Q: We would like to homeschool our son for the coming school year, but I would have to be the teaching parent and I’m dyslexic. Is this unrealistic or a bad idea? What advice do you have?
A. Yes, it’s still possible to homeschool, but as you might have anticipated, you can have additional challenges.
Have we known parents who have successfully homeschooled their children even though they shared dyslexia? Yes. In fact we even know parents who pursued advanced degrees in higher education and developed their own curricula while also teaching their children. If there’s a will, there’s a way.
If you are now a fluent or semi-fluent reader, you can become your child’s teacher, but it would be best to choose a curriculum with good teacher supports, including video or phone resources.
In some instances, you may have an advantage in understanding what your child or children find difficult; but there may also be added challenges depending on whether you have persisting perceptual difficulties – like hearing certain quick sounds.
That said, over the years, we have known so many adult dyslexics who learned to become great teachers of their children – and then when their children were out and grown – developed successful practices tutoring others.
Many parents think they couldn’t possibly school their kids, but then are pleasantly surprised when lessons are short (for instance 20 minutes at a time) and well-planned out, the demands are not so impossible. Multisensory learning also involves a significant amount of student activity, so it’s not as if you have to figure out what to teach and be at a chalkboard several hours a day.
There may be other reasons why you don’t want to be the primary teaching parent for your children; sometimes it can introduce tension between you and your child, for instance, or some other reason. Often there is more worry about that happening, than the problem itself, though. Especially if students struggled at school, the work assigned at home is not nearly as bad.
Now when I think of all the obstacles confronting homeschooling your kids, I’m reminded of former neurosurgeon Ben Carson and the story he told about his mom. When she decided she wanted to “afterschool” her kids so that they would get better reading, she insisted that they write a book report every week and then give it to her for her approval. She would check off sections and nod her head in approval. He credited having to do all that extra work (and also going to the library) with helping improve his reading and eventually his grades in school. Only years later after he had graduated college and medical school did he discover his mother couldn’t read!
If you feel as if you won’t be able to lead the teaching of your kids in reading or writing, you can hire outside tutors or teachers in these areas. Many public and private schools which may have remote tutoring by trained teachers and tutors plan to offer these options given all the upcoming uncertainty with COVID in the fall. The public school system may do this as part of their homeschool programs that allow them to offer some services and also collect public funding for that student. You can contact us to see if we have a listing for a tutor in your area or listings of tutors who work remotely, or call your school or dyslexia specialist school.
Over the years, we also know of many parents who contacted teachers who had worked with their child in a previous grade, and asked if they might be willing to tutor their child.
Also keep in mind, it is perfectly fine to make the focus of a homeschool year reading or writing or study skills and assistive technology in general. It would be helpful if you could include some math because learning in that area is incremental; but don’t worry about content for one school year.
Most content is repeated again and can be more quickly mastered if reading and writing foundations are solid.