One of the hardest things for me when teaching my daughter is the huge ability gap between different subjects, or even within a subject.
For example, she reads on at least a 3rd grade level. It’s likely higher, but I haven’t ventured any higher because it’s hard enough finding age appropriate content in a chapter book. Thankfully, she still loves to read “easier” things like Dr. Seuss, and various picture books – but she blows through them in seconds. She taught herself, and I can’t explain it. I’m super proud of her, I just wish I knew the secret.
Her phonics and spelling ability are more on age level, which can be a challenge in relation to the reading. She can read difficult words, but not sound them out or attempt to spell them. She can read the word on paper, and she knows the sounds the letters make, but she can’t always *hear* them when trying to sound out a word to spell it.
This makes it hard to find a specific homeschooling curriculum for Language Arts. She still needs to learn the Kindergarten phonics rules, but the readers that some curriculums use are way too easy for her. Last year I tried to buy up a couple levels for one curriculum so that the readers (for the child to read) would be more on her level. However, what I failed to consider was that the rest of the language art lessons were then much too advanced for her – especially the copywork. Some of the days had several sentences that they were supposed to copy.
We are still working on writing capital letters correctly.
Handwriting, is incredibly hard for Lovebug. Her gross and fine motor skills are delayed so it’s physically difficult for her. She’s also a perfectionist, so it’s emotionally hard on her as I correct her hand position or remind her to start her letters at the top. Today we were working on the letter A, and she traced the capital & lowercase version 5 times each. After that, she was to color a picture of an alligator. Normally, the coloring is relaxing for her & she loves it, but today it was extremely stressful. Her fingers were tired from the letter tracing, her mind was tired from agonizing over her mistakes, and she was practically in tears trying to think about what color she wanted to color the alligator. She said “I just can’t figure out where to start!”
It’s like her brain just says “I quit! I’m not thinking any more!”.
I use the Handwriting Without Tears program and LOVE it! It is a program created by an Occupational Therapist and uses a multi-sensory approach to writing. It’s awesome for her and is definitely helping. It’s just that when we take a break (like over the holidays), any ground we’ve gained…we lose. I guess I need to stop taking breaks. We are using the Preschool workbook right now, and once we are done with that we’ll move on to the Kindergarten book – even if she’s in 1st or 2nd grade. I told her I don’t care how long it takes her, I will keep working with her until she gets it.
I changed one thing this year over last year that has helped minimize both my stress and my daughter’s. When I am teaching handwriting, we spend 10-20 minutes on it and I correct her hand position, letter formation or pencil grip as needed. Once the handwriting lessons are over, I’m done correcting. If she wants to write a card for Daddy, or copy words from a book, or write in her adventure journal – she can do it freely. This used to bother me because I felt like if she keeps practicing it wrong, it will be that much harder to teach her the right way. However, that backfires too because if I spend so much time correcting her, she feels like a failure and hates writing completely.
I’ve noticed this year that she has many times initiated writing on her own. She’s written a story, added words to a poster, and several other things that she would have never done if she had expected me to correct her every move. This way, I can encourage her to enjoy writing, while also spending an appropriate amount of time each week teaching her how to do it correctly.
We’ll get there. Eventually. Then, she’ll learn to type and never handwrite anything again.
What have you found that works for you? Or doesn’t work?