The summer

The summer

Over the summer holidays friends and family remark with horror that we still continue to do homework.
The reality is we do not do much, we practice times tables, read for 15 mins and do some writing ( usually a holiday journal or something similar). As far as I’m concerned, this is the bare minimum to keep the dyslexic brain, so prone to forgetting concepts, ticking over.
I came across this quote by Douglas Merrill, first CIO of Google and the President of EMI Music and the CEO ZestFinance:
“Every summer, my mother was re-teaching me to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, all the way up until I’m in college…”
I notice his use of the word “re-teaching” as this is such an apt description of what I am essentially doing. I’ve mentioned before how quick Jasmine is to understand concepts and indeed how equally quick she is at forgetting it all. With certain maths concepts that depend on memorisation – timetables for instance, we just have to keep practicing them to ensure she does not completely forget them.
I think the key for me is to always remember this is a marathon not a sprint. There is no value in doing 2 hours of work daily over the summer, 30mins of short, sharp practice of a few concepts will suffice as long as these are thought out in advance.
I put a timetable together to ensure topics build on each other, I also try and mix up the reading material: comics, poems, menus, marketing leaflets etc and importantly we have an incentive mechanism, a combination of star charts and marble jars, that seem to encourage and motivate.
I noted also Merrill’s comment above about how this summer re-teaching continued right through till he went to college and remind myself once again, we are in for the long haul.
The Square root rule

The Square root rule

I’ve been doing a lot of research and reading about dyslexia and came across an absolutely amazing book that has just changed my whole understanding of dyslexia. Its called The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain

There are some many insightful chapters about the nature of the dyslexic brain including one that explains how difficult it is for dyslexics to undertake procedural learning i.e. learning how to do something, and learning it to the point where it is automatic, so you know how to do it instinctively.

The authors, Brock Eide and Fernette Eide, have coined something that they refer to as the square root rule based on lots of research.

The rule essentially gives the following guide: it takes the square root longer to learn something if you are dyslexic than if you aren’t. So if its takes 10 hours for a person without learning difficulties to learn something, it would effectively take a dyslexic 100 hours to learn the same task. Sobering!

I practically shouted “Aha” loud. You see now I understand even more deeply why spelling patterns are a challenge, why times tables are a challenge and indeed why concepts come quickly to my daughter and then seem to disappear just as fast. Indeed, now I fully understand what is meant when they say repetition is the most critical of the learning strategies.

I understand also that my daughter is not pretending and also, that the concepts will eventually stick. We just need to keep at it.

Times Tables Challenges

Times Tables Challenges

Retention of information is a challenge for my daughter. She picks up concepts really quickly, particularly maths concepts, but then forgets them in record time too!

So typically, this is what happens:

She learns a new concept, I celebrate the fact she took record time to understand the new idea, faster than her peers even (yay!), we do practice  questions, she answers all the questions flawlessly – Job done. A week later I present her with a question from the topic and she stares blankly at the question and at me. “Have we done this topic Mummy”? she asks.

I’ve read and understood that retention is a challenge for dyslexics and that learning for them involves repetition, more repetition and even more repetition.

As we well know, this makes learning times tables a near on impossibility. We’ve tried everything – books, apps, practice sheets etc. She learns and she forgets.

Someone recommended singing timetables to me. So I searched amazon and there they were. The music is a bit cheesy and the voices a bit odd, but they seem to be working. We’ve learned 5’s and 3’s   so far. I’m encouraged. Its super early days, but I’m hoping this will be the solution. We’ve got 10 more tables to go.

Wish me luck – I will keep you all posted.

Try them out, these are the ones I have.