Discovering Dyslexia

alyquy

The look on her face, as she stared at the flashcard, revealed the confusion going on inside her head.  She could not make sense of the letters. The simple word"in" became an impossible puzzle. She knew what an "i" sounded like.  She knew what an "n" sounded like.  But the pieces did not fit.  The word was never formed.  Her bright eyes grew misty and the storm came.  The only evidence of a reading lesson were the tears that fell on the table.

Why could other children her age read and she could not?  Why was she unable to learn?  I had no answers.

She was a smart girl, so I thought the road to reading would be a well lit path.  The path dimmed with each flashcard and each reader book she could not decipher.  We had bright moments when the words made sense and stickers were happily given for her achievement.  Those moments were overshadowed by a disconnect between what she saw on paper and what she was able to understand. The world of reading was closed off to her.  I tried to give her the keys but the door would not unlock. Her ability to understand what was being read to her was well above her grade level.  Yet, here she sat unable to remember the entire alphabet and struggling to read sight words.  I had to find the key that unlocked her ability to learn.  I had a child who asked me to teach her how to read and yet I could not.  I had a child who begged me not to teach her little sister how to read before her.  I could make no guarantees.

Determined to find a key, I headed to the bookstore to purchase yet another set of early reader books. I looked at the selection and felt defeated.  I had almost everything there and what was left were cookie cutter versions of the same materials. Then a promise of hope walked up to me.  She saw the book in my hand and told me what a great resource it was for her daughters.  I smiled but doubted she could understand the struggle going on.  She told me her daughters were dyslexic.  Dyslexia.  It was the third time I had heard the word that week.  Could it be possible?  My promise of hope offered a name of a reading specialist who may hold the key.  I called immediately and made an appointment.

It was the day before my daughter's 7th birthday.  My husband and I sat across from another promise of hope as she explained our daughter's test results.  She began by telling us how impressed she was by some of the scores.  Alyssa is a very bright girl who scored well above her grade level in many areas.  Despite her difficulty with rote memory she scored high in math which was a testament to her intelligence.  Like the wind foreshadows an impending storm, I knew these kind and encouraging words would leading us toward the rain.  The disparity in her high scores to her low scores were vast.  The vastness represented the severity of the disability. Alyssa also showed a problem with both phonological awareness and phonological memory.  Many dyslexics only have an issue
with one but she has both.  Her quick wit and keen observation betrayed her as the scores in rapid naming and processing put her well below a Kindergarten level.

A storm never stays.  The ground feels the impact of the lightening and is covered by the rain but it always resurfaces.  It resurfaces to feel the warmth of the sun;  the feeling of hope. What seems like
devastating winds reveals truth and clears a path.  Dyslexia does not prevent the swirls of creative imagination from moving.  It does not strip the person from feeling the joys of the written word.  It
does not mean defeat.  It simply puts you on a different path of learning.  We are leaving the dark path behind as we follow a new well lit path. We stand grateful for God's nudging, grateful for the rays of hope He brought this mom who sought only to grant her child's request to read, grateful to know this beautiful mind.

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Richele McFarlin, author of Under the Golden Apple Tree, and founder of Moms of Dyslexics, enjoys a good cup of coffee as she demonstrates her ability to wrestle HTML to the ground and write from the heart.

