Welcome to the first in a series of columns ad- dressing the questions that homeschooling parents (and grandparents) have about their
child who is working hard, but continuing to struggle in various areas of learning. Each month I will select one question from my “mailbox.”
“I’m taking my 7 1/2 year old daughter out
of a Christian school in January. Her IEP
showed a 1% working memory and a low
processing speed. She is ambidextrous, but
uses her left hand for writing. She struggles a great deal with writing. She is being privately tutored by a Wilson Certified
Teacher, but the progress has been very
slow. She just started the second book. She
is repeating first grade this term.
Her main problem areas are reading,
spelling and math. Any suggestions for
curriculum would be appreciated.”
First I would like to congratulate you
A Quick Review of her Testing
on your resolve, realizing that your
daughter would do so much better at
home, under your tutelage.
In my experience, a low working memory usually means two things: 1) an auditory processing issue . . . especially if
the “digit span” subtest in the WISHC-IV was low; or 2) a focus/attention issue. Many times it involves both. Her
low processing speed could involve two
areas: 1) if her subtest, “coding” is low,
this shows us that she is struggling with
a Visual/Spatial/Motor processing glitch;
2) the other area that can give a low score
in “processing speed” is her inability to
track her eyes quickly from left to right.
You will be able to observe this as you
watch her eyes track while she is reading
aloud to you. The good news is that all
of these processing glitches can easily be
corrected at home.
Another factor to consider, of course,
is that first graders do not generally
test well. Their unfamiliarity with test
taking, and anxiety usually give falsely
low scores. Do not over-concern your-
self with those scores. Let’s just take
care of the learning issues that she is
You can easily ascertain which learning gates are blocked for your daughter by using the checklist, “Identifying
Blocked Learning Gates.” This is an easy
to use, downloadable form from my
website and will give you much insight.
I used this checklist in all my IEP meetings when explaining the child’s processing glitches to the parents, and to make
my teaching plans, when I was teaching
in my Resource Room in school.
What Curriculum to Use
My experience is that the phonics programs like the one she is presently being tutored with, that rely on tapping
out sounds and syllables, etc., are too
auditory for these children who already
have an auditory processing glitch. The
progress can be very slow. I prefer to
use the Right Brain Reading method
which involves using the child’s strong
It is not unreasonable to expect a
two-year growth in a year, using
these alternative teaching methods.