Archive for the ‘dyslexia’ Category

More thoughts on math.

February 9, 2010

After my last post about the way that Kiddo and Dearie do math, I thought a lot about the way Honey’s math works.  Honey is using Right Start mathematics.  It is a program based on Asian Math and really focuses on teaching the kids to THINK.  It is very similar to Singapore Math in the way that numbers are taken apart and put back together.  I really like that part.

Right Start Mathematics is very teacher-intensive.  The teacher has to teach every lesson, and there does not seem to be much that the child can do without the teacher.  (There are some worksheets and some practice sheets, but some of them require the teacher to read directions to the child as there are only blanks on the paper.)  I don’t mind the teacher involvement.

Everything about Right Start mathematics is laid out with exactly what to do each day.  This is the problem that I have with Right Start. 

There is a warm-up section to start each day.  I really looked at how the warm-up works, and they do cover most topics, but there is no customizing it for your child.  If they have been able to count by threes since they were 2, it is still listed in the book.  (The helpful people at Right Start will tell you to skip stuff that they know.  You don’t have to do all the warm-ups.)  The problem that I have been having is that Honey will do the warm-up problems, but it could take us 1/2 an hour just to get through them.  She needs practice with some of the concepts more often than is scheduled.

The next section is the activities section.  This is the meat of the program, and it is really good.  The only problem that I have with this section is that if you already know the material or if you catch on quickly, it is hard to move forward.  It is also very difficult to play “catch-up” if you miss a day or two.

The final section is the games section.  This is the drill that is built into the program.  You might play math war or a memory game to help learn those math facts.  I like this part of the program, but if you have already spent 30-45 min. on the warm-up and lesson, then you might be tempted to just skip it. 

So once again, I am out to tweak things.  I can never leave well enough alone, can I?  (This must be why I like Singapore and Miquion so well, I don’t have to tweak anything.)  I have decided to customize the warm-up section of the program.  I wrote out all of the warm-up problems (for 10 lessons) on note cards.  We will do one problem from the first few cards each day.  Then we will add in new cards when needed.  I think that I will use a timer for a while and keep the warm-up time to 5  min.  Then we will work on the activity section for 10-15 and that will leave 10-15 min. for game time.  I am going to look at each section as independent of the others.  If she ‘gets’ what we are doing, then we will go on to the activity section of the next lesson.  If she is having trouble, then we can stay with that topic until she does ‘get’ it.  We will do the same for the games.  Not every lesson has games listed, but some have several games listed.  We will play the games for the amount of time that we have.  I am not going to try to keep the warm-up/activities/games on the same lesson.  This fits my way of thinking, and I don’t think that it will bother Honey at all.  If I do it right, then she won’t even know what I have done.  They say that a program has to fit both the teacher and the child.  This is so true.  We have found several programs that work for me that don’t work for Honey.  We have also found several programs that work for Honey but not for me.  It is the “do ABC on day 1 and DEF on day 2…’ that really bugs me.  I don’t know why, but it does.  I guess that it is a good thing to have figured out about me, it will help me in future purchases.

A new reading game

February 7, 2010

For reading right now, Honey is using a spelling program.  I know it sounds weird, but All About Spelling does a great job of teaching the phonics rules.  I have Honey read the spelling words as well as spell them and her reading is really improving.  I would guess that she is getting close to grade level in reading. 

Honey finished All About Spelling level 1 at the end of January.  I gave her a week off from spelling and we have been playing spelling games during that week.  She came up with a really fun one on Thurs.  We used an old cribbage board and the stack of cards with spelling words on them that came with All About Spelling.  Each turn one of us would pick a card and read the word.  Then we had to say all the sounds in the word.  The other person would count how many sounds the word had and that would determine how many moves could be made.  [Hat has three sounds, move three spaces.   Trash has four sounds, move four spaces.]  To make the game more interesting we also used the middle track on the cribbage board.  If a player’s piece landed next to a line then they would move the middle piece one space forward.  If a player wanted to they could move the middle piece instead of their own piece.  If the middle piece landed next to a line then the player gets to move their own piece five places.  I know that it sounds complicated, but it really made the game a lot more interesting.  I also know that saying the sounds of words does not sound like it would help much, but it is something that is hard for Honey. 

