My son is almost 9, and we are half-way through Bigger. We found out he was dyslexic about two years ago, and he STRUGGLES with reading. He did Beyond last year and loved it! The only thing we adjusted was the spelling. It was too much for him, so we didn’t do it. This year in Bigger, I have added the spelling, and he is doing better. He is doing the Emerging Readers Set in Bigger, and I have added All About Reading too. He does much better with the Emerging Reader’s Set because he is able to use the pictures to help decode.
That leads me to history. The history books in Beyond had a lot of pictures! The Bigger Hearts… history books don’t have many pictures. Having him rely solely on listening to the content has been difficult, as he’s dyslexic. So, I have been omitting much of the Bigger… history readings and supplementing with many picture books.
I have had to read everything out loud in Bigger. His favorite part In Bigger is the Storytime box. I got the Boy Interest set, and he has enjoyed them a great deal! However, Math is a struggle because he is dyslexic and cannot read his word problems. I started Heart of Dakota first with my daughter. I have already gone through Preparing with my daughter (and absolutely loved it!!) However, I don’t see my dyslexic son being able to do anything independently simply because he cannot read well. So, my question is how can I prepare my dyslexic son who is an emerging reader for Preparing?
“Please help me prepare my dyslexic son for Preparing”
Dear “Please help me prepare my dyslexic son for Preparing,”
Thanks so much for taking time to share about your son. It is so helpful to gain a better picture of what he is able to do! I’d be happy to help answer your question about how your dyslexic son as an emerging reader can prepare for Preparing! Reading issues aside, it isn’t uncommon for kiddos to find Bigger to be a step up in listening content and in writing. Bigger is purposefully meant to move kiddos toward listening to higher level books with fewer to no pictures. This is so they can practice the skills of comprehending without the aid of the illustrations.
Developing listening comprehension without the aid of illustrations is a skill that takes time.
Comprehending without the aid of illustrations is a process that takes time. Kiddos often are not good at this skill right away. Their attention can wander as listeners. Because of this, they may struggle in being able to remember much from the readings at first. However, as time passes, they get better and better at this important skill. It is encouraging that your son enjoys the Storytime read-alouds. This means he is headed in the right direction listening-wise! I also think you have your son accurately placed, and you have a good understanding of Heart of Dakota having used it with both your daughter and your son!
History read-alouds are more difficult than Storytime read-alouds.
As a general rule, history books that are more factual are more difficult than Storytime read alouds. So, I would encourage you at this point to move away from adding picture-style books to Bigger’s history. Instead you can use the history read aloud books as scheduled… knowing this is another level of a skill that will take time to develop. Just keep in mind that it is a necessary stepping stone as he matures even further as a listener (and comprehension-wise), even though he is dyslexic and is an emerging reader.
Follow-up activities are specific to the history read-alouds, so changing the books makes it difficult to be successful with the assigned work.
The history readings in Bigger… have skill-based follow-up activities, timeline, vocabulary cards, art projects, poetry, etc. Since everything on the left side of the Bigger Hearts plans each day goes with the history reading, it is probably confusing not to have read the corresponding history reading which sets up the activities. So many skills are wound into the activities on the left side of the guide. Going forward it will be important to do what is in the plans so he gains the skills needed for Preparing Hearts. Many of the skills your son will be gaining are not reading-related. So, in spite of his reading difficulties, he will still need the skills wound within the Bigger plans. In fact, with dyslexic reading challenges, listening skills become all the more important!
Discontinuing supplementing will give your son time to focus on the skills in the guide, so he can keep progressing.
I would encourage you to stop the urge to supplement. This includes not doing 2 reading programs, which is more than likely fatiguing for him as he is dyslexic. Since he is having success with the Emerging Reader’s Set, I would continue with that. Following the reading schedule and answering the oral comprehension questions will continue to move him along in both reading ability and comprehension. Give this at least 18 weeks to work on its own. Bigger is designed to build a huge array of skills that take time for kiddos to gain. Having done Bigger Hearts 4 times now with 4 very different sons, I can say that it is a slow burn that brings big results over time. You will see the fruit from Bigger in Preparing Hearts. It just takes time to reap what you sow.
Celebrate the progress your son is making in reading and try not to compare.
As far as your son’s emerging reading goes, it sounds like you are progressing in this area! It is not uncommon for kiddos to have difficulty when decoding multi-syllable words or for kiddos to struggle as they move to more words on a page and fewer pictures. So, take heart that your son is making good, steady progress. Often it is true that if you have an older sibling who was a natural reader first, then when a younger one struggles it seems all the more pronounced. We had this very scenario at our own house!! Also, remember that the difference between when boys and girls mature as readers and writers is also a factor. So, in looking at your son just try to focus on the forward motion he is making.
Make time for hearing and vision tests, and then encourage free reading time with easier picture books.
Be sure that both his hearing and his vision have been tested in the past year. That way you can rule out any concerns in either of those areas. Then, keep steadily plugging along with what is working for him in reading. For your son’s free reading time, be sure to allow him to read easier books with many pictures, comparable to the level of the Emerging readers. This will build his confidence and his enjoyment of reading. Kids often free read at a level or two below what they can really read, as they don’t want to work so hard to gain meaning.
It’s just fine for you to read aloud the math story problems for your son for now.
As far as the math story problems go, I would just read those aloud to your son. Since math is a time to be thinking about mathematical concepts, there is nothing wrong with reading the story problems aloud for him to aid in that process. I often read the math story problems aloud to my younger boys. That way they can focus on the math rather than on decoding the words before even getting to the problem.
Going half-speed in Bigger will give your son time to progress in all the skills needed to be ready for Preparing.
If you need to move to half-speed Bigger for awhile in order to do everything in the plans as written I would suggest that you do so. Just make it a goal not to move onto the next day of plans until you’ve done everything from the day before. Bigger is such a key teaching and learning year, it can be hard to make up for missing the rich set of skills wound within every box of plans if you fast forward past them.
It will also be important that your son does as much of the writing as he can that is in Bigger each day. So, if you have to slow down in order for him to do the written portions than I would definitely do so. Otherwise, if you rush forward without taking time for your son to gain needed skills, then each subsequent guide will have to be modified more and more until all you have left is a reading aloud program because the rest of the skills will all be too difficult.
Here are a few tips in regard to copywork, notebooking, and the reading of the books in Bigger!
As far as writing goes, you can write a sentence of the poetry copywork and have him write his own version right below yours. Then, you could do the rest of the copying for him with the goal of having him copy more as he is able. He can eventually move toward copying more as he is able. As far as the science lab and notebooking assignments, you could move toward having your son do a small portion of the writing in these areas and work up to eventually doing more. Just keep in mind that you are meant to be helping him with every part of Bigger and also that you are meant to be doing all the reading aloud. Then you can rest easier knowing you are doing exactly what you need to do by helping him along the way.
These few tweaks will help your son continue to move forward in Bigger so he can prepare for Preparing.
With just a couple of tweaks that I mentioned above, you can move forward in Bigger knowing you will be preparing your son for the next step up. One of our own sons struggled with reading too, and he has had slow but steady progress in this area. He is gaining every year! We did do Preparing at half-speed at first for awhile to help him grow into the guide before going full-speed with it. Remember that in Preparing, you are still reading aloud the history. It is just the Deluxe Package and science books that the child is reading. Slow and steady wins the race, so keep on with Bigger, and your son will be ready for Preparing!