Best Way To Teach 3 Year Old To Do Math When Learning Doesn’t Come Easy

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When Learning Doesn’t Come Easy

From the moment we find out we are expecting a child, our minds and hearts overflow with hopes and dreams for them. My son is going to be the most beautiful, brilliant, talented person to ever walk the Earth, right? And they are that for each of us!

But sometimes, we discover that there is a “problem”. The last thing we want to admit is that there is something different or wrong with our child. It’s a hard thing to do. It’s not that we love them any less! But let’s face it, we’d rather sit with other moms and share how our 4-year-old can read a chapter book, do multiplication at 6, and paint like Rembrandt at 7. Not to mention, they’re also on their way to the Olympics in two different sports. Or at least it seems that way when you’re the one silently listening to all the successes of other people’s children!

So, let’s get a few things straight… These other moms are most likely exaggerating a bit! And nothing is wrong with your child! Even if your child has a learning disability. She or he simply learns in a different way than the mainstream! And really, that’s great!

But I haven’t always felt that way. After struggling to teach my daughter to read for 3 years with little progress, I was getting pretty frustrated and so was she. Every school session ended in tears and some days started in tears at the mere mention of reading. She always loved books and being read to and was excited to learn to read for herself. So why was it such a struggle? Was he just a bad teacher? Was he too easily distracted and not motivated enough?

We finally decided to do the tests at age 7. I had noticed a lot of inversion of letters and words while reading and writing as well as in math. He complained that his head and eyes hurt when reading (and a vision test found he had 20/20 vision). I needed to know what was holding us back. I knew he was extremely intelligent in many ways, but we were hitting a brick wall. Since we homeschooled, we decided to have her try a private therapist. It took 4 hours to complete and when we finished we were told he had visual and auditory processing disorders.

Then I went into research mode mom! And as I read and searched on the Internet and in the library, I became more and more confused and overwhelmed! There didn’t seem to be any really helpful books or websites and the ones I found seemed to say different things! We decided to go for vision therapy, which of course is not covered by insurance, are any of us surprised? But we thought it was worth the shot and the money. In therapy, he worked to relearn phonics through A Time for Phonics. We also did assigned therapy at home. After 6 months it was over and I could definitely see a huge improvement! We didn’t do hearing therapy with the therapist because of the cost, but I did use a program called Earobics at home. I also found the book The Out of Sync Child and When the Brain Can’t Hear very helpful.

My search continued to find other ways to help her learn in ways that fit her learning styles. You see, processing disorders and dyslexia don’t have to be an obstacle! There are so many ways to learn. The point where I realized this was when I came across a book by Ben Foss, The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan. I encourage everyone to read it! Check out their website too! I kind of hate the word accommodation. It makes it sound like you need extra or special help, like you’re allowed to cheat. There should be no shame in learning differently. Find out what your child’s strengths are and build on those skills. Don’t focus on the standard way most children are taught to read. I have been so incredibly grateful that I chose to homeschool because my daughter didn’t have to be compared to others or labeled in any way. But even if your child is in a public or private school, remember that your child is not broken, but the system may be. Advocate for your child to have the resources they need to excel and feel connected.

What resources can you use? Oh, there are so many! This is where I got overwhelmed! I am going to list some of the resources that I felt were the best. But take a closer look around you and explore the options available!

-Audiobooks are your friend! Don’t fall behind in learning because you can’t read the material fast enough! If your child learns well by listening, try Audible. Amazon also has audiobooks and so does your local library.

– A reading focus card. You can make your own or buy one. Also try printing your pages on yellow paper or try colors other than the usual white.

-Use a text-to-speech app like Speak It or Talk to Me, and also a speech-to-text app like Dragon Dictation. Another useful application is Prizmo, users can scan any type of text document and have the program read it out loud, which can be of great help to those who have difficulty reading.

-I love Snapwords for learning site words! There’s also an app for Snapwords now!

-Fonts and background colors: Software commonly used in schools, such as Microsoft Word, is a good resource for fonts and background colors. Changing the background color to green, for example, can help with reading, as can wearing green glasses. Fonts can also enable reading and comprehension; teachers can download free specialized resources such as OpenDyslexic, which are free and run on Microsoft software.

-All About Spelling, this curriculum is great for all kids, but the multi-sensory approach based on the Orton-Gillingham methods clicked with my daughter! We haven’t tried All About Reading, but I’d bet it’s a good option.

-We used Rocket Phonics after we finished vision therapy. It was developed by a dyslexic man, and it’s fun! There are lots of games involved and interesting stories to read, not the usual boring books that are your typical easy read.

– Mathematics has been a struggle for us as much as reading. Memorizing facts is a challenge. I found a math program that uses associative learning, using fact and process mnemonics called Semple Math.

– Put your hands on it! Use clay, paints, blocks, magnets, etc. to practice letters, spelling and sounds. Learn to write the letters correctly first in the sand with your index finger and then move on to writing with a pencil. Make it FUN! Use all your senses!

-Play games! Some of the ones we’ve used and enjoy are Sum Swamp, What’s Gnu?, Scrabble, Very Silly Sentences, Boggle Jr., even card games like Addition War (put two cards each and add them up) or Alphabet Go Fish (you have to say the letter sounds), search Pinterest and the Internet for fun games to practice math facts and letter sounds or spelling and visual words. Even if your child is older, there are practical ideas that are fun and multi-sensory

Moms (and dads), my point in writing this is to give you some starting points. And to let you know you are not alone! I know it can be disappointing at first to hear that your child is struggling in some way. But you may also feel like a weight has been lifted to know how your child learns and that there are ways to help and empower your little one. I know that if you are in school, you will have to explain to your child why he can go to a special class or take tests differently than other children. You have to trust yourself to know how to talk to your child. There are children’s books that talk about dyslexia and learning difficulties in a positive way, such as Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco, The Alphabet War by Diane Robb and for older children May B by Caroline Rose or Niagra Falls, or Does it? By Henry Winkler (yes, Fonzie from Happy Days!)

Try to emphasize their strengths and affinities and not simply focus on their weaknesses and difficulties. Remind your child that he can indeed learn, but he learns in a unique way, and that’s okay! We are all unique and have our own strengths and weaknesses. Love your child for who they are and hopefully they will find the right tools to make learning soar!

I never thought I would see the day when my daughter’s favorite activity was reading! Keep your chin up, keep plugging away, light up and make it fun, and love them no matter what!

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