It’s mesmerizing and powerful…Charlotte Edmond’s choreographed underwater ballet that was meant to convey the experience of being depressed and at the same time overcome the stigma that exists about mental illness. >>>WATCH VIDEO BELOW
This remarkable choreographer is Charlotte Edmond, a young woman who is also now working on a documentary and dance project focusing on dyslexia and creativity.
Charlotte Edmond first began to dance at the age of 4. Her mom was a single mom headmistress at a boarding school, and dancing kept Charlotte occupied. By 11, Charlotte joined the Royal Ballet School.
School work was challenging because of her dyslexia, but in retrospect, she says that dyslexia may have helped her choreography, because she had to use visualization strategies in order to remember for school.
She earned her first commission at the age of 16, and by 19 she became The Royal Ballet’s first Young Choreographer.
Said the artistic director for the Yorke Dance Project, Charlotte’s first commission, “I knew from observing her in class that she didn’t just take a combination and try to do it exactly as I had given it. She had a way of being creative.”
Photo of Charlotte by Alice Pennefather
In Pointe magazine, said the English National Ballet’s ballerina, Isabelle Brouwers: “I really see her becoming one of the next star British choreographers. You never feel like you’re going to work with her – it’s fun. She allows us to give our input, and she works with our strengths.”
Watch “What Life is like as a Young Choreographer with the Royal Ballet” above.
“I normally base most of my works on my personal experiences.
I find that dance is the perfect way to express how I’m feeling.”
I recently came across a helpful account from a university-based tutor who worked with a fellow college student at Reed. There are many points that are helpful to consider if you are working with a student in the area of writing. For some, writing is the most frustrating task they are likely to encounter in […]
“My dad noticed I was reading the comics with no trouble. Soon there were comic books in the house and I was writing and drawing stories of my own. Instead of shame, I felt empowered.”
– Michelle Ollie
Michelle Ollie is a cartoonist and co-founder of The Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont.
She shared her personal journey with dyslexia and comics HERE (excerpts on following pages). Today she runs an MFA and certificate program for cartooning. The program gives young artists to focus their work on drawing sequential art and working closely with professional mentors.
Today cartooning and animation are 250 billion dollar industries, and cartoonists find their jobs in areas such as comics, editorial work, advertising, sports, children’s books, or animated movies.
I had a chance to talk with Michelle and learn more about her center and personal career:
Coco Fox is a second year student at Michelle’s Center for Cartoon Studies. She shared Michelle’s comic with her 14 year old niece who has having school challenges because of her dyslexia and she was moved by Michelle’s comic.
She shared a graphic novel with her (The Prince and the Dressmaker) and she was amazed how easy it was to read. Unlike dense texts, she could “just read” and enjoy the story. From that moment on, she was hooked on reading.
Other projects Coco has been involved with includes Dog with Jobs and a group project, This is What Democracy Looks Like. You can see more of her work at MediumWeird.com and get a free (or donate) copy of the democracy comic on Gumroad.
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.
Like it or not, when Fall rolls around, many of us may need to school from home whether it’s our first choice or not.
What if your student is dyslexic? Can it possibly work?
There are a lot of people who can’t see schooling from home working for their student, but what I can tell you is that over the years, Brock and I have seen every type of schooling for every type of student and when there’s a will, there’s a way.
THERE IS NO ONE-SIZE FITS ALL
Schooling from home doesn’t have to mean mom and dad at the kitchen table with a little chalkboard.
Parents can work from home and also have their children fully educated. You don’t have to replicate an entire school day at home. Many parents are surprised how much shorter the direct education time takes for students at home. What school looks like can differ dramatically between students, but almost every homeschooling parent we ever talked to said they were surprised how little time it took to school them – and also with so much less stress.
If school was a stressful experience for your student, you may see the`ir old selves return again.
How many hours did it take? That depends. My recall was that it was usually a few hours a day – with the time broken up into smaller parts and a mix of online activities as well as one-on-one time.