Top 3 Favorite Reading Programs

reading programs for struggling readers
1.  Logic of English
  • No frills.  Straightforward.  Simple to use and implement.
  • One program for all ages.  Suggestions for proper use for each age group.
  • Teaches from a solid Orton-Gillingham method.
  • The phonogram is associated with the sound so the letter becomes the image.  This is especially important for dyslexics.
  • Lessons teach phonics, phonograms, spelling, dictation, and grammar.
  • As the name of the program suggests it is taught in a logical and orderly fashion.
  • All sounds for a vowel are taught at one time.  This is to prevent confusion and frustration when a child learns short "a" and then must adjust to long "a".  Again, this is very important for dyslexics.  A child will actually have to unlearn and relearn phonics to master the concept of "a" sounds if not taught at one time.
  • Incorporates multi-sensory learning which is key for dyslexics.
  • The site has videos on the Orton-Gillingham method to give you a better understanding of how to teach.
  • Spelling journals, phonetic cards, and games, are sold separately, so you can build the system that will work for you.
  • Minimal to moderate teacher prep.
  • Step by step instructions on how to teach the lessons.
  • K-Adult
2.  Reading Horizons
  • Offers online and offline materials which can be used together or separately.
  • Uses the Orton-Gillingham method.
  • Can be used for all levels of reading from emerging to struggling.
  • Separated into different age and level categories.
  • Site offers webinars and tips on using their curriculum as well as understanding language better.
  • Site offers customers videos teaching each lesson of the new Discovery program.  This makes teaching the material foolproof.
  • Moderate teacher prep.
  • Full program comes with phonics cards, game ideas, posters, and more!
  • Reader books tailor made to the course materials.
  • Customer service is top notch.
  • Step by step instruction on how to teach each lesson.
  • K-Adult
3.  All About Learning Press
  • Begins at the earliest level of reading. (preK)
  • The program is based in the Orton-Gillingham method.
  • Multi-sensory approach which is key for dyslexics.
  • Teacher's manuals are easy to understand and incorporate.
  • Children's workbooks are engaging and effective.
  • Reader books that are tailor made to the course materials.
  • Site is filled with useful information and help on teaching and understanding the method of the program.
  • Offers a CD with phonics so both teacher and student can be confident with the sounds.
  • Stickers and reward charts keep children motivated.
  • Full set comes with everything you need to begin.
  • Moderate teacher prep.
  • Step by step instructions on how to teach each lesson.
  • For grades Pre-K to 2nd/3rd grade.




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Moms of Dyslexics
Richele McFarlin, author of Under the Golden Apple Tree, founder of Moms of Dyslexics and co-founder of CG Press, enjoys a good cup of coffee as she demonstrates her ability to wrestle HTML to the ground while writing what is on her heart.

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Richele McFarlin, author of Under the Golden Apple Tree, and founder of Moms of Dyslexics, enjoys a good cup of coffee as she demonstrates her ability to wrestle HTML to the ground and write from the heart.

10 Ways to Build Letter Recognition

letterrecognition
  1. Whiteboard Writing.  Using a dry erase board is not only fun but it covers a multitude of sins.  Use several different colored dry erase markers to keep it interesting.  As the child progresses you may want to challenge her to write the vowels in red or a blend in green, etc.
  2. Memory Game.  Purchase or make flashcards with capital letters and lower case letters.  Make two sets for each.  You can play by matching capital letters to capital letters and lower case letters to lower case letters.  As the child progresses, match capital letters to lower case letters.  I caution against matching letters to images that begin with letter sounds.  For dyslexics, the image will not represent the sound but the letter.  So, when a dyslexic child sees a "D", she see "dog" and not associate it with the letter sound. The letter shapes need to be their own images.    
  3. ABC Hopscotch.  Make a hopscotch board and replace the numbers with letters.  Then call out a letter sound and have your child jump to the letter.
  4. Letter Touch.  Place plastic letters in a pouch or bag that is not transparent.  Have your child find a letter by feeling for the shape.
  5. Foam ABC Letter Puzzle.  Place the foam letters from the puzzle in a tray and cover with rice.  Have the child dig for the letters and once found place that letter in the puzzle.  Make sure your child calls out the name of each letter.
  6. Tactile Letters.  Create letters out of cardboard or heavy card stock.  Glue different textures to the letters such as rice, sandpaper, buttons, felt, carpet, furry material, etc.  Your child will enjoy feel the different textures as she traces the letters. Instead of creating the entire alphabet at once, consider only making the letters you are currently studying.  It will not be as overwhelming and you will soon have the entire alphabet.
  7. Clay.  Use clay to make letters.
  8. Painting.  Have your child paint letters on large pieces of paper.
  9. Techie Letters.  If you have a tablet then consider downloading apps that encouraging letter tracing. On the iPad you can find, ABC Tracer, Elmo Loves Letters, Little Writer, and iWrite Words.
  10. Twister Letters.  Remember the old Twister game?  Instead of placing your hands and feet on the colors you will have your child place her hands and feet on letters.  Use a Twister game to create this or make one of your own.

