Cammie Arn & Amy Vickrey MSE

 

Are you worried about teaching high school math for a struggling student? Before you start stressing, it is important to understand that many of your fears can be easily averted before your student even starts high school.  How? By answering 6 key questions that will help you take more confident steps forward based on what your student needs and how to meet those needs by choosing the right curriculum and/or setting the proper goals.

 

What math skills will my student need to know for life?

When considering math, one strategy is to focus on the skills your child needs to know for life. A program that teaches money management, cooking math, math skills for fixing small things around the house, and other daily tasks is just as important as completing algebra and geometry and sometimes is more important than completing these traditional high school math courses.

 

What are your student’s post-high school goals?

To determine what kind of math your child needs, first consider where your child is headed after high school. What are their plans? What are their goals? Is your student planning to go to college? Or, are they planning to attend a trade school? What kind of entrance exam is needed for the career path they are choosing?  

 

What requirements are necessary to match your student’s aspirations?

Talk to various colleges or trade schools in your area to determine exactly what math courses and math testing skills are required for admission. If your student will be requesting accommodations it is also best to talk with the disability services department, as well as the admissions department, to determine what additional documentation your homeschool will need to provide at the time those accommodations are requested.  

 

Don’t push. Don’t move ahead too fast. A solid foundation in math is more important than gaining little bits of knowledge about higher-level math concepts.

 

What remediation does my student need for basic math skills?

The best strategy for remediation is to work with your child at his/her level of mastery. Don’t push. Don’t move ahead too fast. A solid foundation in math is more important than gaining little bits of knowledge about higher-level math concepts. When choosing a curriculum, look for programs that help break down the concepts into concrete steps and provide visuals or hands-on ways to help you and your child “see” solutions. It is also important to find a math program that fits your teaching style and your child’s learning style. 

Some great programs to look into:

 

What alternative math programs might work better for your student?

If your student doesn’t need or desire to take Algebra or Geometry, many different types of math can be supplemented during the high school years.

Some great alternatives are:

 

What higher-level curriculum options accommodate students with learning needs?

For some students, instruction in algebra, geometry, and high levels of math might be needed and/or wanted to meet post-high school goals. Do you feel comfortable teaching math at this level? If so, pick a curriculum you like and start teaching. If not, here are some alternatives and helps:

  • Online or video instruction, either private or self-paced
  • Co-op or online class that will work with your student’s needs
  • Multi-sensory based instruction (making it visual, hands-on)
  • Using a graphing calculator or graphing program
  • Private tutoring through an online service, friend, or local college student

 

 

 

 


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Kathy Kuhl

 

A woman told me her son had been accepted into a good college even though he had the handwriting of a six-year-old. Happily, this sharp young man and his mother knew how to get accommodations to get his thoughts on paper.

 

Can you imagine the effect on this child if his mother had said: 

“Sorry, dear. Until you stop reversing your Es, I’m not going to teach you to write.” or “Until you pay attention and print more neatly, I’m not teaching you any new words.”

 

Many gifted people have dysgraphia, dyslexia or other learning disabilities. We should work on the problems, as I discussed last week. But we also work around them. That means you accommodate the student’s areas of weakness.

Accommodate doesn’t mean coddle. It does mean you give help that gives them a fair chance to develop their abilities. It means you don’t let a disability hijack your homeschool.

Though we work hard to strengthen weaknesses, it is vital not to focus on them.

We build lives based on strengths, not weaknesses. We don’t look at  Charles Schwab, Richard Branson, or  MacArthur ‘Genius’ Award winner Mimi Koehl, and think of learning disabilities. They built their careers on their strengths.

We don’t build our lives on what we do poorly. Neither should our kids.

 

Accommodation #1: Learn to Type

The first accommodation you may think of for a child who struggles with writing is teaching your child to type.

How do you know if your child is old enough to touch-type? Pediatric occupational therapist Laurie Chuba told me this trick: ask your child to close her eyes and see if she can touch her left thumb and each of her other left fingers in turn. Then repeat with the right hand. If she can, she’s ready to learn to touch-type.

Not every keyboarding program is well-suited to children and teens with learning disabilities. For instance, the first one we tried used a small font size on the screen. It was hard for my son, who has dyslexia, to read.

There are many typing programs, but Keyboard Classroom is unusual. It’s a typing program designed at the Ben Bronz School in Connecticut, a school especially for students with learning disabilities. It keeps practice exercises to one minute, building fluency without as much stress as longer exercises. [Disclosure: I was given, but have not used, a sample of Keyboard Classroom and the finger guides. My review is based on trying a free demo. Typing programs vary and kids vary. I recommend trying demos and reading reviews to see what’s best for your child.]

