Saturday, February 14, 2015

Differences in Learning

I've written about this along the years.  I always find it an interesting topic though, and so I thought I would write about it again.   We've had a few things happen recently that bring out the obvious differences in learning styles/abilities.  I find it amazing that within our own family the number of differences between my children.

I've written about Saoirse's struggle in the reading department.  She is finally reading simple sentences at a decent rate.  This has been hard won, and late in coming as she is 10 and a half.  But I am not concerned as I know that once it all 'clicks' she will be a book lover like her sisters.  The funny thing is that Flannery, where reading came *very* easily, is not a big reader.  It took Saoirse at least a year to get the hang of blending two letters together.  I have to say, it has been hit and miss with schooling for Jonah (due to a few problems that have come up this school year).  But in spite of that, just the other day I brought out the phonics book, something Jonah hasn't been doing in a few weeks, and the child had no problem blending two letters!  So just a couple of months worth of phonics and he is on track to be at the same reading level of Saoirse by the end of the year!

 This is the lesson that Saoirse is on.  She is just blending four letter words.

This is where Jonah is.  Granted he will be on these types of pages until he has all the sounds of the letters memorized.  The memorization should come easy.  He has mastered the harder  part of blending, which is why I believe he will be at Saoirse's level by the end of the year.

Not only will he be at level with Saoirse, but he will have surpassed Jedidiah.  Jedidiah is very smart.  He is really great at thinking through how things work.  But his strength is not in areas such as reading and following directions.  And by 'following directions' I don't mean that he is being disobedient, but that he really can't follow through with what I tell him to do.  For example the other day the boys were decorating small boxes for a Valentine party they are going to soon.  They were using star beads to glue onto their boxes. About a third of the small bag of beads made their way to the floor (imagine that!!).  When they were finished I explained to the boys that I wanted them to pick up the beads and put them in a cup (that I pointed out).  Jed came out to the dining room to clean and just stood there.  I repeated the directions, to pick the beads up off the floor and put them into the cup (the bag the beads came in was small and the chance was high that the boys would have spilled the beads while trying to get them in the bag, hence the cups).  He stood there for a second, watching his brothers.  I repeated the instruction, holding the cup up that I wanted him to  use.  He bent down, picked up a few beads, and then walked into the kitchen with them!  Um, Jed, come back here, I want you to put them into this cup.  Again, this isn't him being disobedient, he really has a hard time processing multi step directions.  This plays a big role in schooling.  He is very good at math.  But, if he has to do multiple steps I have to break it down so he can follow through.  He understands the concepts, just has difficulty in doing multiple steps at a time.

Then there are other issues like Saoirse trying to work out math problems in her own way.  Although it works for now I am trying to explain to her that once the numbers get bigger that her way will be much harder.  I have to remind her daily to work out her math problems as she was shown in her lesson.

Then there are simple remedies that a friend gave me which have very much helped some of my kids.  My friend has done a lot of research on learning disabilities and has passed along some very helpful ideas.  For example, Flannery is very good at Jed she has the concepts down pat.  But she kept messing up when the numbers got bigger and she would carry on to the wrong place unit, which gave her the wrong answer.  So this little hint has very much saved our sanity:

 This is the normal way that my kids do their math problems.  Each number on their own line.  For Flannery, this was a problem. flipping the page 90 degrees you get this:

Now each number is in its own column.  That made it possible for her to line up the numbers correctly, and carry any numbers into their correct column.

My friend has also taught me a way to help Jedidiah narrate the story we are reading.  We use the Charlotte Mason method of learning, and narration is a big part of that method.  Jonah had no problem being able to tell me about the WHOLE passage we had just read.  Jed on the other hand could only tell me back one sentence!  One sentence.  I had been telling Jed, "Tell me what we just read about."  But my friend told me to say, "Jed, what did you hear me say."  That really did make a difference.  AND the fact that I really had to stop after ONE sentence and have him repeat it.  At first I wasn't sure if it was going to work, since he would try to repeat each word.  It took a week or two for him to get the hang of it.  Then I was able to read 3 sentences and have him tell me what we had just read.  We did not have much time yesterday for our school time, so I read the whole passage and Jed was able to tell me the major points of what we read.  This is a HUGE improvement.

I am sure I have a ton more examples, but for now these will do.   How have you dealt with learning differences?  Any little nuggets of help that you could pass along?  I know for myself, I often can't 'see' the easy, simple things that can be of help.  Like in the math problem above.  All it took to help my daughter to move forward in math was to rotate her paper by 90 degrees!

Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth

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