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Richele McFarlin, author of Under the Golden Apple Tree, and founder of Moms of Dyslexics, enjoys a good cup of coffee as she demonstrates her ability to wrestle HTML to the ground and write from the heart.

5 Ways to Cope on Difficult Reading Days

difficult reading lessons

Sometimes the only evidence of a reading lesson is tears stains on the pages.  Sometimes our hearts break when our child expresses no joy in reading.  Sometimes your child needs something other than defeat at the sight of "is".
  1. Act it Out:  Using the vocabulary words, have your student act out the meaning of a word.  Connecting a word to an idea is essential for dyslexics.  The activity provides the connection and a low key atmosphere.
  2. Get Artistic:  Implement the use of clay or paint to create an image for words and practice spelling.
  3. Read Aloud:  A child struggling to read may learn to see books as the object of that struggle.  Reading aloud will help the child enjoy books without stress.
  4. Story Telling:  Allow your child to author his own story.  Challenge him to use the current words in his study to come up with story.  You may want to play the game where he starts the story and you add to and then he adds to it and so on.
  5. Put the Lesson Away:  That's right, put it away.  Your child is more important than a reading lesson.  Your relationship with your child is more important than a reading lesson.  Pressure and stress do not make good motivators.  You certainly do not intend to stress your child.  Chances are your actions are not wrong.  However, a dyslexic child can become overwhelmed quickly with words.  A lesson is rendered ineffective if the child is too stressed to absorb it.  So, push it aside.  Being another subject or take a break.

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Richele McFarlin, author of Under the Golden Apple Tree, and founder of Moms of Dyslexics, enjoys a good cup of coffee as she demonstrates her ability to wrestle HTML to the ground and write from the heart.

Dinosaurs and Snoopy...A Cedar Point Experience

(Following post was in exchange for a complimentary visit to Cedar Point as a Cedar Point Blogger. Otherwise not compensated and content may not reflect the views of Cedar Point.)
In this corner of the world we boast of our treasure; Cedar Point. For many of us vacation doesn't officially begin until the first day Cedar Point opens. From May until Halloweekends, families from all over the United States can spend the day screaming on rollar coasters, eating amazing fries, and winning stuff animals, together. Close or far, you can extend the fun by staying overnight at one of Cedar Point's hotels like Hotel Breakers or Sandcastle Resort. Taking of advantage of living so close, we make a Cedar Point visit a family tradition. It seems almost every year there is something new to see or ride and this year was no exception.
Cedar Point announced two new family friendly rides this year; the Pipe Scream and the Lake Erie Eagles. Not being of the constitution to ride rollar coasters anymore, I appreciated the opportunity to seek a thrill on the level my stomach could handle. The Pipe Scream secures screams on a 302 foot track which sends you 43 feet up in the air racing at over 40 miles an hour. It is like a compact rollar coaster that has all the fun thrills you want without the anxiety you don't need...that is if you are the type of person a wee bit anxious on the big coasters. Lake Erie Eagles suspends you almost 30 feet in the air and swings you out yet unlike any other ride you can control your level of thrill. It really is the coolest ride and one every member of your family can enjoy over and over again. We look forward to riding both next year!
So let's say riding isn't your thing...is there something for you? I admit that riding isn't really my thing anymore. I also have a five year old who cannot go on the bigger rides. Which is fine by me since she is my excuse for still having fun on all the Snoopy rides. My family is a mixed bag on enjoyment level of the rides but we all love our time at Cedar Point. There are some things that make it special for us and I bet you have some memories of your own. If not, get out there and make some.

Snoopy is a Favorite Attraction

Taking a picture with Snoopy is a must! My little girl rides every Snoopy ride and I even get to go on a few of them. We all love the Snoopy shop. This year I was good and only purchased a keychain....and t-shirt...and a stuff animal....and...let's just move on...
Getting a hug from Lucy always brightens the day a little.
 

