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,