At my wits end

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At my wits end

Postby Missie_M » Wed Jun 24, 2009 5:42 pm

I don't know what to do. My eight year old daughter has always been a very reluctant learner, with tears and tantrums involved.

Recently she is getting better and she is even starting to read without being forced to, but she just won't do any writing. It is like she gets mental block, gets frustrated and it all ends in tears.

She also can not hold any information for longer than a minute, you can cover something in depth and then when you ask her about it, she has forgotten everything even though she was listening avidly.

I decided to back off for long while, thinking that doing anything by force is not going to achieve anything in the long run, and I homeschooled in a very laidback, unstructured, 'unschooling' way. However, she is eight now, and there has to be some kind of structure. She can't go her whole life being unable to even write a letter. She always gets very upset and says she doesn't know what to write, no matter the subject.

She also has problems with concentration, forgetting the answer to something before she has even written it down. I noticed when we went out earlier to a museum, even though art is her number one passion, when she was colouring something in, she was looking around the whole time at other people and children, she wasn't focused at all. Focus and concentrating is another area where she has problems. We can't do anything for longer than ten minutes before it becomes to much for her and we have to leave the rest till later on.

She also can't yet differentiate between a C and an S, a B or a D, and she sometimes writes letters and numbers the wrong way round, or puts a capital letter in the middle or the end of a word. She also skips words or adds words when she is reading.

We haven't started cursive yet as she hasn't even grasped printing.

Is this a sign of ADHD, or dyslexia? Or is she just a very reluctant learner?

I am open to any kind of suggestion as this isn't just causing a huge problem since she was homeschooled but while she was in school too.

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Postby ncmom » Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:38 am

I can empathize with you. My daughter was a challenge for a while too. Drove me nuts! I would ask her a question and she would tell me everything except the answer or would just blankly stare at me. She was soooooooooo flaky! We would go over something and then I would ask her a question about it, she would then promptly reply either she didn't know or didn't understand. I knew she understood and usually she knew the answer. She was just being defiant and a little lazy because she didn't want to take the time to do the work.

Remember she is only 8 and some children who are highly creative thinkers have a hard time concentrating on one thing because their mind tends to wander. My daughter is a doodler, she draws non stop and would start doodling during her lessons or start daydreaming about what she was going to doodle later when she didn't have paper. I started letting her draw pictures about her lessons and she started paying more attention. In history she could draw a scene, in Lit the same thing. For science she could draw a bug or something, ect., but the pictures had to be out of that days lessons.

My suggestion would be just stick with it and be flexible. Don't limit yourself to one teaching method with her and break up the day into smaller portions. My daughter is doing fine now it just took some creative teaching methods; however, she still daydreams and doodles and there are days when it is just a lost cause. On those days we put away our books and cancel school, we can always catch up the next day.

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Lorelei Sieja
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Postby Lorelei Sieja » Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:51 am

Sounds to me like a classic example of Dyslexia. Now folks use that term very broadly to refer to anyone who doesn't read well, but actually, it is a very specific type of reading disorder. True dyslexics just "see" and think different that most. Most of us see linear - from left to right, from top to bottom. If we see a part of the whole, we may know what the whole looks like, but we only see that part of the whole. A dyslexic sees and thinks in three dimensions. That makes them superior problem solvers. If they see a part of a whole, their brain fills in the rest and they see the whole thing. Inside, outside, and upside down. Wonderful for problem solving. Challenging when it comes to read the word CAT. Their brain may twist the letters all over the place, putting them in different order, even flipping them backwards or upside down.

Dyslexics, though, can be very brilliant. Current belief is that Leonardo DiVinci was also dyslexic. Here is a website that lists common symptoms of dyslexia:

That same website also has excellent information on teaching the dyslexic child. You should know that Dyslexia is actually a gift, not really a learning disability. Dyslexics are highly creative, hands-on learners. For now, until you learn more about teaching and dyslexia, you can just stop formal writing instruction. Teach her how to organize her thoughts, and give a good speech. Let her do her "writing" verbally, with a tape recorder.

My brother is dyslexic. In 5th grade, a PS teacher told him he was a moron and didn't deserve a PS education. He barely managed to graduate from high school, and only because my mom read all his assignments out loud. He went to a small university that allowed him to take his exams orally, and he graduated with honors, with a bachelor's degree in education (showed that PS teacher a thing!) and a master's degree in psychology. So while your daughter may NEVER learn how to write, it shouldn't stop her from achieving her dreams.

Congratulations! and check out the forum for dyslexic parents at for more information and support.

Lorelei Sieja
Nurturing Creative Young Minds and Wiggly Bodies

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