Games and Prizes

Sporting their new Cedar Point hats, these girls were winners! We must come home with a prize. They get the biggest thrill from winning. Stuffed animals come and go but these prizes were added to the rest when we got home and are here to stay. Good thing they aren't better at those games or we would be overrun
Someone else "forgot" a hat that day and just "had" to buy another one. If you find yourself without a hat or sunglasses...no worries....you can just pick on up when you get there. Now we all know things are more expensive at theaters and amusement parks but will say that hats and sunglasses are a good deal.
A little bumper car action is always fun...even for those looking to find their thrills on the ground. However, this little girl can't seem to find a rollar coaster that goes high enough or fast enough.
 
Who can resist the Merry Go Round? I was quite disappointed when the ride ended. My horse and I made a good team. I don't think he wanted me to go either. When the ride stopped he was as high off the ground as possible which is always a precarious situation for a 5 foot woman trying to gracefully jump off.

Dinosaurs at Cedar Point

Yes, you read that right...there are dinosaurs at Cedar Point. Dinosaurs Alive is a fairly new exhibit at Cedar Point. If you have a budding paleontologist then this is the place! It hosts over 40 life sized dinosaurs that move and roar. You walk through the exhibit never knowing which dinosaur you will see next. My little one loves dinosaurs so each step was thrilling for her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She never thought she could get so close!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More surprises!

This is just a tiny portion of the adventure you will encounter!

 

And this, my friends, is where you can sit and relax while the kids play and learn. It was my little one's favorite part of the day. A covered excavation play site just for the kids. Kids pick out a bucket with some tools of the trade and get their hands dirty digging for dinosaur bones. They use tools that teach them how to excavate a site. There are plenty for each child to work with. I could tell by the harmony and diligent attitudes of each little paleontologist that this activity was mesmerizing. It isn't just digging in the sand. The kids loved it. A perfect place to break away from the busyness and let the kids free play while you relax a bit. There are benches around the area for adults. Overall, stepping into Dinosaur Alive was like stepping into a time machine and taking a mini trip from your day at the park.

Another successful family day at Cedar Point!

We came. We rode. We hugged Snoopy. We saw dinosaurs. We only had one regret; we made it only a day trip. We learned our lesson...next time it will be a weekend.

Because if you don't make it a weekend...you may miss the beach. This was from last year...and this year we were so busy and had so much fun we missed it. Don't miss the beach. Have it all and make a weekend out of it.

 


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Richele McFarlin, author of Under the Golden Apple Tree, and founder of Moms of Dyslexics, enjoys a good cup of coffee as she demonstrates her ability to wrestle HTML to the ground and write from the heart.

Homeschooling isn't About You
























Homeschooling isn't About You

Some dreamed of the day they would homeschool their kids and some, like me, fell into it and never wanted to look back.  Either way, there comes a point when sit down to make our plans for the year.  We spend hours picking out the perfect curriculum and organizing the perfect schedule to fit our perfect homeschool. We would never admit it but while rational thought tells us nothing is perfect out secret dreams are of a perfect homeschool year.  We don't shoot for the moon because missing means landing on the stars;  we shoot for the moon expecting to land smack dab on the moon.  

Then it happens. 

The point when landing on the stars would be preferable over burning through the atmosphere and landing at the bottom of the ocean.  Our day failed.  Our plans failed.  We failed.  

But we didn't fail for the reason we think.  We didn't fail because we had a bad plan.  We didn't fail because we have bad kids.  We didn't fail because we are bad homeschooling moms.  We failed to make our homeschooling an offering.  We failed to give ourselves and our kids grace.  We failed to focus on the purpose we homeschool to begin with.  

Homeschooling can easily become a source of pride for the homeschool teacher.  The perception of a successful homeschool mom is akin to superhero status.  Our kids express themselves intelligently, creatively, and always with proper manners.  We hear, "You amaze me.  I could never do that!" or "Please help me, I need to learn the homeschool ropes."  We want for the perception to somehow morph into truth.  We want the gold medal.  We want to stand back and say, "I raised that child...you know the one that just cured cancer."  