It was researched with students with learning disabilities for twenty years. By keeping its plastic finger guides between the middle and ring finger of each hand, the learner’s hands don’t drift out of place.

I met Keyboard Classroom President Carrie Shaw at LEAH Homeschool Convention a few years back and got to try out the program. I was intrigued. You can see a demo and explanation of Keyboard Classroom here.

Carrie wrote, “I reduced the prices on all my licenses so it would be more affordable for homeschoolers.”  At their site, you can contact Carrie Shaw and learn more.

If your child is not ready to touch-type, let her record answers with a digital voice recorder or into your phone. You can also have her dictate to a sibling who can type.

 

Accommodation #2 – Word Prediction Software

Dictation software is notorious for goofy transcribing errors. WordQ does a superior job, providing a drop-down list of words to choose from. Even better, at the end of each sentence, WordQ reads the sentence aloud, which can help your student notice when words are incorrect or are omitted. Get a free trial of WordQ from Quillsoft here.

 

Accommodation #3 – Dictation Software

SpeakQ dictation software is an add-on for WordQ that turns it into a powerful dictation program. Designed for folks with learning disabilities, it is easier for your child to train to his or her voice than other programs, like Dragon. WordQ and SpeakQ both offer a free trial. Dragon Naturally Speaking also takes diction from you or your student. See  www.Nuance.com for details and a demonstration.[The advantage of SpeakQ over Dragon is that to train the software to recognize your child’s voice, Dragon provides paragraphs that may be difficult for your challenged learner to read. But SpeakQ lets you upload anything your child can read well, and use that text to train the software.]

Not everyone who struggles with writing struggles with handwriting. Other writing problems require different solutions. Next month we’ll look at some. This series continues here.

 

This article was originally written on Learn Differently at https://www.learndifferently.com/2015/10/20/accommodations-for-struggling-writers/

 

Some of the links in this article are affiliate links.

 

This article is part 3 in  a in a series of articles aimed at helping struggling writers. Part 1 is here, and part 2 is here .

 

 

 

 


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Kathy Kuhl

 

What if you didn’t know your child was dyslexic until they hit high school? This happened to a family I learned about yesterday.  They just discovered that their bilingual high schooler is dyslexic. For years, the experts kept saying, “She’s only struggling with reading because she’s bilingual.”

It’s an easy mistake to make, but it wasted valuable time. Now, while taking high school classes online, the girl’s frustration has soared. She is very discouraged. My heart aches for this student and her parents, who have been trying to get her help while living abroad.

This can happen with an online curriculum, in a school, or a homeschool. This frustration and discovery often happens when the pace of education picks up. The transitions to harder level work are times when we notice disabilities. Sometimes students can overcome their learning challenges for years on their own, often by being intelligent and working harder than everyone else. But at some stage–when they start middle school, high school, or college-level work–they can no longer overcome their disability without someone customizing their education.

 

#1 – Understand

  • Educate yourself and your teen about dyslexia. Visit the Dyslexic Advantage website (see the link below) and watch some of the videos. This will help you see how dyslexia is the flip side of intelligence in one of several distinct areas. This site offers practical help and an online forum. It will help you and your teen to take heart and begin to build on their strengths. 
  • Read the book, Dyslexic Advantage by Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide. These medical doctors (and former homeschoolers) work with the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, speak around the country, and run the Eide Neurolearning Clinic outside Seattle. The last third of the book is a very practical look at accommodations—ways to work around dyslexia in school. But the first two-thirds are just as important and interesting. They will transform how you see dyslexia. See below for a link to my review of the book.
  • Understand and be sympathetic to your teen’s struggles. It is hard for non-dyslexics to understand how painful reading can be. I know two adults with dyslexia (one with an M.Ed, the other an MD) who both say reading hurts.

 

#2 – Curriculum

  • Reading instruction for dyslexics comes in varying types and strengths. The main thing to keep always before you and your teen is that there is hope, so don’t give up. Here are a few options that can work long-distance (these are only a few suggestions—I’ve listed others at the end of this post):
    • Barton Reading trains parents to teach dyslexic students. Granted, no expert visits your home to see if the parents are teaching correctly. But Sue Barton is very knowledgeable and has helped many families. Her company, Bright Solutions, provides many videos on its website. (See below.)
    • Alphabetic Phonics by Aylette Royall Cox is another Orton-Gillingham-based program that can be offered at home by a parent. (Please note: this is not Alpha Phonics, nor is it Alphabet Phonics.) This publisher also offers webinars (see below).
    • All About Reading by Marie Rippel is another program to consider.
    • Lexercise is a more intensive and pricier option that comes with online tutoring. With Lexercise, a trained therapist tutors your dyslexic student online through a secure link.