One upside of homeschooling is the ability to tailor the time of certain subjects to the student rather than the other way round.
You also don’t need to cover every subject every day. I think we did math 2-3 times per week and we did online math for both kids, although we tried a variety of programs until we found a good match for our kids.
DIFFERENT GOALS FOR DIFFERENT STUDENTS
Even if you decided to homeschool for the coming year, you can have very different goals for each child. Would you like to homeschool one child to allow him to intensively remediate in reading? Or do you have plans to remote school just until the pandemic and pandemic policies seem to be under better control?
If you plan to school from home only one year, you might want to be in touch with your local school to see if they might share their curriculum so that rejoining (if you want to) would be a smoother process in a year.
If you’re opening to homeschooling for more than a year, you have more flexibility for school planning. Some parents choose interest-based unschooling with the idea that reading, writing, and math will somehow be worked in. Others may instead put the focus on reading, writing, and math, and work interests and perhaps documentary watching into time left over.
Many public schools have distance learning programs that allow parents access to a teacher who will supervise your student’s plan, but also free resources, including books, curricula, software, and extracurriculars free to families and paid for by federal student funds. Many private schools (including those specifically for dyslexia) may also have homeschool programs in which students receive specialist teacher time once or several times per week.
WHAT ABOUT MOM, DAD, OR ANOTHER FAMILY MEMBER BECOMING AN ORTON-GILLINGHAM TUTOR?
As almost anyone in this field knows, some of the most talented tutors and curriculum creators in this field have a personal connection to dyslexia, whether it was their child, grandchild, niece, or nephew…and the field is much richer for it.
If your student needs intensive remediation through a comprehensive structured literacy program, a few months or year of focused remediation could significantly improve their decoding abilities and set them on a better path whenever they return to school.
Because of the pandemic, all of the curriculum providers have had to provide more resources and support for parents, teachers, and tutors who are adopting their curricula. Some programs (like SondayAll About Learning orBarton) have extensive support resources like videos to help parents or other non-professionals know how to present lessons. Other programs, like LIPS or Wilson require more teacher prep, but remote tutors can be arranged from private schools for dyslexia like Churchill Center and School or the curriculum providers themselves.
Sometimes parents may want to try and tackle the remediation process themselves, especially if sessions are short and instructions straightforward. Most curricula have introductory lessons on line so that families can tryout different programs and see how easy or hard they may be to work for them.
Because students know all routines have been upset because of the pandemic, pivoting students to a new plan also doesn’t have the associated baggage such as being taken out of school or held back because of “failure.”
WHAT ABOUT THE OLDER GRADES OR PRE-COLLEGE YEARS?
In many respects, homeschooling older students can be easier, not harder. Older students can be more independent with their studies and now it’s possible to have a great more flexibility in what classes get scheduled and over what period of time.
Dyslexic students often have higher conceptual abilities than output speed. The gaps narrow over time, but through much of K-12, a large gap exists. As a result, for some students – letting them pursue more advanced classes in area of interest – especially if there are fewer other classes at the same time or lower output demands (written work, papers) can give students more confidence in their intellectual abilities at a time that is some important for them thinking about what their career future holds for them.
In junior high, we know of many students who homeschooled by taking 1-2 online advanced classes at one time. They could immerse themselves in one subject, learn academic writing at the same time, gaining confidence in their abilities without becoming overloaded. Taking the classes for credit can also help them if they choose to later rejoin a traditional in-class school.
For the high school years, parents and students may become more anxious that they should return to traditional schooling, but often those who resist the pull find things better outside of traditional K-12 rather than worse. Middle school can become a torture for some students, as an impossible amount of work assigned, social pressures and bullying take their toll. This is also a period were teen brains reorganize and many systems may be in flux; having more time and grace to ‘get things together’ can be a gift. Many students do get things together in upper middle school, so that if they want return to brick and mortar schools in high school, the timing may be ripe.
