Dyslexia & Unschooling

This is a glimpse into how Dyslexia and Unschooling look in our daily life

If you’re new here or missed me talking about this before, I have Dyslexia and Nakiah(my oldest) was recently diagnosed with Dyslexia. In the last few weeks, I’ve had several friends ask me what made me suspect it so I figured I would share the bullet list of things I noticed and some of my other thoughts on the subject.
Here is an excellent website that explains what Dyslexia is. They talk a lot about learning in the classroom and that doesn’t apply to us, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try some of their tips and tricks. As long as I keep things light and fun like a game my kids are up for it.

Most people think that Dyslexia is all about writing, reading, and spelling. It does affect those areas of life, but some of the things I noticed with myself and Nakiah , Dyslexia doesn’t always have a lot to do with any of the three. It’s hard to tell what’s “normal” for a certain age and what isn’t, especially when you aren’t keeping up with what kids are learning in the public school system. Here is what I did notice:

  • Challenges with the Alphabet – mostly lowercase letters – which can be tricky because some letters have multiple sounds. Others look very similar to each other.
  • Writing letters and numbers backward.
  • Flipping letters and numbers.
  • Difficulty remembering left from right.
  • Has a hard time learning to tie shoes so she prefers slip ons only for the time being.
  • Trouble with buttons and snaps on clothing.
  • Up until recently, she had trouble with Rhyming.
  • Difficulty with speech and pronouncing words – flipping her words when speaking. I do this all the time.
  • Trouble remembering symbols.
  • Trouble following directions that go beyond one step at a time – I can’t say to her “the applesauce is in the fridge, on the 2nd shelf, towards the back in the red bowl, on the right side.” That’s too much information at one time.

You know how sometimes you mix up your right from left, or how you had trouble remember which way the bump goes for the lowercase b and d? It can be 100 times worse for someone with Dyslexia. I don’t remember learning how to read, I just remember always loving to read. I’m a bit of a speed reader…if I go slow I’ll flip-flop my words and letters like crazy. I’ve mentioned before how I mistake was for saw and 501 for 510. I usually do stuff like that at first glance. Nakiah has developed her own system for remembering numbers. If the number is 51 she’ll ask me “mom, for 51 does that 5 go in the front and the 1 goes in the back?”  Yes. “For 15, the 1 goes in the front and the 5 goes in the back? That’s right. She also uses that for spelling words.

I used to worry and wonder if being unschoolers and not using formal curriculum made things worse for her, but I have mostly given up on that line of thinking. I say mostly because I still have my fears and worries at times, and it was until the last six months when I finally learned to chill out. There are plenty of kids who don’t have dyslexia and didn’t learn to read until they were 10-12 years old! Here’s a list of links on kids learning to read on their own. Would she be reading by now if she didn’t have Dyslexia? I guess we’ll never know. Even though it feels good and free to live outside the box, it can also be scary. Most of us grew up thinking and believing in this one way to learn and be taught.  I remind myself that she’s not incapable of learning to read….it’s a mixture of her not being ready, no interest, and having Dyslexia.  Nakiah plays a lot of video games(great for problem-solving and reading) and we have a fair amount of books, so she’s exposed to print on a daily basis. The only way she would never learn to read is if we were all illiterate. She does recognize a lot of words by sight, but she still can’t recall it to write it out or type it out. Her vision is 20/25, and she views the world in a three-dimensional way….very visual and hands on. She has a talent for drawing from memory and often remembers places we’ve lived or visited from the time she was 2-3yrs old.

I really prefer to put the focus on what she does know instead of what she doesn’t. I believe in her and trust that she will learn the things she doesn’t know when the time is right for her.

I recently found this website that has a special font called Dyslexie Typeface. There is a free download for home use.
I love it! Just a quick skim of their website had me hooked. Digging deeper I really started to like the font. It’s so much easier to read….the letters stand out so clear and they’re spaced apart perfectly. They talk about making the bottoms of letters heavier so they can’t be flipped and enlarging the letters so they look less alike. There’s so much more, please check out their website.

I see so much of myself as a child when I look at Nakiah. The big difference is that she’s way more confident in herself than I was at her age. I remember cheating on my math tests when I attended the Christian school. I also remember being paddled for it because that was the punishment for cheating. I wish I could’ve explained to someone why I felt the need to cheat…I just had the hardest time with numbers and comprehending word problems. Going to public school I was picked on every day. I was called stupid and even had one of my teachers in high school call me out to make fun of me in front of the entire class.

Nakiah doesn’t have to worry about that. She lives her days freely. She can express to me when she’s having trouble remembering days of the week, numbers, letters, and counting money. If she asks me how to spell something she doesn’t have to worry about me turning it into some kind of quiz…I tell her how the word is spelled. I do not believe that she needs to learn about adversity by being picked on by her peers for learning differently than they do. She doesn’t need her self-esteem crushed like that day after day. My goal with unschooling my kids isn’t academics anyway, and I know that floors some people, but my focus is on them enjoying childhood. There’s no way they can’t or won’t learn!  They are free of memorization, grades, and tests. I have no doubt that Nakiah will learn how to keep going and push herself when it’s right for her and not because I or someone else says so. When she gets frustrated we back off and can try again later. Sometimes later is months down the road and sometimes it’s the next day. It works for us.

This is a glimpse into how Dyslexia and Unschooling look in our daily life.

