Help For Distracted And Struggling Readers

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

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Hey, homeschoolers! I interviewed Carol Barnier my first year doing The Homeschool Sanity Show and it was a privilege for me. I had heard her speak at conferences and had read her books and loved what she had to say. Carol is not only hilarious but is so wise in helping distracted students and moms. In today’s episode, we’ll discuss how to help kids who are not only distracted but struggle to read. If you have or know a student with dyslexia or other reading challenges, you’ll want to listen in.
Before I get to the interview, I want to share some background on why I created Grammar Galaxy the way I did. I had five active boys and a girl I taught with them. One of my sons who struggled to read phonetically also was highly distractible. I also taught language arts to friends’ students who had ADD, dyslexia, sensory processing disorder, poor reading fluency, and reading reluctance. They were all boys. I wanted to create the curriculum I never had. First, I used stories because I know they are engaging and memorable. They explain the why of grammar and not just the how. Next, I made the characters in the stories have struggles like my kids and students have. So often kids with learning challenges feel they are the only ones who don’t get it. Then I made the seatwork lessons very short. There is a lot of white space on the pages to motivate students. Kids can use highlighters to complete much of the work, rather than pencils that require fine motor skills that often don’t keep pace with other skills–especially in boys. I included an activity in every lesson that doesn’t involve traditional worksheets. I hear from moms of active kids how much they love the large motor activities. Finally, I allow kids to feel that their work is important because it is. Fully literate kids can improve their lives and make the world a better place. Try it for free with your child at

Carol Barnier

Now about my guest. Carol Barnier spent over 20 years as a homeschooling mom during which time she was also a busy and popular conference speaker. She created an online community for parents homeschooling highly distractible children called SizzleBop, which enjoyed a membership of over 5000 families. As a frequent radio guest and author of books and countless articles, she has shared a gazillion (the most real of numbers) tips on teaching and loving the highly distractible child. Today, she pours that same love of “teaching out of the box” into the child who struggles with reading. Through her new effort, Barton Buddy, she brings her multi-sensory support material (including new ditties!) and trademark sense of humor to the parent using the popular Barton Reading system at home with their own struggling reader, who may or may not have just fallen out of their chair. She’s the author of three books about dealing with (or possessing) a non-linear mind in a linear world. Her first book, How to Get Your Child Off the Refrigerator and On To Learning, gives the reader understanding into the mind of the highly distractible child. It answers the imponderable question, “Why does this child constantly fall out of his chair?” (hear the kathunk) It also provides idea after idea on how to teach a child who simply can’t sit still. Carol’s second book, If I’m Diapering a Watermelon, Then Where’d I Leave the Baby?, was born of the realization that her highly distractible son had not fallen very far from the tree. (hear the next kathunk) This book celebrates women who are non-linear thinkers, women who are the Mary’s in this very Martha world. It also provides strategies on how to keep the distractible mind on track while taking advantage of the gifts that come with being gloriously unregimented. Her third book, The Big WHAT NOW Book of Learning Styles, takes all the mystery and complexity OUT of learning styles. This book keeps it simple, and puts its emphasis on the “What do we do now?” It takes each academic subject and then provides dozens of ideas on how to teach it from a variety of angles to a variety of learning styles. It makes teaching the atypical learner not only easy, but fun. No really, it does. Her very popular Ditty Bugs CD brings the power of rhythmical language to a variety of memorization tasks. Does your child struggle to remember fraction rules? Can they name all the presidents in order? How about the planets, the classification system, number of feet in a mile? Through simple ditties, your child will almost effortlessly absorb facts and formulas that they need in their academic subjects. Carol and I discuss: To connect with Carol, go to Join me next time as I share motivation myths that can hamper our homeschooling. Have a happy homeschool week!


  1. Thanks for your great insight and resource for the homeschooling community! It was very exciting to hear my app, SnapType, mentioned in the podcast! I actually created it when I was an occupational therapy graduate student. I’m now a registered and licensed OT and a mom! I love serving this community and helping to break down the barriers to education. Thanks to you both as well, and keep up your good work! 💪

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