by the SPED Homeschool Team

 

Running out of creative ways to help your struggling student connect with learning material? Here are some great suggestions SPED Homeschool team members Dawn Spence, Amy Vickrey, and Peggy Ployhar have used in home educating their own struggling learners over the years.

 

Reading

Teach sight words.  Both my boys struggle with auditory processing, and as a result phonics is a struggle.  But, they do well with memorization, so we use sight words to teach reading, and then continue to work on phonics through spelling as well as through other subjects and activities.  This approach has allowed them to read sooner, and more quickly become independent learners.  My kids love books and reading, so this is a win-win! – Amy Vickrey

Include movement. Put words on notecards or purchase magnetic words and allow your student to create phrases, sentences, and responses by arranging and re-arranging the pre-written words. – Peggy Ployhar

 

Math

Find geometric objects.  When studying shapes and geometry concepts, have  your student(s) do a geometric treasure hunt. – Dawn Spence

Make a number line. Make a physical number line or use movement to help with moving numbers up and down a number line alongside addition and subtraction problems. – Dawn Spence.  

Fold paper to prove theorems. For helping an older student understand geometry concepts, use paper folding technique to help translate theoretical concepts into relational concepts. Here is a resource that shows you how. – Peggy Ployhar

Electronically graph equations. For students who benefit from learning math visually, use an Excel spreadsheet to graph algebraic equations. Here is a resource that walks you through how to use Excel this way. – Peggy Ployhar

 

Science

Make crafts meaningful. When studying about the layers of the earth, have them create the layers in playdoh or Rice Krispie treats. Or, when studying anything with the body – building the layers of skin, the cell, or the lungs makes it more real and easier to relate to when your student can manipulate and create replicas of what they are learning. – Dawn Spence

Embrace experiments. Experiments can be messy and time consuming, but they provide students with experiences they are less likely to forget than if they had just read about a science concept in a book or even watched a video with an experiment. – Peggy Ployhar

 

History

Act it out. When studying history, have your children act out a scene or historical event. To make it even more theatrical, have them put together a costume from materials they can find around the house. Then while you read about the event from a history book, textbook, or historical fiction book, have your children act out the parts for the person they are portraying. – Peggy Ployhar

Listen to audiobooks. For history, we have been listening to fiction and nonfiction historical books in the car.  Story of the World and various historical fiction have filled our time as we drive to appointments around town. This has done two things – increased my children’s love of history, and increased their listening skills.  It also has gotten my oldest to pick up and read these books later that previously he hadn’t shown any interest in.  Because he heard them first, he enjoyed going back and reading through them to get more details.  This method can also be helpful for students who enjoy listening to the books while following along. – Amy Vickrey  

Spark interests with videos and documentaries. There are many great shows on science, history, and innovation/manufacturing. These videos spark interest by exposing students to new topics. For instance, after watching a video about automobiles, I found my son pouring through books on automotive fundamentals to help him better understand what he learned from the videos.  There are plans to make a rocket-propelled bike or car…I’m not sure how, but I am excited that he is trying to figure out how. – Amy Vickrey

 

Writing

Cultivate storytelling. A way we helped our children develop writing skills was to take turns telling stories while on family hikes. Each family member would get a turn and the other family members contributed a person, place or thing that had to be included in the story. It was always fun to hear what my kids would come up with and since there was no handwriting involved and the storytelling made the hike go faster there was no complaining either. – Peggy Ployhar

Take advantage of technology. Since handwriting is still a challenge, we have used voice to text on Google Docs and Pages (iPad).  Both programs have worked well, and are free. Speaking in short phrases is best when using this technology. Moreover, the usage of this technology helped my son with his enunciation of certain words.  – Amy Vickrey

 

Still looking for more creative ideas for how to home educate your struggling learner? Check out these additional resources from our website.

 

 

 


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by Cynthia Heren from  Inside Our Normal, SPED Homeschool Blogging Partner

 

When we uncovered  our child’s disability, it was because we realized they weren’t meeting the suggested age-based milestones. In our case, we were still spoon feeding them yogurt and applesauce. We kept telling ourselves as parents “It’s ok, they are only 2…” but that excuse wore thin as they were getting ready to turn 3 in a couple of months, so after consulting with our pediatrician we began Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy for our child.  

