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Dyslexia Outside the Box - Equipping Dyslexic Kids to Not Just Survive but Thrive Review by DaLynn McCoy

Beth Ellen Nash
Wings to Soar
http://www.WingsToSoarOnline.com

Dyslexia carries a certain connotation in the education field, and in the homeschooling community it can strike fear in the hearts of parent-educators. Dyslexia Outside-the-Boxby Beth Ellen Nash teaches us that it doesn’t have to be that way! I had the pleasure of reading this book for review because I have at least one student in my homeschool who deals with dyslexia. Dyslexic kids are not broken; they are just wired to think in a way that is different from the standard tradition, and with access to the right tools and an equipped mentor or teacher, they can and are successful at school and at life.

Dyslexia Outside-the-Boxdefines dyslexia traditionally and scientifically, but then walks through a reinvented way to think about this different learning ability. In fact, Ms. Nash encourages us to not think about dyslexia as a disability, but about the strengths that this alternate method of thinking creates in our students. I really appreciated her effort to bring light to the strengths of my students, because all I’ve read about in the past is what he can’t do well or where he probably struggles. I’ve read precious little about what things he might be good at so that I can encourage him in those areas and utilize them to facilitate his better learning. As a homeschooling mom, that is my utmost goal, and I’m so appreciative of this resource to help me do that!

The book addresses the learning strengths and weaknesses associated with the dyslexic brain and with other language-oriented learning concerns. There is also a section about math learning and even considering issues like cognitive ability, organization skills, and executive function. I was surprised at the range encompassed by this resource and happy that it did so. Many of these concerns can go together, and it was nice to see them laid out in a format that I could think about and apply to my student.

Not only does Ms. Nash lay out the “what” of these concerns, but she also talks through some practical ways to address them within the educational setting. The book is not exclusively addressed to homeschoolers, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to a mom with a child in public school who was recently diagnosed with any of these concerns. But I think the practical usage will be most helpful to someone educating or assisting in the education of their own child.

That said, some of the explanation is a little bit technical, and I was happy to have had a least a little bit of teacher-education exposure through the convenience that several of my family members teach public school. Some of this reads a little bit like an objectives list and is a bit high-brow, but for someone who is digging in and really wants to understand what is going on with their student, I think it is well worth it to slow down, make an intention to grasp what is being said, and keep this resource on the shelf for future reference. I know that I’ll be going back to this book time and time again, not because it’s difficult to understand but because it is so chock full of knowledge and resources that I know I’ll need to remind myself as I formulate a plan for my student(s).

The sections of reading which address the what, who, and how of dyslexia take up only about one-third of the book. The rest of the book is made up of appendices with helpful information related to the chapter reading. Intervention options, accommodations, teaching tools, multi-sensory practice, high frequency word lists (best list I’ve ever seen!), phonological awareness exercises, and challenges that often co-exist with dyslexia make up the most of these. I was especially thankful for the portions on accommodations, the word lists, and on the co-existing challenges. Even the section on learning the jargon was helpful to me; this portion includes the bullet point definitions within the law of not only dyslexia but also several of the other learning concerns. I now feel like I understand everything my student is dealing with, as well as recognizing more specifically what might be going on with what I’ve previously thought was just obstinate resistance in one of my other students.

Ms. Nash does run an online school and offers specialized plans for students. The book will often point to those resources and emphasizes how her school and methods will help any student which might be described by the current reading. While the preface and introduction are a little overwhelming with this information, the rest of the book casually mentions it—usually near the end of the chapters after the technical aspects have been explained—and as excessively full of information as this book turned out to be, I don’t mind those references at all. In fact, I appreciated the notes about free placement testing at http://JustRightLevel.com and took those assessments for all four of my current students. It’s meant to lead into the online school, but is free and helpful even if that’s not what you intend to do. I will say that I will absolutely consider the help of Ms. Nash’s school because of this book and because of all the information she gives and the extent of the placement tests. As much as is being given away for free, here, this is absolutely the first place I will look when I am ready to spend money on intervention.

In the meantime, I am eternally thankful to Ms. Nash for the resources she has provided. I now feel much more equipped to handle the education of my students, and I have not read very many other resources. Dyslexia Outside-the-Box may be the only resource I need! Available for just $2.99 on kindle or $19.99 in paperback, I can say with confidence that this will be one of the best investments you make for your own information and for your child’s education.


-Product review by DaLynn McCoy, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2017

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