Radical Unschooling Day 3
Yes, but what about reading? Math? The important stuff!
I believe that those too will come. In time. Her time. They are starting to now but painfully slowly.
You see one label that PanKwake does not have officially but is true nonetheless is dyslexia.
How do I know?
First of all, Mommy intuition. The same thing that had me KNOWING about the Big A from the time she was practically a baby. But there is also the fact that dyslexia has a strong genetic link. Not only do I and two of her older siblings have a mild case of it but her father is barely literate. Something I never knew until I practically forced him to read a bedtime story to her when she was very little.
Combine this with the attention span of a gold fish, short-term and visual memory issues.
The cold hard fact is that PanKwake lacks basic reading readiness skills. And even when those do come (probably in her teens) reading is not going to come easily for my child. It is unlikely to ever be the passion it is with this writer.
Nonetheless…we still expose her to those reading readiness skills. We work too on compensation strategies. And I take advantage of EVERY teachable moment she gives me. So let’s look at how those work.
Readiness skills are essential for reading. Otherwise I just frustrate PanKwake’s Pathological Demand Avoidance. And boy have I! I pushed too hard a couple of years ago. I went out and bought those cardboard picture books. You know the Baby’s First Words things. And I ‘forced’ her to read one to her doll Billy every night.
I learned to read by the old fashioned sight method…and she will too when she is ready, it is the only way she can but mroe about that later. After a couple of weeks of that, she got so frustrated with being made to do something that for her was just impossible that she quit allowing me to even read to her. Even now she will not touch a paper book. Only electronic.
This was a real shame because the truth is that PanKwake unlike many children with dyslexia has EXCELLENT comprehension skills. She is able to follow complex storylines and plot twists without becoming confused. Unlike many on the autistic spectrum she is even able to be a predictive reader…what will happen next. And to grasp character motivations and emotions. And I screwed all that up by ‘doing the right thing’ and pushing her too hard to do something that other kids her age could…but she cannot.
We did not give up though. Have you ever heard of Minecraft Diaries by Aphmau on YouTube or Minecraft Storymode, an interactive app? We use both of those to keep her comprehension skills engaged. She loves both and will go on and on and on about what is happening in Minecraft Diaries…and my role is to quizz her…to reinforce those comprehension and extrapolation skills. As for StoryMode that one requires some reading in order for her to choose what the characters do. So that is one of those times when she will allow me to sit down next to her and read still.
But the truth is as much as we might think that reading is this magical MUST know thing. It was not always…and it is becoming less and less so now. Before you have a heart attack, let me explain. In our day of computer technology, reading is not the only way to acquire knowledge. Which is why we have been able to compensate and move on to teach PanKwake other subjects at her ability level.
Pause a moment. Think about. Audible Books. Siri. And now Alexa/Echo. Not to mention loads of other complex text to speech and speech to text apps. The cold hard truth, folks, is that even IF (and sweet goddess please no) PanKwake never manages to ‘read’, she can still be well educated, knowledgeable and a good problem solver.
And to make it all easier, Fate and the goddess has given us one of the brightest and most innovative minds in computing. Put Cookie Monster right in our lives. Trust me, I need it too. I need his reminders that the world as we know it is changing and the things that our children are learning are not even the ones they will need for their futures. It is those skills that we try to impart…things like critical thinking, problem solving and information gathering.
There is that third magical ingredient though that especially sets RADICAL UNSCHOOLING apart from traditional methods…taking advantage of teachable moments WHENEVER they occur. And if you think that radical unschooling is neglectful or lazy then this one will blow your mind.
A couple of months ago when PanKwake was in another of those up all night/sleep all day cycles she met another little girl on-line. You see Minecraft is not just a solitary endeavor. It can also be played online with others around the world on servers…if you know how. Thank you, Cookie, for showing her how. And that means PanKwake NEEDS to know some reading/writing to communicate…chat…with others. After all…Necessity is the mother of invention.
So here PanKwake was…up ALL night, trying to chat with this new ‘friend’, and most importantly this was my TEACHABLE moment. That time when letters and words actually were important to HER. It was a rare opportunity. And not to be missed. So yes, for almost a week, I was up with her for most of the night…from the time this other child came on-line around midnight or 1 AM until 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning.
How many teachers you know that dedicated? Or even most parents? But that is the RESPONSIBILITY that radical unschooling parents accept as theirs.
It goes beyond just that too. If it seems I know a lot about dyslexia, there is a reason for that too. I took it upon myself to take a six week online course through the University of London’s School of Education. Yes, I made the effort to study something intended as continuing education for teachers. Because that too was MY responsibility as a RADICAL UNSCHOOLER.
So you see this Radical Unschooling is not the easy way out for either parent or child that some people mistakenly believe it is. In fact, it is a 24/7, 365 commitment to lifelong learning for both child and parent.