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. ~Proverbs 16:18

Once plummeted to the ground there is no where left to go but up, and since up would be too easy, we stay there awhile.  We nurse our pride and seek out affirmation.  Once our pride is healthy enough we find those that will tell us we are amazing homeschooling moms.  Pride feels better and awaits the next fall.

Are you telling me there are no hard days?  

No, I am not. As with any of life's endeavors trials follow. Managing a homeschool day comes with many challenges. We love our children and desire to provide them the best homeschooling has to offer. The successes and struggles of our children are felt within our bones.  Homeschooling resides in our hearts.  

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?~Jeremiah 17:9

The other day my husband endured 20 minutes of me telling him things like how my son scored not only above average but Olympic gold medal above average on the standardized tests and I didn't even teach to the test nor did I know what was on it. I explained how I managed my homeschool through a perfect balance of independent thought and teacher interaction.  I managed to pry an essay out of a child who hated to write.  I managed to get my dyslexic child to read simple sentences.  I managed to train up a daughter who is now #1 in her high school class and rocking the world of robotics.  Look at what I did!  Who can tell me homeschooling is not more effective than your systems;  moreover systems I refuse to bow down to. While schools keep grades, I keep my kids challenged and hitting goals.  No child of mine gets out of class before mastery.  I expressed my frustration that two of my children seemed to respond to curriculum that hardly required my amazing teaching skills and I wasn't having it.  That is simply cheating, right?

Oh yes, when I get fired up, I get fired up. (And perhaps some of that is riddled with hindsight as I would never say I was amazing...just making sure we are on the same page here...I am not that insane.)

When my speech, pitch, self love, whatever you want to call it, was finally over I expected praise perhaps even an invitation to dinner out.  I looked at him expecting him to build me a bigger soapbox.  After all, I proved that homeschooling can be successful.  Get this woman a speaking engagement!  He looked at me puzzled and simply said, "This isn't about you."

I plummeted and broke my pride.

He asked me my purpose in homeschooling.  He reminded me that my love for teaching the individual did not only apply to those individuals who respond to how I like to teach.  He instructed me to teach for their profit, moreover so they can live for Christ. Homeschooling is not about proving homeschooling works as that is mere distraction from its purpose.  It wasn't just about successes but the struggles.  A child didn't need to amaze crowds of millions with intellect to prove I was doing my duty as his mom and teacher.

I stood and dusted off the pieces of pride.  Vowing to leave them there, I felt immense pressure lift from my shoulders.  The measure of my success as a homeschooling mom was not in direct correlation to how many grades levels ahead my child was in school.  I could dismantle my soapbox.  I had nothing to prove to another homeschooler, anti-homeschooler, or school system on the merits of what I felt convicted to do.

Do you feel pride emerging in your homeschool? 





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Richele McFarlin, author of Under the Golden Apple Tree, and founder of Moms of Dyslexics, enjoys a good cup of coffee as she demonstrates her ability to wrestle HTML to the ground and write from the heart.

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Don't take my word for it...

My friend, Richele, has really hit this one out of the ballpark. I've used PicMonkey for more than a year now, last year I invested in the Royale version and I use it every single time I sit down to blog. And now, thanks to Richele, I am learning quite a few more tricks that I can try with this photo editing online site. If you are a blogger and are not using PicMonkey {or even if you are!} this ebook is definitely for you!  
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Nearly every day bloggers everywhere are asking themselves this question, "How can I make those awesome images I see on Pinterest?" I frequently tell them how user-friendly PicMonkey is for this purpose, but rarely have time to step them through all of the neat tips and tricks it has to offer. In fact, there are some that I didn't even know existed myself, even though I consider myself to be pretty PicMonkey savvy. I'm excited to have learned even more fun ways to make images more appealing with Monkey See, Monkey Do, and now I can simply refer others to Richele's book so they, too, can have stand-out images!  
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Richele McFarlin, author of Under the Golden Apple Tree, and founder of Moms of Dyslexics, enjoys a good cup of coffee as she demonstrates her ability to wrestle HTML to the ground and write from the heart.