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What curriculum should I buy if I have a child with a learning disability?
I was just recently asked this question during a Q and A session. This can be a tricky question, but you have come to the right place.
As many of you may know my children have all had their struggles in school. I have really had to focus on finding curriculum that will fit my children well.
There are a lot of types of learning disabilities a child can possess. My oldest son has Autism, my middle son has problems with fine motor skills, and my youngest child had an Auditory Processing problem. I have struggled too with what curriculum to pick for them.
First let’s dive into the different types of learning disabilities.
- Dyslexia: Dyslexia is a difficulty with reading. You often confuse letters and visualize letters backwards. Reading speed and fluency, understanding words and ideas, and general vocabulary skills also can be a sign of Dyslexia.
- Dyscalculia: Dyscalculia is Dyslexia for Math! Often children will write and say their numbers backwards. You might see your child writing his 5 backward. That is an example of Dyscalculia. Children can also struggle with difficulty sequencing, memorization, and organization.
- Dysgraphia: Dysgraphia is when a child struggles with putting their thoughts down on paper. Maybe they cannot adequately communicate what they are trying to say. They may struggle with the consistency, coherence, and organization of writing. They can struggle with accurately copying letters and words. It can also affect your child’s spelling!
- Motor Skills: These children struggle with fine and/or gross motor skills. For example, my son can not cut to save his life. He also struggles with handwriting. He can write fine, but it takes him an hour to copy a paragraph. The problem here is the brain is not communicating as well as expected with the appropriate limbs to do the work.
- Aphasia/Dysphasia: I really like how the website helpingguide.org explains it. It states “Language and communication learning disabilities involve the ability to understand or produce spoken language. Language is also considered an output activity because it requires organizing thoughts in the brain and is calling upon the right words to verbally explain something and communicate with someone else.”
- Signs of Aphasia/Dysphasia are inability to retell a story, fluency of speech and inability to understand the meaning of words, parts of speech, and direction.
- Auditory and Visual Processing Disorders: An Auditory Disorder affects the ears. A person with an Auditory Disorder may not be able to hear adequately. It could be a subtle sound. My daughter struggles with this. She could not decipher the different sounds of the letters. With a strategy from my son’s Speech Therapist, we strengthened her ability to “remember” the sound. I had to say the sound over and over. I would have Izzy look at me and watch me say it and then repeat after me. We also played a lot of memory because that strengthened her memory in her brain. It worked! By strengthening her memory she was over to overcome this. Now, I am not saying that what worked for my daughter will work for yours. EVERY child is different. But make sure to have your child’s ears checked FIRST. Visual Processing Disorder affects the eyes. Get your child’s eyes checked first to confirm if there is a seeing problem. Then you can find strategies or seek a medical professional for help!
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: You may not view ADHD as a learning disability, but it can drastically distract your student enough that it causes a problem. If they are constantly wiggling and bouncing energy out of them, it takes away from what they should be learning. I bought both of my boys Standing Desks. The concept to the desk is the student get to pick if they want to sit or stand. Their Standing Desks have a toe kick bar. My one son kicks his energy out on his sway bar for hours at a time during school. This is our strategy. I cannot tell you enough how much this has helped both my boys. Because they are given an alternative to having to sit still and focus, and it has expanded their attention by 1000%. It is amazing! But remember every child is different and everyone needs to find their own strategy. I can just tell you what works for my kids.
- Autism: Autism is when a child has a “A-Typical Neurological Brain”. It means children with Autism brain are not wired the same as a “Neurotypical” child. Autism is affecting 1 in 56 children now. It is imperative to get your child tested if you think your child may have Autism. Children with Autism struggle with learning delays, language delays, and social interaction. There are a lot of strategies coming out that are greatly helping children with Autism. Social Thinking is one of the best programs (I think).
I am sure I have not even scratched the surface of learning disabilities, but these are some of the top learning disabilities. It is imperative if you suspect a learning disability to get your child tested.
Next, it is essential to start trying different strategies that may help your child cope with or try to overcome their disability. There may never be a cure or a magic strategy, but as parents, it is up to us to try and set our children up for success.
Having said that, how can we set our children up for success…. through picking a curriculum that will fit their disability. Once we have identified any disabilities, we should try and figure out what kind of learning style are they.
If your child had ADHD, maybe sit-down workbook pages will not be the right fit for your child. You may then want to use a Charlotte Mason or Unit Studies approach to teaching.
If you child has Dyscalculia, pick a multi-sensory Math that will have the child see, write, say, and touch approach. My favorite would be Math U See. Your child is going to make 4 different pathways in their brain to learn how to complete their math problems.
I love the Orton Gillingham approach to learning. I personally look for multi-sensory curriculum for my children. Things I look for are
1 Are they workbook pages (short)?
2 Are there coloring sheets (great for different ages)?
3 Are there any hands-on activities like lapbooks or experiments?
4 Is it easy to use?
Lastly, once you have established your child’s learning style and identified any disabilities, then you are ready to pick your curriculum. Personally I like to look at homeschooling curriculum on www.christianbook.com. I have noticed they have the most pages to preview for each book, and I really value this because I like to compare curriculum. There are publishers out there that also have visual examples of their books.
(I am now an affiliate for Christian Book) I recommend them because I have used them for years and love them. They have many preview pages..which I like!