At-home literacy and spelling help for seniors?
December 7, 2008 11:19 AM   Subscribe

One of my neighbours has asked me for some advice and I'm pretty dumbfounded. A senior (~80yo) that she knows has said that he'd like to learn to write and spell, but she has no clue where to start. So, what resources are out there that could be of help?

Some more info about the situation:

- The problem is mostly with the writing side of literacy (he can read and comprehend newspapers). He's more bothered by stuff like not being able to write words and sentences properly, not being able to tell if something he wrote is spelled incorrectly, etc.

- Undiagnosed dyslexia is a likely factor.

- He probably would not want to attend classes, because of bad experiences with teachers in the past.

- He has access to a computer and the internet, but he is not terribly computer/net-savvy. His keyboarding would be very hunt-and-peck. Software could be installed for him and he could be helped with learning how to use the programs, though.

- Nothing too childish, as he'd be a bit humiliated by that sort of thing.

- Freeware or free websites are preferable. Paying for software or books isn't completely out of the question, but they'd have to be on the inexpensive side. Fixed income and all that.
posted by CKmtl to Education (5 answers total)
You might see if various color techniques help him; Irlen Syndrome and dyslexia often overlap. My sister has this problem. I know you said he can read and understand things okay, but this may help.

Something as small and inexpensive as a colored-gel overlay for pages or printing grammar/spelling lessons, tips or tests on the right colored paper could make a huge difference.

They also make colored lenses just for this that aren't prescription.

Here's a link to America's Literacy Directory, too.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:33 AM on December 7, 2008

This organization offers one-on-one home-based tutoring in English to adults in the Montreal metropolitan area : Reclaim. This might help remove some of the classroom stigma, and I imagine that you could work with the organization to find a tutor that's a good match.

Fondation Alpha also runs the bilingual Info-alpha hotline that could probably recommend some home-based pedagogically sound resources that could be found in local libraries, etc.
posted by MissSquare at 11:36 AM on December 7, 2008

I realize you are looking for something different, but I wanted to mention that Catholic Charities in many areas have adult education and literacy programs that are tailored to the needs of the recipient. If there is one in your area, they may be able to point out other resources if nothing else. And for a certain segment of the adult education population, they are a perfect fit. They expect folks with bad previous educational experiences.

I've known a couple people that worked at and ran a CC Adult Literacy program. Proselytizing by staff is unlikely (and frowned upon to my knowledge) and it doesn't matter what religion you are.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 1:04 PM on December 7, 2008

It's worth mentioning that Adult Literacy tutors are likely super sensitive to issues with bad experiences with education in the past. I trained as an Adult Literacy tutor and this was really emphasized in our training as it is a factor for many people who end up with literacy problems in adult life. I'm in the UK so I can't offer specific advice as to where to find help but you can probably find what you are looking for a the National Adult Literacy Database. (Canadian based). Your local library might also be a good port of call.
posted by tallus at 1:32 PM on December 7, 2008

Response by poster: From what my neighbour has said, I don't think he'd like the idea of even the one-on-one tutoring unless it's someone he already knows.

It's not so much that the adult literacy tutors wouldn't be qualified or sensitive about it, but rather that he just wouldn't want to have anything to do with people in "teacher" positions. The bad experiences weren't just with his own teachers when he was young, but also with his kids' teachers and school administrators (some of whom were really lousy, judging by how he talks about them).
posted by CKmtl at 4:54 PM on December 7, 2008

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