 

#3 – Experts

  • Trained Academic Therapist. Working with someone trained in teaching dyslexics  your student may find that reading can get easier. My son made progress at age 20 with the help of an academic therapist, that is, a Certified Academic Language therapist. Other experts include Orton-Gillingham practitioners or Wilson tutors with Level II certification. This sort of tutoring is expensive. But I wish I’d understood this sooner. Then we could have used the money we were saving for college to work with an academic therapist all through high school.
  • Online Learning. Because of living abroad, the family I mentioned above has been using an online academy, but it has become very frustrating for this teen. One possibility is Time4Learning. I don’t know anyone who used it at the high school level, so it may not be a good fit for a struggling teen. Time4Learning does offer free trials, though, and may be worth investigating. 

 

#4 – Tools

  • Use audiobooks. I list several below. Additionally, did you know that any PDF can be read aloud by a computer using Adobe Acrobat reader? (The read-aloud option is under the “view” tab, oddly enough.)
  • Use assistive technology.  Find someone to walk you through all the tools you already have on your PC or Mac to help—all under the accessibility tabs, but not always easy to figure out. Your state agency for helping folks with disabilities probably offers free webinars or seminars on this. In Virginia, there are eight regional Training and Technology Assistance Centers (T/TAC). These centers lend equipment out. Check out what your state provides. Your local chapter of the ARC may also help you. Additionally, Joan Green knows a lot about assistive technology—her website, listed below, has webinars and resources.

 

#5 – Strategies

  • Strategize your teen’s time. I would devote the majority of each day to the  strengths of your struggling learner. In the case of a teen who is already frustrated, morale is a primary concern. Also, I would spend a chunk of each day working on reading, but with one of the therapies listed above–not with traditional methods.
  • Rethink your current learning approaches. For instance, if your situation requires you to use an online curriculum, can you use something more hands-on for at least some subjects? What is your student good at? What does he or she like to do? Try to find or adapt your curriculum to your student’s interests. For example, I have a friend whose teen shut down at age 15 during a family crisis. All this teen wanted to do was read and watch Japanese manga and anime (cartoons). My friend built a year’s homeschool around anime: Japanese history, an online class for the language, drawing, etc. Later, the teen caught up in her academics, and graduated from The Pratt Institute, a prestigious art school in New York City. Now this graduate is supporting herself as an artist. You may not have the time or resources to do that, but realize that an out-of-the-box curriculum won’t be a good fit for many students with learning challenges. At least a good part of your teen’s education may need to be more customized. I’m not only talking about remediating the area of weakness or accommodating it by working around it. Provide something that builds on the student’s strengths or interests.

 

#6 – Resources

 

This article was originally written on Learn Differently at http://www.learndifferently.com/2017/09/07/help-teen-dyslexic/ and as shared by the author to republish on this site.

 

Please note that some of the links in this article are affiliate links.

 

 

 

 

 


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Peggy Ployhar

Most high school students have no idea what career or even possible career fields would interest them, so don’t get frustrated if you have asked your teen for some suggestions and all you have received in response is, “I don’t know.”

Below I have shared my top 3 career assessment tools that can help steer your student in the right direction for career exploration as useful guidance for you in helping them in this exploration process.

 

#1 – My Next Move Interest Assessment

My Next Move is an online questionnaire that profiles a student’s interests and aligns them with possible future career choices. To access this free career interest assessment for your student, visit the My Next Move website at https://www.mynextmove.org/explore/ip

 

#2 – Holland Code Career Test

The Holland Code Career Test is a free online career assessment that “uses the scientific Holland Code model to show you which jobs will suit your interests, talents, and aptitude.” The test takes about 10 minutes. Basic test results from this assessment are free, or you can choose to receive a full report for just $19. To access the test, visit this link on the Truity website  https://www.truity.com/test/holland-code-career-test

 

#3 – Career One Stop Assessments

Career One Stop is a website sponsored by the U.S.Department of Labor that offers a few different tests parents could use to help with assessing their student’s interests, skills, and work values. Here are the assessments you can find on the Career One Stop site.  https://www.careeronestop.org/. Below are three resources Career One Stop provides.

Career Interest Assessment – This test is a 30 question assessment that takes about 5 minutes to complete and provides a broad overview of your student’s basic interests.  https://www.careeronestop.org/toolkit/careers/interest-assessment.aspx 

Skills Matcher Questionnaire – This test rates a student’s abilities across 40 workplace skills. https://www.careeronestop.org/toolkit/Skills/skills-matcher-questions.aspx

Work Values Survey – Use the cards provided in this section to identify what you student values in a working environment and then follow the links provided to find careers that match these values. https://www.careeronestop.org/ExploreCareers/Assessments/work-values.aspx

 

Interested in learning more about homeschooling your special education learner through high school? Check out our High School Checklist for more information on how to homeschool special education high school.

 

 

 

 

 


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