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For 100 points… What is education?

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Ever feel like you are playing a game with the odds totally stacked against you?

Education for 100 points? “What age can your child start school?”

Did you say 5? No sorry, you may not start until you have already turned 6.

Education for 200 points? “Would it be possible to contact a school and discuss it?”

I am sorry. Do you seriously think they will want to take the disruptive always up to mischief child into a classroom?

Education for….

I am so disappointed, disgusted, and disillusioned that, time again and again misinformation, misconception, misinterpretation, and misrepresentation, lead to a misunderstanding of some children.

I am tired of no one listening and everybody talking! I am tired of trying to explain:

  • If you challenge him he settles to the task.
  • He only causes issues when he is bored!
  • He needs movement to process his world!
  • He is not being defiant!
  • He will quote you back verbatim for hours on end if you just… Let! Him! Move!”

I am now convinced talking to a brick wall would be easier!  Disillusioned does not even begin to cover my disappointment in educators and the system they have created.  Only 20pages on learning difficulties (LD) in the 600page educational psychology textbook for teachers does not help teachers understand anything but standard kids.  Very few have heard of twice exceptional… let alone Gifted… and learning difficulties including dyslexia….

Teacher: “Isn’t Gifted, genius? He is really not that smart!”

“Isn’t dyslexia just an excuse to be lazy?”

Ok, time for a deep breathe! Smile! Remember to think calming thoughts before you talk and… don’t scream at anyone!  You can not change ‘rude and ignorant’ so do not lower yourself to their level! Use new mantra: “Educate them! Educate them!” Obviously they think they know best! No that thought is not allowed! “Educate them!”

Thankfully, my crazy family had a solution to my as yet to occur chaos! My father’s infuriating mantra and answer to every impossible situation… “There is no such word as can’t!” and my mother’s response to my complaints about my father’s never-changing advice was “Just go and do something useful! Better still go and work out a different way to sort out your problem!” Which obviously left to me walking away grumbling “Thanks for nothing, Mum!”

Well, thanks for something very important, Mum! The education system may not be able to educate my impossible child, but I can!

Yes, that’s right! I can! Although, I will attempt to politely correct your misunderstanding and misconception and a whole bunch of other “mis-” that is involved with “dys-” (dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyspraxia…) and I just need to let it go!

Me: “I said Twice-Exceptional! That is Gifted with a learning difficulty.  In my son’s case dysgraphia is our super power!  That’s mother speak for ‘this is a strength we need to learn to utilize’. Now we are on the same page, right?.

When I said “gifted” you thought I meant “prodigy”. I did not! I meant he is an asynchronously challenged child. His brain works differently.”

Are you confused yet? Good! So am I!  Hopefully we might achieve something useful yet!

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Thoughts… Bilingualism… Dyslexia…

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Food for thought… Dyslexia…

My son can hear Arabic sounds. This means he struggles less in Arabic than in English.

Arabic is picture based language so it always appears the same or with the bottom dropped. No upper or lower case. 28 letters plus 10 extra variations but they have rules that are not regularly broken.

For example an Arabic /b/ looks like ب. In the beginning middle and end joining 3 /b/ look like this ببب.

In English B at the beginning of a sentence is B, but at the beginning of a word in the middle of a sentence is b and in the middle/end is b. So… yes. We struggle. Then add the need to turn b into d and still read as b, or write and read p q d b interchangeably. It is an overwhelming struggle at times.

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Time for tea, coffee, chocolate or cake… ☕🍫🍰

I am compiling research on how best to teach my profoundly dyslexic child with dysgraphia to navigate the world of the three Rs = Reading, Writing and Arithmetic!

The issue with dyslexia is too many people equate reading difficulties with “dyslexia”.

Reading difficulties may well be a part of dyslexia but people with stealth dyslexia (orthography dyslexia) can read grades above their age.

Dyslexia is a neurological condition categorised under specific learning difficulties in the DSM-V used by psychiatrists. Dyslexic people’s brains function differently when scanned compared to a person without dyslexia. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK332886/

That is the long way of saying you always have dyslexia. It is not going away. How it manifests itself in each individual is different.

You cannot say you don’t have dyslexia in one language and you do in the other.

What you can say your brain functions differently when using.different languages.

I am trying to do research into how bilingualism assists the dyslexic brain.

