Ask Dr. Silver
The following are past questions and answers from Dr. Larry Silver on this topic.
How can I help my homeschooled daughter who has trouble with comprehension?
My daughter is in sixth grade. She had attended public school since kindergarten and had begun to have falling grades in fourth and fifth grades. We began homeschooling her this year and were shocked at her lack of comprehension skills. She forgets things as soon as she reads them. Even when I try to read assignments to her in an exciting way, she does not retain the information. Last week we did a whole unit on the Scientific Method in Science. This week the term was reintroduced and she acted as if she had never heard the term. I hate getting frustrated when I know this is not something she is doing intentionally. Is she ADD? She never acts hyperactive. She is very laid back and can concentrate on and remember TV shows and comic book stories. If she is ADD, I have no intention of medicating her. Is there a natural medicine or change in food or curriculum that can help her?
Yes, she can be helped. She needs a diagnosis. I bet that if your daughter had continuous headaches or stomachaches or any other physical problem you would have rushed to her doctor and perhaps seen as many specialists as you needed in order to help her. Why do you see disorders of the brain as different?
You describe what might be learning disabilities and you describe possible ADHD. Discuss each with your pediatrician. There are formal test to clarify if she has a learning disability. These studies can be done by your school professionals or by private professionals. Your family doctor should be able to assess for ADHD; and, if she has this disorder, treat it. Treatment would be based on what she has. Home schooling might give you a false sense of security because of the lack of the same expectations needed in school.
Please, have the right professionals make the right diagnoses. Then, design your interventions/treatments on the confirmed diagnoses. Disorders of the brain are just as debilitating as those of other body systems.
How can I help my dyslexic brother who is being homeschooled?
Hi. My little brother is almost 13 and was diagnosed with dyslexia a few months ago. He's homeschooled and has given up on anything that has to do with reading and writing. Our six-year-old little sister can read and write better than him. I'm worried and wondered what there is out there that I can do to help him?
You call it dyslexia. School systems call it learning disabilities. It is still the same problem. Your brother needs specific special education help if he is to overcome or compensate for his disabilities. The problem with home schooling is that most parents are not trained special education teachers and do not have the knowledge or skills to help remediate the problems. He must have skilled special education help if he is to improve with reading and writing. Show this answer to your mother and ask her to think about what I said.
When is homeschooling appropriate for a child with many special learning needs?
My six-year-old daughter is very bright. I am home schooling her. Last year she went to a private school for Kindergarten. She coasted through with all A's. I felt she could have done more, but I didn't push because after all, it's only kindergarten. When she asked for more work after school, I gave her work from a first grade workbook. By letting her move at her own pace, she is finishing 2-4 days of school work in one day.
The only thing she will not do for me is read. She says it is boring. I gave her an easier book. She struggled and couldn't read it. I gave her a simple chapter book with a picture on each page and she read two pages with barely any help. It was marked as a level 4 book. After two pages, she was done. I tried to get her to read more of it the next day and she said she couldn't.
In other areas, she is a well behaved little girl. She does not like to be corrected, and will frequently roll her eyes when she is. She has difficulties being distracted, and can rarely fulfill a two-part command. (In fact, my mildly autistic son can perform a two-part command better than she can!) If you tell her that something is behind her, she is likely to turn around in a full circle, look up at the ceiling and say she can't find it. I was wondering if she could have ADD. And I was also wondering if it is important to get a diagnosis for her, even though I do not intend to medicate.
I am hoping to find solutions that can help her individual problems--including finding a curriculum that best suits her needs. But am I doing the right thing by her?
Your desire to help your daughter progress at her own rate of growth rather than the curriculum offered by a general education program is fine. However, I hear several other themes that concern me.
First, she appears to be struggling with reading. Reading is not a skill a student learns on their own. It needs to be taught by someone who knows how to teach reading. Is she behind because of your teaching or because she might have a potential problem with reading or because of some other factor. You need to clarify this question before you can decide how best to help her with her reading.
Second, you question if she might have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. As possible evidence you note that she can be distracted and she "rarely fulfills a two-part command." May I urge you to stop trying to be everything to her. If you do not have a degree in elementary school education; if you do not have a degree in speech-language therapy; if you do not have a professional degree in psychology or medicine, I urge you to see the advise of these individuals. Does she have a reading disability? Find out. Does she have a language disability? Find out. Does she have ADHD? Find out.
For your daughter's sake, love her, help her. But agree that you may not be able to answer all of the questions you ask.
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