Twice Exceptional

I came across the term “Twice Exceptional” while reading Gifted Voices.   I had to look up its meaning:

“Twice exceptional (or 2E students) are sometimes also referred to as double labelled, or having dual exceptionality. These are gifted students whose performance is impaired, or high potential is masked, by a specific learning disability, physical impairment, disorder, or condition. They may experience extreme difficulty in developing their giftedness into talent.”

When I studied Remedial Education, I quickly realized that many children with learning difficulties were often gifted.  Once I started teaching, I also recognized that many gifted children presented behavioural problems, often similar to those of children with learning difficulties, due to their boredom and frustration with the school system. They often struggled to fit in and seldom discovered their unique gifting and wonderful abilities.

Describing 2E children, TKI explains,

“Gifted students with disabilities are at-risk as their educational and social/emotional needs often go undetected. Educators often incorrectly believe twice-exceptional students are not putting in adequate effort within the classroom. They are often described as ‘lazy’ and ‘unmotivated’.  Hidden disabilities may prevent students with advanced cognitive abilities from achieving high academic results. 2E students perform inconsistently across the curriculum. The frustrations related to unidentified strengths and disabilities can result in behavioural and social/emotional issues.”

Because a child struggles with their uniqueness or outside-of-the-box, or have different social-emotional needs, they struggle  in the conventional school system.  Many parents face the dilemma  of whether to stick to the school system or to homeschool their gifted or twice-exceptional child.  My advice is that you look for a place where your child can thrive, grow, learn and “become” in the most supportive, loving environment, which is usually at home!

Homeschool parents can tailor-make their educational approach to work with their child’s strengths, while gently encouraging them to strengthen areas of weakness.  Because you work one-on-one with your child, you can immediately determine where and when your child is bored or struggles, and adjust your pace or approach.

You can seamlessly include motivation, opportunities, therapy and remedial activities as part of your homeschooling for children with illnesses, disabilities or disorders.  Most remedial therapy is presented as games, and often children enjoy these fun activities.  Therapy varies.  Most children initially require therapy regularly, but as they master skills, these activities can be moderated or stopped.  Some children perform better with a therapist, because they may resist or refuse at home, while most therapy requires regular “homework” or practice.  Whatever your approach, try avoid instilling in your child a sense of failure or disappointment, or that the child has, or worse still, is a problem.

Homeschooling your twice exceptional child helps you establish a steady routine which is important when dealing with complex problems or disabilities.  Parents can establish a  healthy or specific diet as well as good sleeping patterns, and these routines and practices are often very helpful in assisting a 2E child.

Most importantly, your homeschooled child is allowed to progress at his/ her own pace without feeling that he/she isn’t the same as the rest of the class.  Avoid comparisons at all costs, not even one child with another in your home.  Avoid labels.  No one wants to know that his/ her person is a medical/ behavioural disorder.  Speak of their condition in positives, “My daughter loves to move … to learn well.”

Try find a homeschool family or support group that you and your child can cope with and where you find grace and encouragement.  Having a “different” child can often make one feel isolated and insecure.  Support groups are very helpful to assist parents who often feel overwhelmed and discouraged.

My youngest daughter would probably have required remedial therapy when she was young, but my husband, in such wisdom, encouraged me to let her be and to encourage her to learn in her own time.  We patiently persevered and it has wonderfully paid off.  From a struggling emerging reader, she is now our bibliophile and most avid reader in our home!

It may not seem like it now, but you will see your child grow and develop into the most marvelous person that they were created to become.   Do not give up!

With all grace and blessings, Nadene

Slow learner Joys discovered

It is possible to experience joy when teaching a slow learner.  Let me encourage you and share my experience of how I discovered joy instead of anxiety.

If my youngest child had been in regular school, she would certainly have discovered that she took a lot longer than her peers to learn.  In those fragile years, I’m sure she would have been labeled a “slow learner”.   But instead, in the privacy and comfort of our home, she flourished at her own pace.

It came as a shock to discover that my very young child couldn’t remember nursery rhymes. Despite daily repetition, the words floated past her memory and she could only tell me the theme of the rhyme, but not the words themselves.  “Auditory memory issues?” my remedial-teacher brain whispered.  Then, I discovered quite by chance, that if she acted out the nursery rhyme she remembered it well. “Okay … she’s a kinesthetic learner.”