The information i current have suggests that – Simultaneous acquisition of language means two separate parts of the brain accumulate info for each language.

Two languages acquired subsequently (one after the other) use the same part of the brain.

Hence in the first instance you may have no issues with one language but the other causes issues because separate parts of the brain act differently.

In the second instance both usually cause issues but as one language is usually stronger than the other the same discrepancy appears to show with how dyslexia impacts.

The difference in whether some languages appears to be in languages like Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, German, ? Spanish (I think) [I have not covered further research yet and these are the ones familiar to me] is they work for a dyslexic brain like phonics instruction. The sounds and letters always stay the same. Their is no trick.
What you see is what you get. Learn the sound and rule. Finished.
In English read and read; ate/eight; cause issues. Sounds like /m/ /n/.

So I have found bilingual studies on dyslexia that make sense need to have a bilingual linguists or a neuroscience trained person involved.

Education, psychology and neuroscience departments don’t appear to chat about dyslexia… :/ *sigh*

Links to articles I like that talk about Bilingualism and Dyslexia I have added below: (I will update as I find more).

  1. http://www.aljazeera.net/encyclopedia/healthmedicine/2017/6/28/ماذا-تعرف-عن-عسر-القراءة
  2. http://www.dyslexiatraininginstitute.org/blog/orthographic-dyslexia-is-it-always-phonological-awareness/
  3. https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/dyslexia/faqs-about-bilingualism-and-dyslexia
  4. https://dyslexiaida.org/literacy-dyslexia-revealed-through-bilingual-brain-development/
  5. https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/dyslexia/different-types-of-dyslexia

Dyslexia resources for homeschoolers, links to my favourite blogs:

  1. https://raisinglifelonglearners.com/great-dyslexia-resources-for-homeschoolers/

A Biliterate Journey… Part 1: Back to school

A quest for stationery begins….

WORD SEARCH – STATIONARY ARABICWORKSHEETS (HTTPS://WWW.PINTEREST.COM.AU/PIN/404057397792887235)

“Mum! I need some new pencils, and a pencil sharpener for school! Baba (Dad) did not buy any!”

Me: “We will get some tomorrow!”

I stopped mid stride – I could buy pencils✏🖍🖌🖊(قلم – qalam) no problem… but we are in the Middle East…. No one knows what a “pencil sharpener” is!

What do you call a pencil sharpener in Arabic? Do you know?

The dictionary only wanted to tell me what a pencil is called. We knew that already. Oh dear! *sigh*

Even my husband looked at me blankly, when he returned from work, when

I said “What is a pencil sharpener called in Arabic?”
Response “What do you need that for?”
Me: “School next week!”
Response “I will get some. Is three enough?”

….and then he was gone to play with the kids…. and I still did not know what a “Pencil Sharpener” was called…

  • or a ruler📏
  • paperclip🖇
  • envelope📩
  • calendar 📇
  • folder/file🗂…
  • stationery names…. that’s it! ☺
  • أدوات مكتبية!

My initial online search for “ruler” brought up “king, emporer”… Google Translate was not in a confidence boosting mood either… 🤔

Then… just when I was ready to concede defeat…. I am so excited to say! I found these sheets! I just had to share this with everyone!! After much searching I finally found, at ArabicWorksheets’s page on Pinterest, an ArabicWorksheet:

  • Word Search (with flashcards to cut out) on school / stationery supplies in Arabic!

Very timely! We also discovered some extra academic language we urgently needed to know too… but for now the correct names for the school/office supplies (أدوات مكتبية) we needed to buy.

The list of words/flashcards:

We printed 3 copies. One each. First we did our word searches.

Then we cut out two card sets, so we could laminate the cards to use for a “Learn the Stationery Word” “Fish” card game.

First we needed to work out the words and their pronunciation.

  • Pencil Sharpener – mubra – مِبْراة
  • Paperclip – mushbik – مِشْبَك
  • Ruler – mustara – مِسْطَرَة
  • Eraser – mumha – مِمْحاة
  • Pencil – qalam rasasun – قَلَم رَصاص
  • Envelope – Dharf – ظَرْف
  • Pen – qalam habar – قَلَم حِبْر ( This is an old ink pen so we changed it to قَلَم جاف – qalam jafun)
  • File – milafun – مِلَف
  • Calendar – taqwimun – تَقويم

 

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Let’s Learn “Arabic School Stationery Fish”…. 🐟🐠🐡

Goodness gracious! Not the swimming kind! The card kind!!! 🙄

Obviously I am going to need tea for this! ⛾

We mixed up our cards, each person got 4 to start, the rest went into the middle to the “fish” pile.

