One of the more popular search terms that brings people to my blog is some variation of "Dianne Craft." I had written a post a little while back called "My Take On Dianne Craft" in which I talk about some reservations that I have with her take on right-brained learners.
I do want to say again, that I do understand that her approach can be very helpful and she has obviously helped a lot of right-brained learners and their parents. If you have found her advice helpful, that is great! I am all for what works. And I do believe that some of her advice can be helpful.
My only criticism is, as I wrote previously, that I see a lot of her emphasis to be on fitting right-brained kids into the left-brained learning model (albeit with right-brained approaches) rather than on celebrating their unique and very valid learning style. Instead of questioning whether the "normal" timetables for reading and writing are "normal" for right-brained learners, she gives advice on how to help your right-brained learner keep up.
What Cindy offers on the Homeschooling Creatively list and in her talks is not only a different way of approaching learning with right-brained learners, but also a different timetable, taking into account the normal right-brained development process which is different than that found in the traditional school model.
Recently, I received a comment on that post. Nanette wrote:
I can appreciate some of what you have to say concerning your "take" on Dianne Craft. But, I have a son that is turning 10 next week and still struggles to sound out three letter, short vowel words and has a reading level ( writing too) that would probably be considered first grade. What would you do in this case.....just let it go until he is older and can grasp phonics? I`m just too afraid to do that.
I can understand your worry and no, I am certainly not recommending that you let it go until he is older and can grasp phonics. My advice actually would be to ditch the phonics all together. Phonics is a very left-brained approach...it is sequential (part-to-whole), whereas right-brained learners are more global (whole-to-part). My oldest son did not learn to read using phonics and while he can "sound out" words, it still is not how he learns new words.
Cindy has a great page called Reading and the Creative Process: Parental Role Ideas in which she talks about things that parents can do to help their right-brained children on the path to reading.
I was relieved when I when I came across Dianne`s program. I had tried to teach my son phonics for three years! Using color, humor and pictures seems to be helping him and may be a very helpful tool for his future when he has to learn/remember things that he can`t seem to learn and remember.
I can definitely appreciate your relief and I can imagine how frustrating it has been for you trying to find something that works. There are a couple of things that I would mention in regards to this.
The first point being that right-brained kids tend to develop their 3D visual processing first, and then around the ages of 8-10 years old, they start developing their 2D sequential processing. Which means that it is "normal" for reading to not start until the 8 to 10 year old time frame. Starting to "teach reading" at 6 or 7 can be frustrating because the right-brained child often is not developmentally ready for it. And if they are not developmentally ready for it, it is not going to happen, no matter what approach you use. You will often hear about children who were put into "remediation programs" which all of a sudden "worked" around 8 or 9 years of age. These programs "worked" because the child was finally developmentally ready.
The second point that I want to make is that the most common approach used to teach children to read, phonics, actually goes counter to a right-brained child's natural learning style. As I mentioned above, phonics relies on areas that are weaknesses for right-brained learners.
So what often happens is that right-brained learners are taught to read earlier than they are developmentally ready using an approach that works counter to their natural learning style. In some instances, the child can adjust and learns despite these factors. In others, the child struggles and finds learning to read difficult.
These difficulties can be avoided, however, by waiting until the child is ready and using an approach that is more aligned with their strengths rather than their weaknesses. Jason learned to read just before he turned 8. You can read about our journey here. Although he was "late" to start reading, learning to read actually came easily and he is a strong reader. And best yet, he does not see himself as a poor or struggling reader at all.
This is one of the reasons that I talk so much about right-brained learners on this blog. To help parents better understand how their kids think...this understanding made such a world of difference in our homeschooling.
I also seem to find from the reading I`ve done on "right brained learners" , "auditory processing dysfunction" and "dyslexia" to have many areas of vagueness. It seems that there are plenty of conclusions that are really, possibly not factual or just opinions and conclusions from those authors. That leaves this mom needing to pray and then try to do what she feels best. That`s why when I could have bought a hefty, expensive program for dyslexic kids I decided to pass on it and use Dianne`s program which I find easy and enjoyable. This is the same reason I decided to not do formal testing.
I agree that there are tons of different labels out there for our right-brained kids. And lots of different "fixes" available. Many people see right-brained learning as a disability...yet really it is a different way of learning. Yes, there are weak areas, just as we all have weak areas. The "disability" often comes more into play when you try teach counter to their natural learning style.
I don't doubt that Dianne's approach is much easier than those that you have used in the past. And at 10 years old, your son is much more developmentally ready than he was at 6 or 7. A "right-brained phonics program", however, is still a phonics program, which again is using a right-brained weakness rather than a strength.
I was wondering if you could share some of your resources where you have read about "right brainers" and what convinced you to go in the educational direction that you did?
Most definitely! You can read more about our right-brained learning journey here. And if you have not noticed it, I have a lot of resources and links listed in the left sidebar (Links, FAQ, Book List). The reason I have gone the route that I have is because it works for us. Cindy's Collaborative Learning Process has rung uncannily true for us. I understand how Jason learns much better which makes it easier to find resources as well as to know whether to push in certain areas of not.
Now, if Dianne's program is working for your son, that is great. I am all for what works. I am most definitely not "against" it. But I also would invite you to join Homeschooling Creatively and to keep reading about right-brained learners and how they learn. It may be a subtle difference...between that of finding right-brained approaches to make it easier to fit in a left-brained timetable and that of discovering the unique learning strengths and development timetables that our right-brained learners have. But this paradigm shift has made a major difference for us and that is why I write and share our story.