Learning the alphabet took much longer than with my other kids at her age.  Maths skip counting missed beats, and learning to read seemed to take forever.  She desperately wanted to read.  It was this inner drive that kept her working and working on her skills.   I must add that this is what is quickly lost in school systems!  Kids feel shame and fear and lose their love to learn.   They dread being exposed and hide or avoid reading in any form.

But safe at home, daily she would come to me with her little readers to read to/ with me.    I learnt to slow things down to the place where she flourished … partnered readingme whispering the words in her ear as she pointed and sounded out the words. This went on for ages. I just kept sitting with her on my lap reading with her for months and months and months.

And then, one day, she simply took off! And my emerging reader became an independent reader! We were both overjoyed!

20161006_162405My youngest daughter is now 14 years old and is an avid reader of adult classical books.  She has her own collection of classic books, preferably hard covers, that she scouts for at secondhand book stores, and she reads and re-reads these every moment she can.

If my hubby hadn’t kept me in check, I probably would have taken my child to a therapist to evaluate her and start some remedial program, but, instead, in faith, we simply followed her pace and allowed her to learn as she was ready.

Shawna writes in a recent post on Simple Homeschool “In celebration of the slow learner“,

“I think it is infinitely more important that our children feel confident in their ability to learn something, than in how long it may or may not take to actually learn it.  Speed has never been the goal. Mastery, progress, confidence – these are all things that take time, and that are worth the wait.”

May I urgently suggest that you homeschool your struggling slow learner.  Bring them home and save them the misery and shame of failure and labelling.  Do it now!  Don’t wait for the end of year or a term.  Homeschooling allows you to tailor-make their education experience.  Aim to relax.  Follow a gentle pace.  Don’t fret about “trying to catch up”.  I want to state this with absolute confidence — your child will learn when they are ready.

Secondly, if you feel the need to have your child evaluated, pray for and look for a remedial therapist with compassion, humour and patience.   Ask other parents how they and their children feel about the therapist before taking your child to their first session.  And in my experience, this is not a permanent situation.  Remedial therapy is a temporary help to overcome weaknesses.  As your child improves, she will not require therapy.   Don’t fall into the trap of doing hours of boring, dull, repetitive remedial exercises.  Don’t allow your child to feel like she has “a problem”.  Worse still, don’t allow them to feel that they are a burden.

Most importantly — pray.  The Lord showed me how precious and special my child was just as she is and not as I felt she should be.  I learnt to trust Him and follow His lead.  His joy and boundless love for her enabled me to love and nurture my child.

Mom, do not fret about your slow learner.  Do not weep.  This is your special gift … to learn to love uniquely.  To love without fixing.  To love without wanting to change someone. To love patiently, with hope.  Such love never fails.

Praying for you … for much grace, courage and strength!  Blesssings, Nadene







Practical Tip ~ Textmapping

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~

Text Mapping

Text-mapping is an excellent technique that helps a child to differentiate and identify areas of a text using highlighters.   Textmapping guides the child to circle, underline or draw boxes around sections, headings, text, illustrations, dates and important vocabulary This provides the child with an overview of all the text and reinforces pre-reading skills.

Copied pages of a textbook chapter or relevant pages are pasted together to form one long scroll.

Drawing of a scroll that has been marked with highlighters and colored markers. Shows margin notes and certain key features circled, colored and otherwise marked.
Textmapping color codes
  • Textmapping is excellent for all non-fiction books and textbooks.
  • This method emphasizes pre-reading skills.  They haven’t read the text itself yet, but have navigated the entire article.
  • Textmapping is a very effective tool for special-needs/ remedial students or weak readers as it helps the student identify different areas of the text and isolate smaller sections where they can use pre-reading skills to break down the text.  Colors define specific areas and they can easily isolate a heading with its accompanying passage and ignore the rest of the text.
  • This skill is particularly important for middle schoolers who are suddenly faced with longer chapters or several pages of their books, textbooks.
  • It is also good for high schoolers who need to summarize large sections of information or review work for tests or exams.
  • Textmapping helps students break down into manageable sections to summarize,  or plan, or prepare for projects and presentations.
  • This method is excellent for group work.
  • Textmapping enables teachers to clearly and explicitly model reading comprehension, writing and study skills using a model scroll or on an example on a smartboard.
  • The complete layout of a scroll gives the child an excellent overview ~ great for global learners.
  • Because of its length, the child must move (crawl on the floor or walk along a row of desks) along it, zoom in or out, to interact with the text ~ excellent for kinesthetic learners.
  • Marking is very physical and hands-on ~ wonderful for the tactile learner.
  • The colored markings  are very clear and everything can be seen at a glance ~ fabulous for the visual learner.
  • Scrolls and text mapping provide a better fit with the learning strengths of ADHD individuals ~ helps children who have learning disabilities or attention deficits.

