Over the last month, I've discovered what I presumed to be true. My child has dyslexia. My blog is dedicated to these wonderfully different learners. I marvel at their creativity, out of the box thinking and their infectious need for humor. This is a journey of our discovery process and our journey homeschooling with what works. I hope you will find encouragement along with helpful advice in teaching your right brain learner in this left brain world.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Before the Holidays, I was excited to hear about an opportunity to try an online interactive curriculum. I had been looking for something that my children could do independently while I was working with another child. Teaching children with dyslexia can be very labor intensive, and I needed a way to keep the distractions from my other two children at a minimum. The generous people at Time4Learning allowed me to use their curriculum for free for one month, and in return, I agreed to write a review of our experience with their curriculum.

Time4Learning uses animated lessons to teach language arts, math, social studies and science. Kids are able to learn at their own pace, and parents are able to take advantage of their automated grading, lesson plans and detailed reporting.

What worked for us

Time for learning was easy to use
It kept my children engaged
The material was interesting
It kept distractions to a minimum while I was working one on one with another child.

What didn't work for us

My children are dyslexic, so I couldn't take advantage of the Language Arts portion.
The only portion we were able to use was the Science portion, and we would be able to go through it within a month or two.

Although I love Time4Learning's interactive format, it could never take the place of a loving parent teaching their child. However, I do think Time4Learning is an awesome supplement for Homeschoolers or for parents who want to keep their children engaged during the weekends, Holidays or summer months. If you are a new homeschooling parent, Time4Learning would be a great place to start while you research all your homeschooling options. For your free trial visit Time4Learning

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Praises for Singapore Math

Perhaps you've heard the buzz about children in Singapore producing some of the highest math scores in the world. Where did this originate? In 1995, eighth-graders in the tiny nation of Singapore finished first in the Third International Math and Science Study (TIMSS). In 1999 they repeated the feat. In contrast, the U.S. finished in the middle of the pack both times. What is their secret? Why are children in Singapore performing so well on math tests. I believe there are several factors involved, such as age appropriate material, their effective and thorough training of teachers, and mainly, their method of teaching math.

The Singaporean method follows a sequential approach of concrete, pictorial and finally abstract. For example, today we were talking about which two numbers together equal 8. I drew a green tree on one side of the paper and then a brown tree on the other side of the paper. I gave my son 8 raisins and asked him to place them on the trees. Then I asked, "how many raisins are on the green tree? How many raisins are on the brown tree?" We kept doing this until we exhausted all the possible number combinations. I wrote each number combination on a white board. After that, we looked at his math text book, and it had a picture of eight bunnies. We told each other number stories about the bunnies. For example, three bunnies where above the ground and five bunnies were under ground. After that he did the exercise in his workbook. The exercise went as follows: Mr. Eight knocked down two pins in each set. The numbers on the two pins should make 8. Color them. He's presented with a set of pins that have the numbers 6,3,5,1 and 8. He had to figure out which two made eight. Now remember, he's already seen it with the raisins on the trees and the pictures of the bunnies. Even if he gets it wrong, he quickly corrects himself.

Now, if you have a child with dyslexia, maybe you've been told it is very difficult to teach them by rote memorization. Rote memorization just doesn't stick with them, so a lot of these children struggle to learn their math facts. I was told to teach Big Brother using "Touch Math" which places dots on the numbers to reduce the need for memorization, but I haven't had to resort to that yet, because he is remembering his math facts through this type of teaching. Also, he is enjoying math.

Maybe you're a homeschooling mom and starting to feel some anxiety, because you aren't using Singapore math, or maybe you tried and it didn't work for you. My advice is to stick with what works for your child. But, if you have a struggling child, which is also very visual, you might want to look into Singapore math. It's working for us, and I can't be more pleased.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Claw

Wow, that was a long time away. We had a wonderful Christmas, and it seems the break did us all good. We focused on joy during the Holidays, with lots of crafts, decorating, cooking and some really fun fieldtrips.

Here we are mid January, and we are fully back in the swing of things. I've been doing some research on dysgraphia (also known as a visual-motor integration problem, people with dyslexia often have poor, nearly illegible handwriting and often have an unusal pencil grip, often with the thumb on top of the fingers) and asking some questions on messages boards, but nobody can really give me a good answer as to why it is better to change a child's pencil grip to the tripod grip. My husband had asked me in the past not to change Big Brother's grip, so I ignored his somewhat strange grip for awhile. I thought after the break, maybe we could just try getting him to do the tripod grip through the pinch technique, and to my surprise, he was a lot more receptive to it, but I could see he was still struggling, and it was frustrating for both of us. Thankfully, someone suggested the "writing claw". It's a device that allows the fingers to hold the pencil in the correct position while writing. In the past, I shied away from those. To me, they looked like some type of torture device, but I went against what I thought was my better judgment and ordered one. When it arrived, the kids were so excited that they got something in the mail, that they immediately started playing with them. I showed Big Brother where to put his fingers and how to position the pencil. He ran and got some paper and I saw him sitting at his table writing with it, and immediately he looked up at me and shrieked, "I love it". What? I thought I would pass out. So all those battles in the early days about his pencil grip could have been avoided. I love this thing too! Anything to make our lives less frustrating. Here is the link to their site. The Writing Claw