Then we checked our cards and the person going first asks:

** Do you have “mubra” (مبراة)?

– follow by the other person’s blank expression (usually mine) they said “Pencil sharpener”

Response

** yes – the other person hands over the card. The person records a pair and takes another turn.

** No! Go Fish! – the person asking for a card picks up a card from the centre to try and make a pair, the next person takes a turn.

Now… to learn the words for this game properly.

How do you say “Go Fish!” In Arabic?

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Learning to be a bilerate family…

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I have spent much time struggling… trying desperately to make head-or-tails from my husband’s first language, Arabic! Someone talks to me I still brain freeze and don’t know a single word of Arabic. I get through introductions sounding like an infant. Listening I am starting to understand more than just part conversations. Don’t ask me to prove it because I cannot pronounce half the words… or explain how I worked out the conversation…

A kind friend pointed out recently… “you know you could make life so much easier for yourself by not choosing languages in the band 5 or hardest languages for English speakers to learn. Didn’t you do Japanese too?”

Me: Sure and after seven years of study I cannot speak or understand it now, either. Although I can teach beginners quite well. 🙄

When your child looks up, stamping their feet to say, “There are too many kalimat! Noone else’s Mama makes them write a story in English then translate it to Arabi!”

Oh dear! Trying not to laugh… that sentence says it all… should I tell enlighten them…. (best tell you though… kalimat means “word” in Arabic. Arabi the Arabic pronunciation of Arabic. )

How many objections do I need to hear before this task is done? I should not laugh… but if the same level of attention was applied to the task as objecting it would be finished by now!

Then sitting down to the reading task at hand… again with the commentary! ….. “I cannot read this!” “It’s too hard!” “Why do I have to do this? Everyone speaks English anyway?” “Why do I have to be different?”

And finally we have the reason for the angst! Why do I have to be different?

 

“So… tell me, how does your child go with reading at home?”

This is rather amusing… Now that we escaped the class teacher at the school, moved a continent away, homeschooled full time for a year, rewrote all the learning to read and write programs, enrolled in Arabic school 3.5 hours a day and continue English reading at home… the English reading is 6-12 months ahead, the writing not great but at least legible and today ‘my totally failing school’ according to “that” teacher and his educational psychologist… his Arabic school results are in… 75% overall or a B on our normal scale! 100% in Maths and Art! Not one D insight!!! So I read my old post with amusement….

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Oh Help! Breathe! My sons “Reading Teacher” wants to see me!

Reading Teacher! What is a reading teacher anyway? I so did not sign up for this today! 15minutes notice…. who does 15minutes notice on an appointment…. storm brewing…. thunder rumbling…. raindrops starting to splatter across the windscreen…… 15 minutes and we can avoid nature’s 3 o’clock chaos sent to make parents appreciate nice sunny days! The little voice from the back seat again says “Mama did you hear me – my reading teacher wants to see me!”  Avoidance will work no longer!  I can’t do it…. we have to go back….

 

I am drawn to a thought that the wise women that blog about the needs of Gifted children keep reiterating….  Mama, you’ve got this!

 

My son started Year 2 this year…. it has always been a struggle for him. Reading and Writing do not come naturally for him.  His inquisitive nature has had him begging for youtube documentaries on his topics, audio books from the library (30mins drive to school each way leaves plenty of time for audiobooks), BBC DVD documentaries from the library and building in his world on minecraft.  He had a not so useful OT assessment but that is another story – just ensure you ask if the person doing the “dyslexia assessment” knows anything about dyslexia 😦 

At the beginning of the Year 2 term 1, in February this year, we completed the DORA online reading assessment…. it showed Kindergarten Spelling level, Year 1 reading level and Year 5 Verbal comprehension.  Maths problem solving (if someone read the problems) was around year 2/3 level. Maths on paper still needs help with correct number formation.

How do I politely say… I spoke to his class teacher and we started reading intervention already a specifically designed program catering for this Gifted kid. Yes I know my son ticks all the boxes for dyslexia and mildly dysgraphia.  He loves sport but playing with a pencil, is not sport!