I came across articles on dyslexia from Freeplaylife  and she has talked in-depth about what Dyslexia looks like for her daughter… if you want to read about another family unschooling with Dyslexia.

I was not compensated for mentioning Dyslexie Typeface. I just think it’s a really cool idea, and Nintendo uses it!
Thank You For Sharing!

15 Replies to “Dyslexia & Unschooling”

  1. Kudos to you for being such an awesome, loving mama! 🙂

    1. Thanks Juliana, I don’t always see myself as a very good mother. Doing the best I can with what I know and what I’ve got to work with.

  2. such a powerful post. as parents, we can sometimes be too focused on our kids fitting into a mold or meeting a standard and that comes from a place of not wanting your child to be left behind. so it takes a strong mama to buck the system and school her babies they way she knows is right

    1. Exactly, no parent wants their child left behind. When we’re able to meet them where they are they won’t be left behind. For me doing that is a daily and moment by moment choice. Some days and moments I do great, other times I worry. I guess that’s part of being a mother. Thanks for your comment!

    2. Khat Missig says: Reply

      I like what you said! My 11 year old has dyslexia and for about five years, we’ve unschooled. Allowing him time to mature and develop without the stress of therapy and tutoring has made a difference. He is an excellent reader now although he does not pick up long books for fun. I don’t know when everything clicked into place last year but it did, with very little effort. He listened to many audio books and I think that helped. I’m amazed he can read so well…he is working on his writing now. I hope the same happens for yours. My point is, don’t worry. (something I have to remember as my daughter, 10, has autism and is also dyslexic) I loved your article!

      1. Thanks for sharing that with me.
        My daughter has started to read and write more over the last several months. Like you said, something clicked. It’s been amazing to watch!

  3. […] article on Dyslexia highlights that students with dyslexia have many challenges that go far beyond reading, writing and […]

  4. Well done for having the courage to take your child out of school. In my opinion, schools don’t do enough for talented, Dyslexic kids. Dyslexia doesn;t mean inferior, it simply means different! I think the most important thing to distill in a child who has a learning DIFFERENCE is self-belief and confidence. Schools encourage children to mould themselves to a standard form, way of working and learning.I think if a kid has Dyslexia, he or she needs to be encouraged to let their Dyslexic TALENTS shine through, not be surpressed!

    I was diagnosed with Dyselxia only a year ago (age 22). I don’t have problems with letters, and I was so good at problem-solving that it seems I was a mastermind at hiding my different way of thinking and coping! But deep down I always knew that I thought differently- was a bit slower at conventional things and like your daughter, couldn’t compute simple facts. However, having recently realised the cause of many of my weaknesses, it has given me a new strength and confidence to be utterly myself, and to be proud of and use the strengths that come along with my Dyslexia. I wish someone had told me earlier that it was OK to think and learn differently. 🙂

  5. I am a mom of 4 wonderful kids. My 10 year old son is Dyslexic, and I am thinking about pulling him out of school because he is shutting down, and hates learning. Any advice?

  6. Monica Issitt says: Reply

    I would love to have an email chat about this! My son, 8, has dyslexia, dysgraphia, and some executive function issues. We are unschoolers but he goes to therapy twice a week. We still have a long row to hoe, and it is difficult for me to reconcile the two these days. He abhores therapy and I quite frankly resent the hell out of it most days, even though this is something I feel he needs. It is the one area where the Parent Decision is not up for discussion. It is not a comfortable dichotomy. Any input or suggestions or empathy? 🙂

  7. My son has severe dyslexia. I pulled him out of public school when he was in 2nd grade. We have never unschooled but we practice relaxed homeschooling. He was able to start reading and spelling better when we used workbooks that incorporated the Orton-Gillingham method. I know that unschoolers usually don’t like workbooks, but I thought I might mention it since it helped us out…just in case you wanted to purchase one and leave it lying around for your daughter to find. 🙂 My son’s reading started coming together at age 9. He is just now, at age 12, starting to read with a good amount of fluidity and tries to read signs wherever we go. He is still not fascinated with books.

    But my dad has dyslexia and wasn’t able to read at all until he was 13 years old. Though he was afraid he wouldn’t, he did eventually learn to read. He attended the public school system during the 1950s and 1960s. What he was taught in class never helped him, but he eventually figured out how to read on his own. He managed to graduate high school and then eventually made it to college. He got a degree in animal husbandry and worked with animals hands-on for 40 years. My dad’s self-esteem is not very high. He puts himself down and says he is not very smart. I often wonder if it is partly due to how much he was demoralized during his childhood. Anyway, I think it’s great that you are trying to focus on all of the positives with your daughter. That’s wonderful!

  8. I’m supposed to be making breakfast but I’m getting lost on your blog! So wonderful! Anyway, I highly recommend a book called The Right Side of Normal: http://www.therightsideofnormal.com/ It has totally changed my perception of how I view my right brain learner.
    Monica Utsey recently posted…Read Africa – Africana Book AwardsMy Profile

    1. Ha! Thanks for taking the time to read through, I’m glad you’re enjoying it. I will definitely look into the book you suggested. I’m all for books that talk about Dyslexia in a positive way.

  9. Thank you so much for writing this! We’re in a similar position (unschooling with three neurodiverse children, one of whom is dyslexic) only a few years behind you, and it was super helpful to read your stories. The Dyslexie font looks great too – excellent tip!

    1. Hi Dave, thanks for taking the time to read. I’m glad what I’ve shared has helped. I need to update and write a new one since it’s been five years!

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