 

For our  outside the box kids, learning doesn’t always happen at the same pace as their peers.  But with strong support, they can make the same progress in their own time. The child I mentioned above entered Pre-K with an IEP that focused on support in fine motor skills and sensory needs.  When we had them reevaluated in 3rd grade after moving across the country and a few years of homeschool, their new IEP reflected struggles focusing and social skills. 

 

Fast forward a few years and that same child is now a preteen. Their strengths and challenges have changed with time. Progress has been made in some areas, and new challenges have arisen. In our homeschool we can fully accommodate their needs and provide support for the best ways to help them grow.  Fine Motor skills are still a struggle but we meet the need by having primary-ruled paper always available for written assignments and the computer available to type on, instead of being overwhelmed by small lines on a worksheet. This accommodation is easy because we homeschool and don’t have to think about 30 students. We only have to consider what is best for one. Our child had grown and changed in their own time! Take heart. Working at your child’s pace is always the right choice.     

 

3 reminders for working at your child’s pace

#1 – Ignore grade levels and meet them where they are at

Many times, our special kids excel in specific areas of learning but struggle in other areas. It is important to look for  homeschool materials that can meet your child where they are at instead of where they “should be” based on their age. Trusting the placement tests of any program you are considering is valuable and will help you find the right fit for your child’s needs in that skill area.  I am homeschooling three children and only one of them is on the same grade level for all subjects. The other two students fall across at least two grade levels in their materials.  

 

#2 – Celebrate their progress

No matter what level your student is working at when they finish a project or workbook, take time to celebrate! It can be as simple as a dance party using songs from the radio or a special trip for ice cream. Celebrate all progress, however that looks at your child’s pace. They may never catch up with their age level peers but since they are in a classroom of one, they are never behind. 

 

#3 – Your homeschool is uniquely yours!

The most important thing to remember when homeschooling Outside the Box kids is the flexibility it gives you to meet their needs. Stop looking at other homeschoolers you know and don’t compare your homeschool to theirs. Your homeschool will look unique to your family and the needs of your student, and that’s how it should be. Likewise, their homeschool will be unique to their family and learning needs. When you focus on finding the perfect fit for your students, your students will thrive!

 

When we parents remember to keep our eyes on helping our child succeed and set unique learning goals based on their current skill sets, we will see the best growth. It may not look like a typical child their age but Progress is Progress and we will celebrate with you every step of the way!  

 

 

 

 


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By Yehudis Litvak, SPED Homeschool Partner, Homeschool Boost

 

Every child is unique. The beauty of homeschooling is the ability to customize your child’s education to fit their uniqueness. This is true for any child, and even more so for a child with learning differences.

And that’s step 1 in homeschooling your  child with dyslexia–a fundamental change from the way schools approach education towards a more holistic educational paradigm that builds on your child’s strengths while helping them build up their areas of weakness.

 

All my children are wonderful, amazing, and bright students who love to learn. Two of them have dyslexia. That doesn’t mean they are less capable. They are not learning any less than the other two. They just need different ways to learn, alternative ways to access information–ways that do not require a superhuman effort on their part. A child who struggles with reading but loves science, for example, can learn about science from audiobooks and documentaries. They can also learn online, using browser extensions that read any text aloud. And of course, our favorite way–read alouds.

So step 2 is that instead of lowering your expectations on how much your child can learn, find alternative ways to access information and learning materials, so your child can learn just as much as their non-dyslexic peers.

 

Once you’ve set up your child for success in their areas of interests and strengths, you need to help them in their areas of struggle. For this, determine precisely what these areas of struggle are. To do this, start by understanding there are different types of dyslexia. Two children with the same diagnosis on paper may struggle with very different issues. Step 3 would be to get to know your child, to notice specific struggles. Turn to professionals for help. Ask local homeschoolers for referrals to trusted professionals who can help get you connected. While you’re at it, check your child’s vision and hearing, which could also cause learning struggles.