 

Bilingual and Biliterate or Establishing an identity…

abstract-adult-background-1079033.jpgDetermining that many people do not realise that bilingual does not mean you can speak, read and write two languages… it means you can speak two languages.

Bilingualism by itself is a pretty big task…. but trying to find a community that is attempting an education in two languages…. not so easy!

Obviously growing up in Australia the option of meeting truly bilingual and biliterate people is a challenge. In many instances even the people you meet who are learning in two languages maybe bilingual but struggle to match their reading and writing skills in both languages.

I wonder why this is?

In many intances the nuances in a language are much easier to pick up if you can read the actual meaning and then the twist/ joke/amusement in the target language is much easier to determine. Nearly always the amusement, brought by word play, is totally lost in translation.

Why do many find it unnecessary to hold onto the language of their heritage, and their children only speak the language of the community?  Many children later in life hit a crisis when they realise half their world is missing. Children of refugees, too young to learn to read and write their own language in their country of origin and who struggle continually to learn to speak, read or write in their new country’s language, regardless of compulsory schooling, then feel a burden to society.  Trapped between two worlds. Fitting in neither as they are illiterate in both.  The education system in trying to help by insisting they go to school fails to recognise the need for these kids to start at the beginning. Whether they are 5, 9 or 14 they need to start in a class that teaches “A is for Apple, a a apple”. Teach them the community language and help them assimilate or teach them their country of origin’s language and give them their identity back. Either way we instil a sense of self-worth to a child that otherwise has no identity. Without feeling whole assimilation is not possible.

Surely we can adjust an education system to meet the needs of our children!

A mixture of thoughts…

Engaging a disinterested child in seemingly simple exercises is sometimes a very thankless task!

What happens if we assume instead that a child has a capacity to assimilate with their surroundings and submerge in the topic at hand?  Introducing a topic at a level you think they do not understand but allowing them the freedom to explore and question!

Articles:

https://atlaseducational.wordpress.com/2015/10/20/start-at-the-top/

http://dangerouslyirrelevant.org/2012/02/do-students-need-to-learn-lower-level-factual-and-procedural-knowledge-before-they-can-do-higher-order-thinking.html

Disparity in gifted education…

This week I am reading Piaget’s theories on child development in education (amongst other things his main study is development psychology)…

Whilst many of his theories have been proved/disproved accordingly I wonder if the basis of disparity in gifted education and particularly profoundly gifted kids education all arises from his belief that a child under 6 is incapable of the cognitive processes usually associated with 7-11 year olds?

It was written as a statement of fact. I am wondering… Whilst his other theories have been tested and adjusted accordingly, this statement appears to sit in the midst of the abyss unchallenged! Or as yet I can find no challenge for it. :/

Learning to write…تعلم الكتابة

Now that is a rather interesting challenge!

From Right-to-Left NOT Left-to-Right!

Different letters… that’s ok! They are kind letters which don’t make tricks! Unlike English ones that have all sorts of combinations and even the same spelling can be pronounced differently! Read and read! Live and Live! Hmmmm…..

So, Arabic…. let’s talk about a garden…

In the morning we walk in the garden.

.في الصباح نحن ندجل الحديقة

In the garden grows a tall tree.

.في الحديقة تنمو الشجرة عالية

And in the tree lives a green caterpillar.

.و في الشجرة يقيم السيرة الأخضر

The caterpillar eats many leaves.

.الاسبوع ياكل الورقة عديدة

 

Meanderings…

Sometimes thoughtful! Sometimes not!

An adventure waiting to happen…

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If I set forth on this path…

Following my three-year-old places is always at high speed…. he just moves forward… No concerns… as quickly as possible with no thoughts for the consequences his speed may deliver… delightful as always to see!

Thankfully,  this is always amusing to me, even if stressful… what you cannot see in this picture is the swirling deep waters of the river ambling by… just waiting to swallow the small creature if he escapes from his mother’s side.  And…. as with all small creatures they have a strange fascination with the deep dark depths of that swirling meandering stream!

Night time is coming… away from the park… a small voice from the backseat of the car calls out “Look Mum! An Asteroid!”

 

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“Look Mum! It’s an asteroid!”

 

Looking up I see a jet plane leaving a streamer of cloud across the sky…. with the setting sun’s rays making it almost luminous… I can see how the small boy calls out “Asteroid” excitedly….

 

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Travelling home

 

Time for a rest! Home again!