Many homeschooling students choose to return in high school with the intention of transitioning back to traditional brick and mortar schools for sports, extracurricular and social reasons, and even the idea that high school may be “pre-college.” Some transition smoothly, while others may not. If problems with the transition happen, often difficulties arise with over-ambitious courseloads, inconsistent or denied accommodations, and unrealistic course expectations.
Some students find a better match taking some community college classes instead of high school. At the community college level, there are more student supports, often a designated LD support office and free or low cost tutors. Students can also take advantage of the high school years to acquire college credits – through community college classes, CLEP multiple choice exams, or AP exams.
There were so many variations on everything that we saw in education over the years we were in practice; not everything worked that was tried, but with time, all of the families we worked with found a plan that really worked for their students, and today its a beautiful thing to see them happy and successful in paths that they chose for themselves.
As at least half of the schools across the country closed for health reasons, students from the earliest ages to post-graduates find themselves schooling from home, usually through online programs.
In the best situations, students have smoothly or semi-smoothly transitioned to distance learning. In the worst, students don’t log on, and uncertainty exists as to whether there are sufficient resources (like devices and internet access) or if they know how to get connected. Teachers and school systems are undertaking many out-of-the box solutions to get entire classrooms online.
What does that mean for dyslexic students?
A report from NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) warns about potential “COVID Slide” or potential losses that occur when schools are not in session. The education researchers are extrapolating based on what they have observed in students following summer vacation:
“While there is some controversy about the magnitude of summer learning loss, three trends are consistent across seasonal learning research findings: achievement typically slows or declines over the summer months, declines tend to be steeper for math than for reading, and the extent (proportionally) of loss increases in the upper grades.”
The NWEA is concerned that school closures because of the virus will be twice the duration of summer vacation, with significant impacts on school achievement.
While these are legitimate concerns, all students are in this boat together, and assuming that you’re able to read this newsletter, you’ve at least been able to find our organization Dyslexic Advantage and read this magazine online.
Because we’re all in this chaotic present together, I think for the majority of dyslexic families – this period of COVID schooling can have some incidental benefits.
Shorter School Days and More Technology
First, assuming schools are not requiring full online days for school (those that do are making a big mistake), many dyslexic students will have more ‘down time’ in their school day, which is a good thing. Many students fare better when able to move around and focus their concentration in short bursts.
Technology usually benefits dyslexic students as well if they are given a chance to experiment with and learn what a system can do. Remote learning may also be a great opportunity to ensure that all accommodations are in place and that your student has all the access to information and reading, writing, spelling, and math supports they may need.
With online classes, students may be able to dictate their responses and have text read aloud…something that often isn’t done in conventional classrooms.
Parents Can Learn More About Their Student’s Experience in School
Parents may learn more about their students’ experiences in school – whether positive or negative or both. Sometimes sending students off to school is a little bit like a ‘black box’ – where you can’t see what happens.
With live classes or recorded classes, it may be much easier to see what your student has trouble with or where she or he gets lost. At the same time, you also might get a chance to hear your student shine in an online classroom discussion.
Be Prepared to Advocate If You Need To
If your student is having trouble, then speak up about needs. Students (and families and teachers) are under great stress right now and few schools have established routines and protocols.
If students aren’t tech savvy, they may have difficulty learning and working with the new platform. The stress and uncertainty of the current situation is also likely to take its toll on working memory and emotional well-being.
– Keep your teacher informed about difficulties your student could be having with communication as well as with assigned work.
– Request fewer assignmentsand more time if necessary to complete assignments.
– Request permission to record classes.
– If supports are lacking, be prepared to request out-of-the-box solutions to problems that arise because of the pandemic.
For instance, if classroom discussions aren’t in a college course, but you need discussion to comprehend material, then request an online tutor through the student support office. If none is available, contact a classmate and see if they might be willing to study together online.
