Written July 29, 2015 Retrieved Sept. 28, 2018
Classical education takes a child through three distinct stages. The grammar (or memorization) stage, the logic (or analysis) stage, and the rhetoric (or persuasion) stage. Essentially, children who are being classically educated work on Latin, chemistry, literature, and a range of other topics, and they work on each of them in different ways depending on if they are in the grammar, logic, or rhetoric stage.
When young, classically educated students memorize facts; then, they learn to analyze those facts; and finally, they learn to present their views and findings through persuasive rhetoric and argumentation.
If your child has dyslexia, many of the elements of classical education may sound daunting, but they shouldn't. You can modify your child's education to work with your child's dyslexia. Here's how:
1. Make memorization personal
Dyslexic children have a hard time remembering random sequences. For example, they often struggle remembering phone numbers or learning the steps of tying their shoes. This facet of dyslexia can make the grammar (or memorization) part of classical education difficult.
When your child is young, whether they are memorizing facts about about history, literature, or science, make the memory stick by using rhymes and songs. Also, try making the information personal. If it relates to the student's life, they will be more likely to remember it.
For example, instead of having your child memorize a list of Greek gods, read them a contemporary story featuring those gods. As the story presents someone they can relate with, it becomes more personal and thus makes it easier for them to remember.
2. Encourage the use of reading aids
In classical education, there is a lot of reading. In particular, children read a lot of classics that may have strange syntax or big vocabulary words. Work with your child on their basic reading skills, but when it comes to consuming literature, encourage the use of reading aids.
Dyslexic kids can typically engage with literature more effectively if they use audio books or text-to-speech programs. That means that, rather than painstakingly trying to decode each word on the page and possibly missing the story in the process, your child can truly listen to the story, analyze its structure and understand its use of figurative speech.
3. Be flexible about showing work in math proofs
As a child gets into the higher levels of math in a classical education, they may start doing algebra and geometry. These advanced math classes typically involve creating proofs or steps showing how the student derived the right answer to the problem.
However, you may want to lift this requirement for a dyslexic student. While many dyslexic kids struggle at math, many of them also excel at higher math. However, that doesn't mean their brains are suited for writing proofs.
In many cases, they come up with the answer wordlessly. If you sense a child understands the concept and can repeatedly present the right answer, consider being flexible about the requirement to show their work.
4. Use an Orton-Gillingham-based Latin program
Orton and Gillingham developed a reading training method for dyslexics in the beginning of the 20th century. Over the last century, their methods have been used in a range of reading programs. Their methods break down the language in a way that makes sense for people with dyslexia.
In most cases, it can be very hard for dyslexics to study foreign languages. However, if you use a Latin program that is infused with the methods created by these linguists, your child will have an easier time. It will also help their English language reading and spelling, as learning Latin helps students to understand the roots of many words.
5. Focus on the arts
One area of classical education where a dyslexic student can thrive and should be encouraged to thrive is in the realm of the fine arts. Due to their ability to see things in unique ways and their often advanced spatial processing skills, most kids with dyslexia excel in art, architecture and movement. Foster this side of your child, and encourage them to delve into everything from sculpting to studying ancient architecture.
You can use these tips to support a child whom you are homeschooling in classical ways, but you can also use these tips to advocate for your dyslexic child in a classical education classroom. For more information, contact a company like Classical Academic Press.