After the game, Honey read to me from the new reader that we got from All About Spelling.  Sounding out the words seemed more natural after we had just spent so much time practicing it during the game.  This is a game that we WILL be playing again!

Can I do Math?

April 16, 2009

Yesterday afternoon Honey came up to me and said, “Can I do math Mom?”  I looked at her and said, “Why?”  I mean, this was Honey after all.  She has NEVER asked to do math before.  Cry, run away, refuse to do it, yes she has done those, but never ask to do math with a smile on her face.  She just asked again, “Can I?”  I said, “No chocolate chips!”  (Yes, I have been known to bribe her to do math, sigh.)  She said, “That’s OK.  Can I?”  I kept pushing and it finally came out.  When she does a test in her math book, (about once ever two weeks if she does a math lesson a day) she gets a prize, and she really wanted her prize.  So I said, “OK”  and she did a lesson before dinner (took her less than ten min.) and did the test after dinner.  She did a total of 3 1/2 lessons and the test yesterday.  (She did a lot during math time too.)   This is how math is supposed to be, easy and fun! 

This is really making me re-think what curriculum to use for next year.  Horizon’s (what she is using now) is back on the table.  Now the section that she is working on now, is doing a lot of “fun” topics: fractions, time, place value, and shapes.  She has not had any drilling of the math facts in this section.  (I’m sure that it will be back.)  I think that this is why she is suddenly interested in math.   It does not mean that I have suddenly changed my mind.  It does mean that I won’t be buying any curriculum for Honey at the homeschool convention.  I will look, I will see what is available, but I won’t buy until she finishes this year and I see how the rest of the year goes.  If I don’t have to switch, I won’t.  Horizon’s is a good program, and I truly believe in not fixing what is not broken.

New Math Games

April 8, 2009

Honey is working on subtraction now.  It is not hard for her unless you ask her to write it down.  I “know” that she will willingly do subtraction problems as long as there is no paper and pencil involved, but I don’t really understand it.  So anyway, we are both getting tired of Chutes and Ladders, so we practiced by playing bingo.  I wrote the numbers 1-12 on a grid and you could cover up a number whenever you rolled that number.  (Roll a 12 sided die and a 10 sided die and subtract.)  It went well and she is memorizing some facts.

The next game we played was a little more inventive and a lot more fun.  We used attribute blocks (pattern blocks would work too) and 2 die (20 sided and 10 sided).  It is hard to give rules, so I will just walk you through a game.

First we rolled the dice.  Say Honey got a 12 and 2.  She subtracted 2 from 12 and got 10.  Then she had to choose enough blocks so that she had a total of 10 sides.  (1 square – 4 sides, 1 triangle – 3 sides, and 3 circles – 1 side each)  We used the blocks to make a picture.  Each roll gives more blocks for your picture.  There really is no winner to this game, but it was fun. 


Games make math doable for Honey.  Without them there is nothing but tears.  She is doing more of her workbook now, but only if someone else does the writing.

Practice with adding double digit numbers.

March 16, 2009

We played a new math game today.  Honey’s math book has been reviewing double digit addition, but she hates to write it down in the book.  So today, I pulled out the dice and the white board and the base 10 blocks and started a new game.  This game reviewed place value and addition.

To play, I found 2 dice that would only add up to 9 if each die rolled the largest number.  This was a 4 sided die, and 6 sided die with the numbers 2,3,3,4,4, and 5 printed on it.  I am still using only dice with printed numbers, I want to focus on addition not counting dots.  Then I found two 6 sided dice with the numbers 1-6 on them.  All of the dice look a little different (one blue, one green, one small white, one large white).   I drew blanks on the white board to represent a double digit addition problem and rolled the dice.  Each die was assigned a blank (so that the ones place could only get up to a 9, we have not started regrouping or carrying yet) and I worked the addition problem.  Then I took that number of base ten blocks and added it to my pile.  The first player to get the thousand block, wins.

