Sunday, 18 November 2012

My first day Flexi-Schooling and The Cross Word!

Last Friday I had my first full day flexi-schooling a child that was not my daughter. I have been given the privilege of being trusted by her parents (who are also funding the sessions) to take her out of the 'norm' of her School and try new methods in order to improve her access to education in the long term. I had her all day, and whilst I thought that a full day would offer her the best chance of rapid improvement; I was a bit nervous that it would be too full on...just me and her, would it be too much?...and what would we do for breaks with no other children around?

I needn't have worried, the day flew by and we achieved so much together. We worked on Toe by Toe and time enabled us to really get through some pages. Then we went on to identify the 1-100 most used words that may still be spelt wrongly. It is strange, unlike my daughter, this girl has fantastic handwriting (no fine motor skill issues here), and good spellings in general. But there are some fundamental mistakes, that unless corrected will stay with her always. Mostly, her issues are with homophones (words that are spelt differently, but sound the same), in this week's case 'there, their and they're', so it's not so much a spellings issue but 'what do I use when?' issue. We tried using 3D letters and writing in water on the deck, but a test showed she was still unsure, so next week we will be drawing, using acronyms and making the words with clay. And she will know when to use them before the day is out!

Another huge issue for her was telling the time. We had already worked on clocks, sorting the hour hand (0-12) from the minute hand (0-60), which took quite a while - 'look at the length of the hands, the long hand points to the minutes - the dial on the OUTSIDE of the clock, the short hand points to the hours - the dial on the INSIDE of the clock.' Then we had broken the clock down into the minutes, at first the 5-minute intervals (5x tables here), but that got her confused with the hours, so we counted them as individual minutes and she finally understood the concept of 60 minutes in an hour....BUT then I realised the problem, knowing that there are 60 minutes in an hour and 12 hours in a day & night is okay, BUT it does NOT help us tell someone the time! After all, we do not say '50 minutes past 2', we say '10 minutes to 3' - TOTALLY DIFFERENT! No wonder the poor kid was confused! So we halved the clock face & started to label the minutes in 5-minute intervals from the 12 down to the 6, so each half of the clock had 5,10,15,20,25,30 as the minutes. Now she started to see what to say....finally she could say 'ten minutes past 2' and 'twenty minutes to 3' (she understood that when the hand went past the half way mark we were 'to' the next hour. SHE COULD TELL THE TIME! Next week we will talk about quarter past, half past and quarter to...but I was over the moon, and my tutees mum said she was too when she got home that night.

We tried to do a bit of Touch-typing then, using English Type, a really good programme. My daughter always takes ages on each lesson, but is very accurate. This girl was the polar opposite! She stormed through the lesson at a rate of knots, (her method of coping with her dyslexia), and consequently had to re-take the lesson 3x as she was just too inaccurate. It was amazing to watch as she hammered at the wrong keys on the keyboard; as much as my daughter needed encouraging to even start for fear of making a mistake, this girl needed holding right back to avoid making too many! This programme will be fantastic for her - not only to learn keyboard skills, but also the pace in which she must work to avoid getting things wrong all the time. She does the same with her reading, and we are working on that too....they say people with dyslexia are all different...they sure are, and it fascinates me!

With regard break times, they were easy too...she drew pictures, and played with my 5 cats - she wants to be a vet, just like my daughter - I hope I can help them get there...

And now - The Cross Word

I have just heard my 5 year old son reading a 20 page Biff, Chip & Floppy Book from the Oxford Reading Tree. These books used to fill me with horror when my daughter bought them fact her mistakes when she read one one night gave me the title for a book I have written! The experience was painful to say the least, as she struggled with each letter, not able to put them into words, and not recognising the words even though they were repeated on every page. As for non-phonetically spelt words such as 'said,' and 'one,' there was no chance! And this went on to till Year 4 - aged 7, until I intervened with Toe by Toe. Tonight, my son, read a book, much more difficult than she could just a short while ago... easily...he did not struggle with the word 'said,' he sailed through every page and understood fully what he had read. He is bright, he is quick, he is competitive and wants to achieve...BUT he is NO brighter, NO quicker and NO better in the intelligence stakes than my daughter was at his age....he just has a natural ability to read symbols. Don't get me wrong, I am pleased and proud that my son can read, I celebrate his achievements, and am so relieved that he does not have the same issues as my daughter.... BUT.... I am hopping MAD that my daughter and I had to go through so much when it was SO, SO obvious that she had dyslexia. And I am HOPPING MAD that so many other children are going through the same experience as I write this. I was a Secondary level teacher with no knowledge about when or how a child was meant to read...however, the teachers at my daughter's school did have this knowledge. What the hell happened? How could they not see that this bright little girl should not be struggling with such a simple and innate ability? It is appalling what these children go through, when their issues are as plain as the nose on their faces. IF THEY CANNOT READ, THEY ARE NOT STUPID, THEY HAVE A GIFTED DYSLEXIC BRAIN - DEAL WITH IT TEACHERS - DON'T IGNORE IT! If you can't provide the specialist teaching they require, that is one thing, but at the very least put them and their parents out of their misery by telling them that you 'get it, it isn't their fault, and THEY ARE NOT STUPID.' I implore you......

1 comment:

  1. I am so very proud of you and our kids, the work that you are doing for our Lucia and all those wonderful children out there is fantastic and I could not agree more with your words. As you know I am an example of someone who went through the whole of my school life hiding from reading out load in class and covering up my dyslexia and for the most part not even knowing that was the issue. I can't believe that after all these years and all that we know about the subject, children are still going through school without ever being identified as having reading issues!!!! how hard is it to give all children an equal start in life and differentiate learning for all....