Because this method involves printing out several pages in color, I have adapted the method to work directly in the book and we use colored post-it tabs and colored sticky notes which we map areas and sections without marking expensive books or library books.  I have also experimented with plastic page protectors cut open down one side to slide over a page and we use colored whiteboard markers.

Please read for textmapping basic and see all the examples in my original post Textmapping.  Download my Text Mapping notes on textmapping.

Read more ~







CM Remedial Course for older child

A reader recently asked ~

I will begin remedial tutoring with a 14-year-old Grade 7 learner whose reading and writing skills are really only at a Grade 4 level, in the hope that he will make steady progress, ideally gradually catching up to his peers in a few years.

I am not a qualified remedial teacher, but have taught and tutored for many years, so I am mature and experienced. We have agreed that in the beginning (at least) we need to focus primarily on his language literacy, with a secondary, optional focus on homework.

I wonder what materials you have that I could use to develop his reading and writing skills? Please indicate the cost of the materials you suggest.

Apparently he is a confident, articulate and socially able young man.

Here is my advice ~

Dear reader,

I am also not an experienced remedial teacher, but I have found that the Charlotte Mason approach works with pupils of all ages, abilities and needs, in a way that is interesting, inspiring and educational.  Remedial ed does not have to be “dumbed down” to Grade 4 content, but rather to establish reading, comprehension, narration and writing skills.

  • Select a really interesting book and read aloud a chapter (perhaps a shorter passage if he struggles at first) and have your student narrate back orally what you read.
  • Narrations are the student’s recall of the details, order of events and words used in the story. It should be as detailed, accurate and flowing as possible.  The teacher does not prompt, correct or interrupt, but should smile, nod and reflect interest in the narration.  This is a complex skill and takes practice!
  • Try partnered reading = where you sit side by side and read aloud together.  First you read aloud with him whispering next to you for a paragraph or page. Then his turn to read aloud while you whisper next to him.  This reinforces the child’s reading skills and affirms their ability to decode and read more fluently.
  • Add expression (inflection, voice dropping down or rising) at punctuation marks; small pauses, voice lowering at commas, longer pauses with voice lowering at full stops, to reinforce grammar rules.
  • From oral narrations of small passages, extend the skills to dictated narration notes from longer sections of reading.
    • The teacher captures the dictated flow of thought, making no alterations, additions or corrections.
    • The teacher reads the narration back to the student.
    • The student then may suggest any changes.
    • This narration demonstrates the student’s ability and provides excellent feedback for further remedial work that is needed.
    • No grammar or spelling corrections at this point.  Make note of spelling rules or grammar laws needed and include these in LA passages as described below.
  • Pre-reading skills are important. Establish phonic rules and explain any vocabulary that he may come across in the passage before reading aloud.
  • From dictated notes, try textmapping, building word banks, writing key phrases on a white board or note paper before asking him to write his own narrations.
  • Practice writing with copywork.
  • For LA (Language Arts) select a meaningful sentence/ paragraph from the passage and examine its grammar.  Simple exercises such as ~
    • highlight all the capital letters
    • underline all the proper nouns
    • tick all the commas … why are they used here?
    • circle the phrase in the first sentence.  Read the sentence again without the phrase.  What happens?
    • write adj above all the adjectives that describe nouns
    • draw arrows pointing down to all the verbs.  Can you think of 2 other verbs that could replace each one?
    • Find synonyms in the passage for …
    • Write your own antonyms for these words in the passage …
    • Add any spelling rules if applicable
    • Find all the words ending with -ing or -ed.  What does this ending tell us about the verb tense?
  • Include a creative writing exercise that flows from the theme or topic of that passage such as ~
    • Write your own dialogue between the 2 characters …
    • Write a postcard to your best friend telling him what happened …
    • Write a newspaper report/ police report of the situation.
    • Draw a comic strip of the passage.
    • Write a play/ TV drama with the characters and scene described …
    • Write your own beginning/ending to this situation.
  • Use the computer for writing activities.
    • The spell check is very helpful, as are the grammar hints.
    • Also, rough drafts can be easily edited and printed without completely re-writing the passage.
    • Teach him to use the thesaurus, insert clip art, work in tables and create columns.