Of course we ran out of base ten blocks about halfway through (there are only ten 100 flats), but we just pulled out the cuisenaire rods and kept playing.  Honey won, of course.  She had no problem working the problems, so I won’t make her do the ones in the book.

I’m glad you’re teaching me.

March 11, 2009

The last couple of reading lessons have been rather hard on Honey.  She gets frustrated and wants to quit.  We have moved from the more “game” type of lessons to more traditional lessons.  There is still a lot of hands on, moving letters around, but we are at the edge of her understanding and it is hard for her.  Yesterday, through tears, she told me, “I’m glad you’re teaching me.”   WOW!  Sure its hard, but it is worth doing, and I think that she gets that.

I really think that in the long run, these difficulties are a benefit for Honey.  She is learning how to work hard; how to do hard things.  Things come so easy to the other girls that they have never really had to struggle through the desire to quit.  (Dearie has had some of this with piano, which is why we do piano, but not to the extent that Honey does.)  I think it is a life skill that will help Honey all her life.

Favorite numbers

March 5, 2009

Today I was doing math with Honey while Dearie was in the room.  I was reading numbers to Honey and she was writing them down.  (There are still several numbers that are a challenge to her, especially the teens.)  So I am reading the numbers:




When I hear, “That’s my favorite number.  Well, actually negative eighteen is my favorite.”


So then I did an inventory of everyone’s favorite numbers.

Dearie: -18

Honey: 14

Kiddo: 5

Well, at least Kiddo has an ordinary favorite number.

Over teaching.

February 26, 2009

This is what it is called when you teach a concept that a child has already learned.  Two years ago, I would have thought that it was a crazy concept.  That it was a total waste of time.  If a child ‘gets’ a subject, why do you have to keep going over it.  I chose curriculumthat covered topics in depth and then went on to the next topic.  Going over and over something only bores the child. 

…And then I started teaching child number two.  Yes there are children who do not need much review.  I have one two.  There are also children who get the concept the first time you present it, but not the details.  I have one of those too.  I suppose that there are also children who need multiple presentations to get the concept and then more to get the details.  I don’t have one of those. 

This revelation has given me a new respect for classroom teachers.  They have all kinds of kids in their classes.  How in the world do they teach them all without boring some and going right over the heads of others?  All of my kids get one on one time, I can’t even imagine how a classroom teacher does it. 

The latest example of this, in our home, is in teaching reading.  I thought that Honey knew the sounds of /ch/ and /sh/ and /th/.  I found that she didn’t, so I taught them to her and made a game to help her review them.  (The game from a couple of posts ago.)  She was doing well, and then we took a break for the weekend and she forgot which letters made which sounds.  She understands that there are three different sounds and that they are represented by three different combinations of letters (the concept), but she can’t remember which is which (the details).  Just today, she seemed to have them down again, but we are taking a three day weekend, and I’m afraid that she will forget by the time we get back to it.  Maybe I will play our game on Saturday so that the break is not so long.  So, I am over teaching this concept.  I will teach it and review it and go over it until she has it down cold.  We did this with math facts and with memory verses and it worked well, it will work this time too.  I just need to learn some patience.

I broke the pencil!

February 24, 2009

I took the pencil right out of Honey’s hands and broke it in half.  She likes to hold her pencil about 4 inches from the point.  With the pencil broken, it is only about 4 inches long.  She has no choice but to hold it closer to the point.  Sometimes the solution is drastic, but oh so simple!  (I did put pencil topper erasers on the top of each piece, so they look like regular short pencils.)

New Reading Game.

February 17, 2009

Edited to add pictures, scroll down.