 

When you have a clearer idea regarding what’s causing your child’s learning difficulties, you can look for  the best way to help them. That’s step 4, and it might take time and trial and error. There are many wonderful programs out there. It’s not that some are better and others are worse. It’s that some are a better fit for your child than others. Some families choose to outsource, hiring a tutor to work with their child. Others purchase materials and work with their child themselves. There is no right or wrong. Do whatever works for your child and your family.

 

And then step 5 would involve finding the proper balance between supporting your child’s strengths and interests and helping them make progress in their areas of struggle. I always compare homeschooling a child with learning differences to riding a seesaw. After spending some time on, say, reading instruction for a struggling reader, you need to restore balance by spending as much, or even more, time on something your child truly enjoys.

The overall atmosphere in the home should be that of unconditional acceptance. Your child should know that the rest of the family accepts him or her just the way they are. Yes, you’d love him even if he never learns to read. Yes, you’d love her even if she keeps misspelling her own name. This might be obvious to you, but not necessarily obvious to your child! Verbalize it! Tell them that their learning challenges do not diminish their value as a human being. Such conversations mean more to our children than we might imagine.

 

And step 6? Have fun! Our children grow so fast! We want to give them a wonderful, memorable childhood. Don’t let your child’s learning struggles get in the way! Spend time each day enjoying each other’s company and doing something both you and your child enjoy. Get outside, explore nature around you, go on fun trips. Remember that everything our children do is educational. There is so much to learn everywhere you turn, as long as you nurture your child’s curiosity and sense of adventure. Enjoy the journey!

 

For more homeschooling information and resources, including a free dyslexia-friendly literature and science unit , please visit HomeschoolBoost.com.

 

 

 


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by Faith Berens, M.ED. Dyslexia and Reading Specialist, HSLDA Special Needs Consultant and SPED Homeschool Board Member

 

As a very young student, I struggled with mastering and recalling basic addition and subtraction facts.  At 9 years old, I still had failed to grasp the foundation of place value.  I had a very difficult time conceptualizing and visualizing mathematics-numbers were simply symbols on a page—they did not carry any meaning.  It literally “would not compute” because the symbols did not turn into pictures or translate into a meaningful concept.    

I continually thought, “Am I stupid?  Is there something wrong with me?  Why didn’t God make me smart like my older sister who flew through her school work with ease making A’s?”  In my mind, I was a failure; I was not good at math, and never would be. 

But along came hope…I vividly remember the day when my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Gingery, began the process of unlocking the mystery of math for me.  She gently and quietly led me to the carpet and pulled out the popsicle sticks, while the rest of my peers quietly worked on their math worksheet at their desks. “They all get subtraction with regrouping….so why don’t I?  They can remember their math multiplication facts….so why can’t I?  Maybe I am just not as smart as them…”

I am so grateful my teacher did not berate or belittle me. Instead, she was calm, patient, and compassionate.  She obviously understood that the traditional way of  textbook learning and rote memory was not working for me, so she changed her approach, demonstrated concretely, with modeling and repetition so that I could understand the concepts, the “why” behind the process, as well as engaged multi-sensory teaching with me.  These methods of teaching were invaluable in unlocking math for me.  Despite solid teaching in the elementary grades and even remediation classes in middle school, my math challenges continued. 

In fact all through high school, I continued to wrestle with understanding quantities and fractions, retaining formulas and conversions, and steps in processes for solving equations.  These difficulties led to fear, frustration, anxiety, and needless to say, evenings consisting of hours of math homework filled with tears.  My mother, who was a single parent, hired a wonderfully gifted math tutor who patiently worked with me.  With his support, I was able to get through Algebra 1 and 2 and Geometry. Despite the fact that my high school guidance counselor said I was “not college material”, I was still determined to go to university!  One summer, I even took a math course to help sharpen my math skills. However, the road was hard and I still did not know WHY learning math was so difficult for me.  

Finally, in my sophomore year of college, when I went to the special student services department to seek assistance with my university math classes and to ask for testing accommodations, the answer to why learning math was so challenging came! One of the educators in the special student services department gave me a diagnosis, “a label” if you will.  I was told, “You have dyscalculia.”  And as a young adult, with that “label” came a sigh of relief and such freedom!  “You mean there is actually a name for this problem??  I’m not dumb?  I can learn?  I don’t have something wrong with me?”  This “label” replaced all the other labels and lies I had been putting on myself since childhood. Oh the joy and stress relief to finally know—to be able to put a name on this thing that had plagued me for so long!  To know what “it” was and that there was help available was a wonderful gift to me and I embraced it.  Additionally, I continued to work with the staff and tutors at my university to learn strategies and techniques to help work around my learning difficulties. 

