Homeschooling with Davis Symbol Mastery

child molding letters with clayThe Davis Symbol Mastery program is ideal for parents who are homeschooling, or for after school activities and enrichment. The use of Symbol Mastery is not restricted to children who have learning difficulties, but is a helpful tool for all learners. Some advantages of using Symbol Mastery are:

The Davis Symbol Mastery Program & Homeschooling

It’s Adaptable for All Ages

Symbol Mastery is a study method that can be adapted for and will appeal to students of any age. Several children in a homeschooling family can work with clay at the same time, on very different levels. A 4-year-old might be learning to roll and shape the clay, and starting on the first letters of the alphabet. His 7-year-old sister might be working through the word list contained in the Symbol Mastery manual. Their 10-year-old sibling could use the same techniques to master new terms encountered in reading a science book.

It’s Self-Paced and Individualized

With Symbol Mastery, the child moves at his own speed and according to his own comfort level. There are no worksheets to complete or written tests. Further, it rests on a concept that should be embraced by all homeschoolers–mastery. Mastery means that the child will fully understand a particular idea or concept before moving on, whether it is an aspect of reading, math, or any other area of study. Once mastered, there is no need for repetition or drill.

It’s Compatible with Any Curriculum

Symbol Mastery also fits in with whatever approach to homeschooling is followed. A parent following a structured schedule of instruction at home would probably create a specific time and place for Symbol Mastery. A parent who “unschooled” might prefer to leave the clay, dictionary, and a word list accessible at all times, encouraging but not requiring the child to do Symbol Mastery at any set time.

It’s Ideal for Beginning Readers

Symbol Mastery is an ideal way to introduce children age 4 and up to reading concepts, and to provide a beginning reading vocabulary. It gives children an understanding of both the meanings of connective words and their logical relation to other words in the sentence. This increases comprehension skills. Symbol Mastery also provides an important bridge between reading methods based on phonics instruction and those based on a broad exposure to children’s literature.

To do Symbol Mastery at home, you will need the following items:

  • Non-hardening plasticene clay.
  • Printed Samples of Letters, Numerals, and Punctuation Marks.
  • An illustrated children’s dictionary.
  • A Grammar Book.

The Gift of DyslexiaThe book The Gift of Dyslexia explains the steps of Davis Symbol Mastery, as well as providing instructions for other Davis tools for mental self-regulation and for building reading fluency and comprehension.  For homeschoolers, a Davis kit is a terrific investment, as it can be used for many years and shared among all the children in the family.


The Davis Young Learner’s Kit is geared to primary level children, age 5-7. It includes an instruction book which explains modifications of Davis techniques geared to younger children, and suggestions for multiple fun and engaging learning activities.

The Davis Orientation and Symbol Mastery Kit provides all materials needed for working with children ages 8 and up. The Davis techniques integrate well with any curriculum, and provide an approach that can be applied to a wide variety of subjects at multiple reading levels.

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  • Claudia E

    Homeschool mom here, I have a 14 year old that I have tried everything with. He is so bright but thinks he is not because he can’t read hardly at all. I have tried tons of things and am so frustrated myself. I know he is brilliant. He can find anything we can’t. He is a walking GPS. He can tear something apart and fix it. But at this point cannot take drivers training because he will feel stupid when they ask him to read in class. My heart breaks for him.

    I have looked at Dianne Craft and this Davis program. I am not sure which one to do. I am drawn to this because of the clay and he is artistic. I have 5 kids and he has struggled the most.

    If I do this, how do I do this. Where do I start? Lead me please. Right now I am doing dyslexia gold. I am not convinced it is doing a thing, accept take my money. Maybe it is, but I notice little advancement when we read together. I think he is a good guesser.

    Thanks for your time.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      As your son is 14 – it’s probably best to let him decide. Davis Facilitators only work with self-motivated and willing learners. If it is something that your son wants, you will probably have very smooth sailing and rapid progress. As a first step you can read parts of The Gift of Dyslexia aloud to him — that will help both of you decide whether Davis is the right fit for your family.

  • Clare

    My 9 year old granddaughter has been diagnosed as dyslexic.She lives in Spain where she learns three languages at school: Spanish, Catalan and English. She is very bright but struggling with her reading and writing and finds maths very difficult. What approach would you recommend for her maths and to help her to read and write? She speaks all three languages fluently but would it be more helpful for her to focus on just one language?

  • Patty C

    Please explain the importance of teachers temperament while working with a child on reading together.
    Thank you

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      That’s a very important observation — and especially important in the homeschooling context. Anything that can cause emotional upset to the child will also tend to make reading more difficult. Do you have specific questions or concerns that you want to discuss?

  • Veronica L

    I am a Math Tutor assisting children dealing with Dyslexia –
    Do you have a Math Book and specific tools for Teaching Math?
    Even better, do you offer training for tutoring/teaching math?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Our approach to addressing math difficulties is outline in detail in the book, The Gift of Learning. You can also read a summary of the program here:

      We sell some math dictionaries at our online shop, at – the dictionaries are important because much of our work is based on using clay to model word meanings and concepts. Because dyslexic students process language differently, dyslexic students’ math problems often stem from confusion about word meaning, and often words that have one meaning in common use have a different meaning when used to represent mathematical functions or concepts.

      We do offer training in our math techniques, but it is an advanced course open only to individuals who have first completed the basic, 4-day Gift of Dyslexia course. More information about our training offerings is here:

  • Shereengul

    Hi. Am from Pakistan ! I need your guidelines being a dyslexia parents .why do not translate book in Urdu ??how can I got licences online traing program from dd association ?thx

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Sheerengul, I am sorry but The Gift of Dyslexia has not been translated to Urdu. Because professional training for Davis requires that students work in a participatory, supervised setting, we also do not offer online training.

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