As we work through the Reading Reflex book, we have hit the place where Honey is learning instead of reviewing.  She does not know what sound <sh> makes.  She does not know what letters represent the /sh/ sound.  Sh is good at guessing, but she does not really KNOW it.  So it is time to bring in more games.  Reading Reflex recommends introducing one sound at a time so this game will work on the new /sh/ sound and review the vowel sounds (I think that she still mixes them up sometimes). 

(My goal is to make this today, this is how I plan to make it.)

First I will draw a game board with 50-80 spaces on it.  Then I will print out small horse pictures (Enchanted learning is a good place to find little pictures.)  and glue them on the game board.  While the game board is still blank, I will cover it with clear contact paper (similar to laminating it).  Then I will fill in the spaces with the vowels and sh with a wet-erase (visa-vis/overhead) marker.  These do not smear or smell like dry erase markers do.  This way, when she gets this sound down, I can erase the board and put new sounds on it.  I have several blank dice, and I will write the vowels and sh and maybe a ‘go double’ on one. (Again using the wet erase marker.)   Each player will roll the die, and move their piece (I’m going to snag some horses from our manipulatives.  Honey is really into horses right now.)  to the next space that matches the die.  A roll of go double, means to roll again and move your piece to the second matching space.  With each roll, the player has to say the sound on the die, this is where the learning occurs, the game just keeps it fun.

I will post pictures after I have finished the game.  We have a busy day planned today, but I hope to find time to make this game and to play it with Honey.  I don’t think that I will let the other girls play.  Kiddo has these sounds down, and Honey does not need to be reminded of that.


Edited to Add pictures:


Honey decided to help with the making of the game board, so it has a lot more color than I would have done.  I don’t care a lot about how it looks as long as it works, Honey is the opposite.   After drawing the board, I added a river and grass and colored the path brown.  Honey used her horse stamps at the START and FINISH.

We have played it several times and I kept winning, even when I gave Honey a head start!  I guess that learning to lose with a good attitude can be added to our lessons for the day.  She did have some trouble with the /sh/ sound, but after several games was doing better.  It will be interesting to see how she does when we introduce /ch/.

Guess what Honey can do!

February 11, 2009

Yesterday, Honey and Dora were out riding their bikes in the court.  Honey came in and asked if she could ride out of the circle like Dora, I told her what I have told her before, “When you can ride without training wheels.”  She said, “Take off my training wheels!”  I didn’t have time then, but this morning I took them off for her.  Within 10 min. she was riding pretty well.  Now she is allowed to ride up to the next street.  (I can still see them by looking out the window.)  I am not surprised that Honey is doing so well, she has always seemed a natural at outdoor things.  (She isn’t always, but more often than not.)  She was just glowing with her success, but it quickly wore off when she came in and had to do her reading lesson.  It is hard, because she needs practice at this level, but she knows that it should be easy and she doesn’t want to work hard at something that should be easy.  I pushed though her desire to quit today, but it was hard.  I hope that she advances quickly.  It is not until they can read fun stuff that reading is fun and she is just not there yet.  Maybe I need to look into some Hi-Low readers.  They are designed to be an easy read about a subject that older kids would be interested in.  But, she is not really ready for readers yet, I don’t want to introduce any new sight words right now.  It would just give her more reason to try to memorize words rather than read the sounds that they make. 

The other fun thing that the girls did today was to play in the rain.  Honey was very disappointed that she couldn’t ride her bike this afternoon, but playing in the rain made up for some of that disappointment.

My review of Reading Reflex.

January 30, 2009

Reading Reflex is the book that I have decided to use with helping Honey to read.  She can read at about a mid-first grade level according to our lovely school system (note the dripping sarcasm here).  The main problem is that she has plateaued.  She is not advancing much, and it is obvious that she is trying to memorize the shape of the words instead of reading the sounds.  So with this in mind, I started reading Reading Reflex.

The first chapter starts out with the history of reading instruction.  It explains the differences between “whole language” and “phonics” and how they are often combined.  Then it talks about how kids learn to read and a little about their system for teaching reading. 