 

Defining Dyscalculia:

Dyscalculia is a specific learning disability and is sometimes referred to as the math version of dyslexia.  It is often diagnosed or termed math learning disability or a mathematic disorder.  Often students with a learning disability or difference, also have underlying slow processing speed and weak working memory.  

According to  www.dyscalculia.org, dyscalculia is “defined as a failure to achieve in mathematics commensurate with chronological age, normal intelligence, and adequate instruction. It is marked by difficulties with:  visualization;  visual-spatial perception, processing and discrimination;  counting;  pattern recognition;  sequential memory;  working-memory for numbers;  retrieval of learned facts and procedures;  directional confusion; quantitative processing speed;  kinesthetic sequences;  and perception of time.” 

As an adult, I still deal with having poor visual spatial skills.  So, please don’t ask me to help rearrange your living room furniture because I can’t picture what that couch will look like turned a different angle nor am I good at estimating or “seeing” in my mind’s eye if said couch will fit on the opposite wall!  In fact, it wasn’t until well into my 40’s that I learned, through a cognitive development therapy program, to hold a sequence of numbers or an amount in my mind’s eye and then do something with it (visualizing and working memory skills) thus mental math has always been really challenging! Math is still hard for me….but as my good friend and colleague, Dr. Carol Brown says, “Hard is good!” and I am getting better with these cognitive skills and continue to grow and be stretched with games, puzzles, and the hope that the brain can change and learn new pathways!  

So, what’s a homeschooling parent-teacher to do when their student struggles with these skills and mathematical thinking?  

Practical Tips and Strategies:

  • First and foremost, if and when the student is diagnosed with dyscalculia, the parents, as the teacher and administrator of their home school, can allow for student accommodations, such as extra time, use of a calculator, and accessing math reference sheets.  The HSLDA Special Needs Consultants encourage families to document these accommodations on a parent written home education accommodation plan and maintain this document, along with the diagnostic test report, in your student’s homeschool file.  
  • Provide lots of time for hands-on and sensory experiences that build visual memory, visual-spatial, number sense, patterning, etc. skills that are foundational for mathematic thinking
  • Use a multi-sensory (visual, tactile, kinesthetic, and auditory) math program/curricula
  • Teaching should be systematic, sequential, and explicit
  • Allow for repetition and practice
  • Model mathematical thinking, problem solving, and relate math skills to real life situations
  • Tap into your child’s strengths (such as auditory memory or musical/rhythmic) areas to help them practice math, learn math facts, and memorize math vocabulary and steps in the process 
  • Play games, such as board games that utilize mathematical skills
  • Consider utilizing a math tutor or learning disability specialist, if you need support in teaching your child
  • Color code steps in the process, place value columns, and use mnemonic devices, or songs/rhymes, chants and jingles to teach math vocabulary and steps in problem solving, conversions, and formulas
  • Your student does not have to simply settle for accommodations and compensatory strategies alone!  Consider the fact that a cognitive therapy development program, such as Equipping Minds or  Brain Sprints can address and strengthen the underlying weak cognitive skills (working memory, visual memory, visual-perceptual, sequencing, language processing, visual discrimination, directionality, and processing speed) which are causing the math dysfunction 

 

Recommended Math Curricula and Teaching Resources:

 

Read another homeschooling mother’s story about her life with a learning disability

Don’t forget to check out our trusted math curriculum partners.

 

 

 

 

 


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by Dr. Rebecka Spencer, with Cherish Children Ministries

 

Can you please just tell me which curriculum to use for my dyslexic learner?” 

I’ve tried multiple curricula and nothing seems to be working.” 