Before long, he will confidently narrate and complete LA assignments, and his writing skills should improve dramatically.

You can find very useful information in Ruth Beechick’s books, especially “You can Teach Your Child Successfully“. She lays out really simple, practical advice, lessons and skills that a teacher, mentor or parent can follow. You will find Ruth Beechick’s ISBN book numbers and all my Charlotte Mason posts on my blog.

Apart from the Ruth Beeschick books, you could loan the story books from your local library and there should be no real costs to facilitate a really solid remedial course.  Better still, you can use his own magazines and borrow or use books on topics he is passionate about.

Wishing you all the very best,

Is it b or d? New Posters for b/d Reversal

Aren’t these posters gorgeous?

They so clearly show the difference between b and d.

Here is your free download ~ bed or deb posters

Mari Saaiman created these lovely graphics.

You can see my other posts with Games for b/d reversal and letter confusion and some gentle encouragement when there are problems.


Sliding Sound Blends for reading practice

I needed some remedial activities to reinforce my youngest child’s reading and spelling,

I used my very useful reference book, Remedial Education in the Primary School, by M.C. Grove’ and H.M.A.M Hauptfleisch, pg.155, for some hands-on reading practice tools.

These authors state that,

“Reading, spelling and word-building are very closely related and exert a reciprocal influence on one another.  For the purpose of remedial teaching this fact must always be borne in mind and reading, spelling and word-building should be treated as a unit.”

So, in a nutshell, children must recognize letter sounds to read and spell.

I went ahead and made some …

Sliding strips and frames to reinforce sound blends and practice reading.

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I would love to share these with you all!

Please click here for your download ~ Sound Blend Strips

Some practical tips:

  • I covered mine strips with clear tape, but you could laminate them or put clear contact adhesive plastic over yours for durability.  (These strips are handled a lot!)
  • Tape the strips together where they run over 2 pages to create 1 long strip.
  • Leave the top sound blends heading on each strip so that you can put it in the correct frame if it falls out.
  • The sound blend strip and frame are the same colour, so they are easy to match.
  • Store the slide strips in a large Ziplock bag in your remedial file.
  • Store the child’s slide strip/s for the week in a smaller Ziplock bag in their file/ workbox.
  • Select just a few slide strips (or 1 long one) for each week.
  • The child must write those words formed for spelling.
  • They  must practice reading and spelling daily for a week or until the child has mastered the blends.

How do these strips fit into my reading and spelling program?

This would be your progression before you can use the sliding strips:

1. A child must learn all the letter sounds of the alphabet;

a for apple, b for ball, c for cat and so on.

(I have had amazing success with the ABBAcard system where each letter has the picture of its sound in the letter shape.  i.e: a dog in the d, an umbrella in the u, etc.  They have a large wall chart which we look at and read aloud together for several days until my child can read the alphabet without any help.  They have a set of the same picture alphabet with pictures on cards.  We play snap and build 3-letter words with the cards.)  But, what ever your program is, make sure your child know letters by their sound first!

Only once the child knows letter sounds for the alphabet very well, should the letter names be introduced.

2. The child can now learn alphabet names;

a = ay, b = bee, c = see and so on.  I usually introduce a chart with capital letters next the lower case letters and we sing the alphabet song.

3. Next the child must learn basic letter blends;

sh-, th-, ch-, -mp, ee-, oo-, str-, and so on.

4.  Now we can practice reading with the sound blend strips.

  • Introduce the blends.
  • Start the slide and say the new word with the first letter.
  • Allow the child to read all the new words.
  • Challenge the child to find these new words in their readers.  You’ll be amazed at how they spot all “their” new words!

5. Practice spelling the new sound blend words.

  • Practice spelling on a white board.
  • Let them write these words in their spelling list sheet.
  • When you test spelling, always give the word in a sentence.
  • Let your children make up silly sentences using as many of the words as they can.
  • Older children can write out the dictated sentences in their tests.
  • Use these words for weekly spelling and add thematic vocabulary for older children.

Hope this helps other struggling readers and spellers!