One of my students capably divides words into syllables but often struggles to say the sounds embedded within them. One morning, after accurately decoding the word “monopoly,” he said,
“Mon-op, mon-op, mon-op-plee, mon-op-plee-uh.”
As I headed out the door following tutoring, his mom touched me gently on the sleeve and said, “It was so hard to hear him struggle to say ‘Monopoly.’ It’s his favorite game.”
Dyslexia is a language processing disorder. While a dyslexic child can typically hear sound effectively, his brain cannot detect the difference between spoken sounds. For this reason, most dyslexic students struggle to learn to read. But the tentacles of dyslexia reach well beyond the discipline of reading; dyslexic students often demonstrate weaknesses in articulation and vocabulary.
Because reading is foundational to all academic disciplines, a parent’s first priority in teaching a dyslexic student is to teach him to read effectively. But once reading is well in hand, I encourage parents to teach Latin as a way of strengthening their dyslexic student’s deficiencies in language. One half of the words of the words we use are derived from Latin. Dyslexic students will strengthen their vocabulary and more comfortably articulate sophisticated language by studying Latin.
Students read more quickly and easily words with which they have some familiarity. While “variation” can be difficult to decode, it’s much easier to read if the student recognizes the word as he’s sounding it out. The stronger the database of language within a child’s mind, the more likely he’ll develop into a capable reader. By studying Latin, a dyslexic student will construct a reservoir of sophisticated words from which to draw as he reads.
While a dyslexic student can learn to read effectively, he often struggles to articulate the words which he’s decoded. This condition, called the “jam in the articulation system” can be immensely frustrating, leading him to believe he’s far less intelligent than his seemingly articulate peers. Latin provides the opportunity for a student to practice articulating the words which form the foundation of his own language.
In order for parents to confidently teach Latin to their dyslexic students, I highly recommend Classical Academic Press’s Latin for Children. A dyslexic student thrives in an educational environment which offers clear structure and predictability. Latin for Children offers both. Each chapter is formatted in exactly the same way; once your student has completed the first chapter, he’ll know exactly what to expect from the remaining chapters. But equally important is the audio component to Latin for Children. While a dyslexic student can learn by reading, he often retains and recalls information better which has been learned auditorily. A dyslexic student will enjoy listening to grammar explained and vocabulary articulated.
Dyslexia is a rare gifting; my students are highly intelligent, analytical, spatially oriented, and creative. But the deficiencies dyslexia creates in reading, vocabulary and articulation can prevent a dyslexic student from fully participating in an academic setting. Classical Academic Press’s Latin for Children addresses these deficiencies in language while exposing students to one of the world’s oldest and richest surviving languages.