Chapter two talks about how to implement the following chapters and how to teach their system.  It was rather boring, but it included some needed information, so it is a must read.   At the end of the chapter is a test to give the child  to see what problems they are having.  This was very enlightening to me.  Some of the test were the same as what the school gave Honey.   The first test has you sounding out words for your child to see if they can hear the word from the sounds.  I thought that Honey would do great on this one, and she did on the three and four sound words, but missed some of the five sound words.  The next test had Honey telling me the sounds in words.  This one the school gave her.  They said she did fine on it (low side of normal, but normal none the less).  She did fine on the three sound words, but missed every four sound word.  I’m starting to see a pattern here.  She did the same thing on the final test, got the three sound words and missed the four sound words.  After this chapter, I could see where Honey needed work.  There was also a test that showed how many letter sound Honey knew.  I was surprised at how many she did not know. 

Chapter three includes lesson plans for teaching letter sounds and reading three sound words.  I started this chapter with Honey this week.  She really does not need most of the lessons, but it is good review, teaches us both how to use this system, and it filled in a few holes that I did not know were there.  For instance, Honey was using letter tiles to make words.  Then I would give her a new word and have her change the old one to make the new one.  (Bug to Dug)  She did fine with this, but when I asked her to change Dug to Dig she made Dui.  I had her read the sounds and she changed it to Dig, but she made this mistake several times.  Today, we reviewed this and she made no mistakes.

Sometime next week, we will start chapter four.  Chapter four is four sound words.  I expect that we will spend a lot longer on chapter four than on chapter three.  Hopefully this is where we will make a lot of progress.  Hopefully this is where we see a light bulb go on in Honey’s head.  I am looking forward to chapter four. 

Chapter five focuses on sounds that are represented by two or more letters.  I expect this chapter to be one that helps Honey a lot too.  I can’t wait to get there. 

Chapter six talks about multi-syllable words.  I have not read this chapter yet, and I have heard (and from skimming the chapter, it looks like this is true)  that the format is somewhat different than the earlier chapters.  I am willing to work with it, if need be, to make it work. 

The main thing that this book has helped with is that it breaks reading into its sub-skills.  It tells you what the sub-skills are so that you can teach them.  For some reason, I was not able to figure this out by myself.  I have no problem figuring out the sub-skills of math, breaking it down and putting it back together.  I have done a lot of this in the past few weeks, and I am beginning to see results.  Now that I know how to do this with reading, I expect to see some improvement in a few weeks too.  The other thing I have learned, is how to measure these sub-skills.  When I have Honey read to me, I can see that there are problems.  She can’t read words that I think that she should be able to read, but I don’t know why.  Until I read this book, I couldn’t see the sub-skills that were missing.  Now it is clear.  Now I have hope.

ETA (March 2010): I posted this a year ago, and Honey has made great progress.  In Aug. (2009) I started her with Level 1 of All About Spelling.  It is a spelling program, but I am using it as a reading program.  I have her practice reading each word as well as spelling each word.  It is interesting to look back at this post because she still struggles with hearing and blending words with many sounds.  (She can do 4 sound words pretty well, but still has trouble with 5 and 6 sound words.)

Evaluation Weekend

January 26, 2009

This weekend turned out to be evaluation weekend for us.  Honey had her thing at the school on Friday morning, and Dearie took the Explore test on Sat. morning.  So here are my thought on what I have found out so far.

Honey:  The lady at the school said that she was right on target for first grade.  She said that she just needs more practice reading.  To become a good reader, you have to read A LOT.  I think that she took one look at the math scores on Honey’s standardized test from last year (very high score) and decided that I was a pushy parent.  She did admit that the reading score was very low compared to the other scores, but that it was still in the normal range.  She had never heard of twice exceptional children.  Let me say that again; she did not know what the term was.  If Honey is twice exceptional, and you know that I think that she is, how can a professional who does not know what twice exceptional is help a twice exceptional child?  Honey’s score may be in the normal range, but it is NOT normal for her.  Normal for her would be very high.  (Not trying to brag here, just stating the facts.)  If her math and other scores were in the “normal” range, and her reading score was in the failing range, then they would have seen the problem.  Can you see what I’m getting at here?

