*This post contains affiliate links for Memoria Press products. No other affiliate links are present. All opinions are my own.
A mom once asked me, “What would you do differently if you could go back?” That question has been haunting me lately. Beginning next week, I actually get that chance. I get to go back — with the same child — and I definitely plan to do things differently.
My just-turned 8 year old has been working on reading since she was 4-1/2. She seemed ready at the time, so we started slowly and just took things at her pace.
But that pace stayed the same during Kindergarten. And most of 1st grade.
For a variety of reasons, she has been in 1st grade for almost two years. We were finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, when I began to notice a problem:
She’s relying on her memory of the stories, pictures in the books, what would fit the sentences, and a mixture of the letters in a word in order to “read.”
She can sound out words and she can read fluently at a late-Kindergarten level. But when she reaches a word she doesn’t know, she’s trying to process the whole word at once instead of breaking it into its parts.
Even when she tries to sound it out, she starts pulling sounds from other parts of the word, or even sounds that aren’t there.
I confirmed that she sees the right letters and that she sees them in the right order, but some experienced friends advised we could still be looking at dyslexia.
Another possibility is that I messed up — royally.
When she kept struggling in Kindergarten, we switched over to Simply Classical Level 1 for phonics/reading.
We’re about to do a “Phonics Intensive” where we go back through all of SC1 and the first 20+ weeks of SC2. We’ll be doing lots of re-learning, reviewing, practicing, activities, etc.
At the worst, my mistakes and assumptions have placed my daughter here. At the least, they’ve made things harder for her.
What I Will Do Differently
UPDATE: we did some informal assessments yesterday and something deeper is definitely going on. We’ll still be following the below plan, but we’ll go more slowly. We’re also pursuing official testing.
Get all the supplies. I was trying to save money our first time through, so I didn’t buy the recommended supplies like sandpaper letters, a jump rope and ball for multi-sensory activities, etc. We were in a tight spot, but I should have looked around the house for substitute items or asked what other options we might have.
Be prepared. Instead of looking ahead for the week, I used to open the lesson plans and dive in. I wasn’t ready for review activities, so I would start to feel flustered and we would end up skipping them.
Avoid assumptions. I would often skip review assignments because I assumed my daughter already knew the material. When her reading began to regress, we would then do intensive reviews of earlier material. Things would get better after a week or two, I would assume we had solved the problem, and then I would stop reviewing the really old material.
Guess what happened? Two months would go by and she would start regressing. Again.
Do everything assigned — whether I feel like it or not. It’s hard to homeschool. It’s hard to homeschool multiple children. It’s hard to homeschool multiple children while dealing with a chronic illness. It’s even harder to homeschool while dealing with our own fallen nature. If I decide to set something aside, it must meet the following criteria:
- It must be for a legitimate reason. Unless I’m almost bed-ridden, “Too tired to deal with this,” isn’t a legitimate reason.
- We must do it the next day — on top of the new assignments/activities.
I don’t know how long this process will take; but when we reach the other side, I want to know I did everything I was supposed to do.
I’m nervous. I’m hopeful. I’m praying for the grace to help my daughter well.