Dyslexia + Waldorf

I wrote a post some time ago entitled,“Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia and Waldorf Homeschooling”   regarding working with the dyslexic child within the Waldorf homeschooling curriculum.  This first post was much longer, and there is a lot of information about movement and visual therapy and other things on this blog.  This post, today, is sort of the quick and dirty in terms of how many parents homeschooling with Waldorf feel.  Remember that dyslexia covers a wide range, and that it can “bleed” over into handwriting or math, some people use different terms for that as I did in the post linked above, but some people just term it all under an umbrella called “dyslexia”

In the post above, I mentioned that most homeschooling parents end up using a more structured reading and/or spelling resource that is outside of Waldorf because these children NEED and HAVE to have explicit instruction.  And, I stand by the point that part of teaching IS to provide this explicit instruction to all children.  Yes, some children learn to write, read, and spell from making up summaries.  But I would venture to say that most children need more than that unless they are a good organic writer. Our oldest was a good organic writer and I have had to work much harder with our other two children.   Most of the Waldorf curriculums do talk about the whole language approach, summary writing, using a combination of phonics, word families, sight words, and spelling rules.  Not all curriculums go into much detail about how to do this, however.

So, the  parts of teaching a child with moderate to severe dyslexia, to me, means several things in these stages:

The “something isn’t quite right” stage.  This may mean going forward with the idea that you are teaching to dyslexia or learning challenges without having had formal testing, or this may be the stage where your child has been tested and you have an official diagnosis.  This may also be the stage where other therapies are involved, such as visual therapy for visual convergence insufficiency, or occupational therapy to help with handwriting.    Resources for Waldorf homeschoolers may also include Extra Lesson Work, Eurythmy, working with an anthroposophic doctor and more. This stage usually for Waldorf children  is anywhere between Grades 2-4.  Hopefully with more Waldorf homeschoolers aware, we can start catching dyslexia earlier and providing the most effective help.

Intervention for direct reading, writing, and spelling instruction.  Waldorf families often add mainstream products to their homeschooling day, which means they are doing separate programs on top of a Main Lesson.  This is hard, and because the timetable in which children with dyslexia unfold, this can be years of extra instruction on top of main lessons, which takes a lot of time. Sometimes dyslexia really affects things like drawing or modeling or painting if handwriting is also affected, in which case some Waldorf homeschoolers feel like their children are missing the “best parts” of Waldorf homeschooling. One thing I want to say here, is not that art instruction isn’t a goal of Waldorf Education, but the ultimate goal is art as a spiritual activity, so keep heart!    More on that in a later post!  Unlike many mainstream homeschooling methods, we probably aren’t reaching for assistive technologies right off the bat due to the younger age of our students and our strong belief in bringing in technology at a later time for overall development.  We may, however, as a family, use some audio resources, and we continue to read aloud a lot as a family.

Looking for accommodations.  There may be a point of some catch-up, but as the workload increases in sixth grade and up, many families are hunting for reasonable accommodations even as they continue to work on reading, writing, spelling, comprehension.  It typically takes a child with dyslexia a longer time to learn to type, even though typing is most people’s answer to slow handwriting in the dyslexic child.  This great post talks about some of the tools for dyslexia, some of the new technology out there, and how to adjust those typing programs to be more effective!

I am in the journey with you, and am currently hunting for technological accommodations to try out in preparation for eighth grade and high school!  Will let you all know what we love.

Blessings and love,

6 thoughts on “Dyslexia + Waldorf

  1. I just finished the first round of Orton Gillingham training. I was blown away by how much in OG fits right into the Waldorf school, and how much of it is already done as part and parcel of Waldorf education. Going methodically through a deck of salmon and white cards with a child in a Waldorf setting would probably not raise too many eyebrows…make them more beautiful even if you like. Incorporate the rules into stories…etc… A lot of this is already done. I was amazed at how many times I wrote in my notes during training “in Waldorf schools”. As far as assistive technology is concerned, the best method of reading for many dyslexics, is via the ears. Just really latch onto those audiobooks and programs that will read any text aloud to the child. They are out there.

  2. The correct term would be a person with dyslexia rather than a dyslexic. This is because dyslexia does not define the entirety of the individual but rather thinking about it as a learning style is more helpful.

    There is some research which proposes dyslexia to be the next evolutionary movement forward to a more visual way of learning. I believe it is better to look at the positive benefits of having dyslexia which those who do not have it cannot do or do with difficulty.

    Such as those with dyslexia are more visually advanced, they are generally good a creative activities, painting, making and have good hand dexterity. I like to describe it as thinking in 3D rather than other brains which think in 2D, it means those with dyslexia can see all the way around something, it usually means they are good with problem solving and lateral thinking.

    I do not see why one would take out creative things like painting and music where those with dyslexia can really excel.

    Steiner believed in meeting the child where they are and the teacher focusing on the strengths of the child’s abilities rather than their weaknesses. There is nothing more disabling than banging on at something one may never get, it leads to fatigue in the parent and child and strips learning of it joy and excitement.

    Dyslexia is not a learning disability, it is an extra ability your child has – lucky you!

    • Hi Kerri! First of all, this is second in my posts about sharing this. The first post, linked in this post, is much more detailed and may have more of the flavor you are seeking. I appreciate your comments; this is the quick and dirty stages post for the big picture. Yes, children with dyslexia can and do excel in many areas, but sometimes the areas I mentioned in my post are the areas where homeschoolers feel bogged down. I did not say to take out art at all, I merely pointed out and maybe should have stated is that some children with dyslexia who also have dysgraphia do find the art end of it hard and not as enjoyable. I do really appreciate your input, and do go back and read the first linked post as it has a lot more background and substance to it. This is the in brief. 🙂 Thanks for being here – Blessings, Carrie

  3. I was just visiting the Bay School and they are using a computer program called Lexia invented by a father of son who had dyslexia. The educational support person said it was amazing at assessing reading habits.

  4. My partner is dyslexic and the tagline to my blog used to reflect that. Whilst I understand that dyslexia can be crippling for some, my partner uses humour to cope with it and I write about how his misinterpretations often cause mayhem and hilarity.

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