I did not tell her that Honey has been sounding out words for three years now, I didn’t think of it at the time.  I did not tell her that Honey has had a ton of practice reading and that it is not helping.  Anyway,  I don’t think that we will be getting any help from this angle.  I am researching ways of teaching reading and have switched Honey’s curriculum (again).  I am going with one that is designed for dyslexics.  If she is dyslexic it will help, if she is not, it won’t hurt.  I am sure that this kid can learn to read and I’m not going to give up until she is reading well!

Dearie’s test was Sat. morning.  It went well.  There was a whole classroom full of little third graders taking this eighth grade test.  She said that she guessed on a lot of the questions, but the idea of the test is that she won’t be able to get everything right (unlike other tests).  Now comes the hardest part: waiting 4-6 weeks for the results!

Some things that I am learning about twice exceptional kids.

January 23, 2009

Twice exceptional.  2E.  That’s what kids who are gifted and have a learning disability are called.  I know all about gifted kids.  Dearie is a gifted kid.  It has been a challenge to raise and educate her, but she reminds me a lot of me and that makes it easier.  I am beginning to think that Honey is 2E.  She is very smart, but sometimes she just doesn’t ‘get’ stuff.  Today we were playing a math game.  We were playing with 3 dice that have numbers up to 6 on them, and she had to add up the three numbers to find out how far to move.  Several times she rolled numbers that worked out to 3+4.  After about 3 or 4 of these rolls, she started answering them with out figuring out the answer.  I thought to myself that she was getting this fact down.  Cool!  Then her sisters came over and wanted to play.  That sounded like fun to everyone, so they joined us.  3+4 came up again  and she was clueless.  I suspect it was the chaos that comes from having 3 kids playing a crazy board game.  She seems to need a lot of review to get these things down.

One of the things that I have just read about is how visual kids (Honey will tell you that she thinks in pictures) miss out on language practice because they think in pictures not words.  Kiddo thinks in words.  She often thinks outloud.  It can drive a person crazy!  But Honey doesn’t do this, so maybe she is not getting as much practice at language as a kid who thinks in words.  I do think that it helps that she has sisters to play and talk with.  It is not like she is a quiet child.

Another thing that was an Ahh Ha moment for me has to do with 2E kids.  Gifted kids often learn that everything academic is easy.  So much so that they really don’t learn how to learn.  This is why Dearie is in advanced classes.  I want her to have to work to learn (it isn’t really working though, learning is so easy for her).  2E kids on the other hand learn that if it doesn’t come easily, then they can just forget it. It will be too hard.  Everything is either too easy or too hard.  This describes Honey perfectly.  She has learned that if it doesn’t come easy that it is better to just give up.  Looking back I can see this in several areas.  In fact, I have encouraged it in some ways.  Learning is supposed to be easy.  It is for Dearie and Kiddo.  If it is not easy, then I would just wait awhile hoping that later it would come easily.  But some things, such as reading and memorizing math facts, have never been easy for Honey.  They probably never will be.  She will have to work hard in order to learn them.  She can do this, I am sure, but it won’t be easy.  On the other hand, I think that learning how to work hard to learn things is a life lesson worth learning.  I am trying hard to teach it to Dearie and Kiddo.  Honey will just learn it just from being who she is.

I am so glad that we homeschool.  We started homeschooling because I wanted Dearie to be challenged, not just skate through school.  And once we started, it was clear that homeschooling was a good fit for our family.  Homeschooling has turned out to be very good for Honey.  If she were in school, I but that she would be flying under the wire.  She is so good at making you think that she knows stuff that she doesn’t.  She can read books by looking at the pictures and guessing from the context.  It is really amazing how well she can do.  And yet, if you ask her to read a nonsense word, she has no clue.  If you ask her to read words out of context, forget it, she just can’t.   If she did not have one on one instruction, I’m not sure that her problems would have been caught so early.