we're using, it's the only one I know of that uses reading and spelling combined.

J -

Baton, you mean?

T -

Yes. So it goes slower for the reading as a result, but once they're, you know, they've got the decoding skills where they can take apart, you know a word, let's say with a three-letter blends as well as digraphs, they can also spell those words.

J -

Yes, right.

T -

They're learning to pull it, they're running both of those steps simultaneously, which is something, you know unique about that particular program and it's working really well for us cause we're, you know, doing spelling tests and stuff. Uh uh, you know…not happening.

But if they can pull apart those sounds, they can pull apart and you know at the beginning, it's just close syllables with one vowel. But if they could have, you know up to seven letters, you know if there's a three-letter blend at the beginning, and then a vowel and then a digraph blend at the end, they know all those sounds. They've learned to pull them apart.

J -

Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's great. That's super helpful. That, I think that breaks down spelling a lot more, and I think it makes a lot more enjoyable. And I always hear like oh well, we can't do Charlotte Mason cause my kid's a kinesthetic learner. And I'm like what are you talking about? We're moving and doing all kinds of stuff all the time. We're never just... I mean, we might sit around and listen to a story, but we do a lot more with it and a lot more different things. Yeah, for sure. I like bringing on all those modalities.

Would you have a final word of encouragement or direction or Charlotte Mason quote you'd like to share with us, or both?

T -

You mentioned the Charlotte Mason quotes. I feel like the biggest one that is at once both daunting and very encouraging and freeing, especially with children with reading challenges, is to remind ourselves of what education is. Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life. It is not tied to one scale or one year, or one modality of learning. It is holistic. And that is true for our kids with learning differences and special needs. It is true for us as moms. And it's a beautiful thing.

J -

And I love this because I think people think, well, my child struggles with this. This style of education is not going to work. Like my child is dyslexic, so we can do a Charlotte Mason education cause there's too much reading and I'm like, no, this really provides them such amazing quality education. Nicole and I talked a lot about that on that episode with her. Just the feast, right, and all the different things that they're learning and all the different modalities and all the different subjects, yeah.

T -

They're not being held back from, they're smart kids. They're not being held back from you know, appropriate developmental level information and stories because a textbook and workbook, if anything, is a bad fit, a textbook and workbook approach is a really bad fit for a dyslexic.

J -

I 100% agree with you, yes.

T -

Especially if you want, you know, if you don't want kids that hate school and learning by extension, and if you don't want kids that are always dependent on you. If you want them to own their own education, you know...

J -

We all want that. Yes, leave the best. Yes.

T -

A ten-year-old, you know, we've transitioned to where you know he has some work, independent work in the morning and in the afternoon. And you know, I draw pictures for some of them, you know, he knows our island story. I drive this little pathetic little island in the chapter, and he knows he has to check a box for, you know, art box and box for narrating. And he does his video narrations and he's owning it.

J -

That's awesome.

T -

You know we came back from, we had a break week last week and you know, the first week, first day back from break weeks always rough, I feel. But oh, my goodness, he sat down at lunch and my husband comes home for lunch and he said to him, and he and he said how was your day? And he said we go back to school today, it was fun. And Johnathan just looks at him and he looks at me. And I'm just like...

H -

Yeah, I'm awesome.

T -

I'm just like this is, this is wonderful.

J -

Have you seen the island story on Librivox, or did you find it where it reads it to them on something?

T -

On audible, I have an audible Kindle.

J -

For our own story. Okay, I didn't know they had that for that. Oh, that's great.

T -

So yeah, yeah. And I mean that keeping the name straight is a whole other issue, so we're just baby-stepping into, okay, let's write down one word like cause you can look at the title and write down the name. So, then you can mention the name instead of, it's always, you know, something with this guy, but they're interesting stories and you know they're getting it. And they're getting the habit, and that's more important, as she says, than actually, the specific content, because if they can get in the habit of reading, whether it's ear reading, eye reading, finger reading, they're reading, they're learning, they're expressing it. You know?

J -

Yep. That's what you want. And yeah, I mean I can't even keep all those Kings straight in our island story, but you know, you're feeding their imagination and you're sparking those ideas within them and that is really what counts at that age. So, it's a fantastic book for that purpose. And if they can, you know, pick up a few people here and there and remember.

T -

And it motivates them to want to learn to read it because stories are so big. They want more access to it.

J -

Yeah, nobody wants to read ??? for fun. Like no one. So, inspiring them with these wonderful stories, yeah, definitely motivates them to want to keep doing it. So, thank you so much for taking the time. This is super practical. How can people connect with you if they want to get more information or talk to you about a screening?

T -

Through my Facebook page, which is Light Bulb Moments Tutoring. Or someone isn't on Facebook. I do have an email address, [email protected]

J -

Okay, cool.

T -

So those are probably the best ways to get a hold of me. And as you know I'm pretty active on the Gentle Feast page, groups also.

J -

Which I very much appreciate. All right, thanks, Tammy.

T -

Thanks. Bye Julie.

Thank you for joining us today on the Charlotte Mason Show. I'm your host Julie Ross, and I would love to meet you in person. All of the Great Homeschool Conventions have been rescheduled to 2021. Go to greathomeschoolconventions.com to find a convention near you.

But you don't have to wait until 2021 to experience the amazing speakers and vendors at the Great Homeschool Conventions. They now offer an online convention that you can find on greathomeschoolconventions.com. Also, if you would like the show notes for today's episode, go to homeschooling.mom. If you take a moment to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes and leave a review, I would greatly appreciate it. It helps get the word out about this podcast to our audience.

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