If your student was given worksheet packets to complete and she or he is struggling with the quantity of material assigned or experiencing undo stress from being unable to keep up with the amount of work, request a reprieve and share the information with your teacher. With remote schooling, teachers can’t see if students are getting overwhelmed or if assignments are piling up at home.
Communicate frequently in an informative and non-emotional way until expectations are manageable for all concerned. Tell your teacher if the amount of reading with the switch to distance learning is too much. If online discussions are overwhelming, shy students may have trouble thinking of what they want to say when everyone in class is looking at them. This sort of thing can also make ‘tip of the tongue’ problems worse. Teachers can help by giving students the questions that they will ask them the day before – it can help students to prepare as well as build confidence.
Finally, try not to worry if you decide to take a break from formal schooling. These are unusual times.
If you wanted to keep up a little reading and your student hasn’t yet gotten used to reading along with listening, this period would be a great time to find a platform and workflow with technology.
If you need to certify as having dyslexia to qualify individually for Ebook or audiobook resources from Bookshare or Learning Ally, various psychological associations have made announcements that their professionals are permitted to use “telemedicine” during this time of the pandemic. Also dyslexia screening is available through Neurolearning.com using an iPad, iPhone, or Android devices (for ages 7-70).
There has been some suggestion that the earlier people start with reading along with listening, the easier it will become. Some students struggle with this because of working memory being overwhelmed or problems with divided attention. If this is the case, have a student practice with a short passage (a book chapter or less depending on age), listening first, then re-listening while reading along while the text is highlighted. Having already heard the chapter first, reduces the work of having to figure what’s being said while following the text by eye. Doing this does provide more print exposure and training and it’s much better than not reading or listening alone.
Try reading on a phone and adjust the display so only a few words are visible at a time – it may reduce the work of reading and make it more enjoyable.
Colleges and universities are in crisis, as they hastily cancelled in-person classes and the pandemic drags on. They face huge budget losses with refunds for student fees for housing and food, plus the prospect of students choosing not to enroll for the fall semester with risk of cancellation of in-person classes and events due to the virus. International students may also choose not to enroll which will take its toll on school budgets (read more about the college situation HERE).
Many students are rightly considering transfers to a local or online school or taking a gap year. Families who suddenly find themselves out of a job or jobs, can’t afford to send students away to college. Some graduate students are even finding out that their faculty advisor has been furloughed.
We are in uncharted territory.
Many recent grads are finding out that prized internships have been cancelled or new jobs no longer exist.
Many advisors are suggesting that students who are taking a gap year, plan to do so…however, if lock-downs persist, it may also limit what good resume-building activities students can engage in from home. Budding entrepreneurs may be less hindered than others, especially if they can think of a business of minimal viable product that can be worked on at home. What is true is that many other people are also at home, though, so it may be easier to collaborate or work with another student who’s in the same boat.
Also on the plus side, if you otherwise might be self-conscious using accommodations for reading and writing at work, there’s no trouble now if you’re working at home. If you’re new to a job, you could see this as a positive opportunity that you can get used to the type of work in a particular internship while enjoying unfettered access to text to speech, speech to text, and spellcheck and grammar check. By the time you will be heading into the office, you will have developed a workflow that you know can work for you.
Designate areas and rules and if you have a number of people in your household, set up schedules where the various members of your family can have relative quiet and low distraction when they are videoconferencing.
If you have young children at home, and no older siblings to watch them, then you may need to tag team supervision in order to get some uninterrupted work done. If some conflict is causing you stress, be unafraid about confronting problems and advocating for a better plan. A great example is when stress was created because students were given assignments that were due by 4 o’clock the same day. If that won’t work for your student or your family (for instance you have to supervise or help and don’t have free time during the day), then request that the rule be changed so that assignments are submitted that evening or the next morning.
Other good advice – communicating well with your colleagues, resetting your work expectations if necessary, and giving yourself as well as others plenty of grace might help you survive this corona time.