 

These are common questions we get here at Cherish Children Ministries from both homeschool moms and classroom teachers. The Orton-Gillingham approach (or simply OG) is the most famous and widely used curriculum for dyslexic learners, but it does not necessarily have to be a new purchase for your homeschool journey. Structured learning, sequential skill introduction, cumulative lessons built upon each other, explicit instruction, multisensory opportunities, and systematic phonics are key facets for the Orton-Gillingham approach to reading for our dyslexic kids. But you do not necessarily need to invest in an all-new curriculum. What you do need to do is learn the components of effective strategies and use what you have. 

 

The fact of the matter is this: most curricula have both phonics and sight word components included in them already, so there is no need to reinvent the wheel. What you might want to do, if your curriculum is not OG-based, is make sure that you are doing some multisensory sessions with your child. These are action-oriented, with auditory, visual, and tactile-kinesthetic elements reinforcing each other for optimal learning. Teaching spelling simultaneously with reading is part of the OG approach. 

 

The basis of the OG approach revolves around the idea that kids learn and master language through three neurological pathways: visual processing, auditory processing, and tactile processing. The first two – visual and auditory processing – are used to read, while tactile processing is for handwriting and muscle movements. There are hundreds of curricula that encompass and embrace this approach. Keep in mind all curricula may not advertise that this is the method used. If these three pathways are incorporated in structured and meaningful ways, and systematic phonics and multisensory opportunities are also included, then the curriculum is based on the OG method. The OG approach is so well-known that some portions of the approach are found in many programs at all price ranges. 

 

The first thing is to get the left portion of the brain firing so it can recognize and learn some patterns and reading-type skills. I would like for you to imagine your brain and how it receives information. The first thing the brain does is take the image that it sees from both eyes, then upside down, then the brain flips it and turns it where you can see it. Imagine if there is a delay in the right or left brain here. 

 

Children will often struggle with pencil grip and tracing letters with early childhood games. When this occurs, it is quite possible the palmar primitive reflex is not integrated. It is simple to integrate. Just get a stress ball and have the child squeeze the ball with the forefinger and thumb, thumb and middle, then thumb and ring finger, and thumb and pinky. Do it again but start with the thumb and pinky. Doing this a few times each day will dramatically help learners who have dysgraphia. Also, the Writing 8 ABC’s Exercise will help with dysgraphia as well as dyslexia. We have put together a 4-part lesson plan that is sure to get your learner thriving. Check it out HERE.

 

Visual function is very important when we talk about dyslexic learners. Dyslexic kids struggle with the recognition of visual elements, shapes, and patterns. We do exercises with our children to help them with this weakness. When we assess children in this area, we ask our students to trace or rewrite a shape, such as a box, circle, star, or some type of polygon, only to find kids will draw something that looks a lot different from the shape set before them. Sometimes they will not even close the shape. For something that may seem so simple, one can see how this impacts their reading skills.

 

Fixation is another component that is important for parents and teachers to understand in our dyslexics. Fixation is simply the ability to maintain gaze on a single location. What happens in dyslexic kids is the fixation will be slightly off from the point the child is supposed to be looking at and they cannot fixate. 

 

Smooth pursuit, or slow tracking, is another skill that is complex for our dyslexic learners. When we check our children to understand the eye’s ability to track, we understand why it is so difficult for them to read smoothly. This is a higher function of the brain. Only highly intelligent mammals have the intelligence to do this. Some kids’ eyes skip, so they miss letters and words even while they are reading. 

 

Notice how the blue arrows indicate how the dyslexic reader may read this sentence compared to a non-dyslexic reader. One can see how this may make it very difficult for these children to read smoothly as their little eyes skip or jump letters. 

 

The brain takes in the images that the eye lands on, and the brain cannot do this properly if the eyes are skipping or jumping. Some kids struggle with this, so we want to strengthen this weakness with some easy exercises. You can try this at home right now with your little learner with this easy exercise.

 

Put a sticker on the end of a pencil or ruler, and have the child move eyes only right to left and left to right. They should be able to do this, but if they cannot, try this exercise. Put a fun sticker on the end of a pencil or pen and ask the child to watch it as you move across their visual field. Eyes turn right to left and then from left to right and do as long as it takes about 10 seconds in each direction. Your child should be able to hold their head still and move the eyes smoothly to follow. What you want to look for is if the child’s eyes can track back and forth while watching a slow-moving target. The skips may be so slight that it looks more like a tiny shake of the pupil as it follows the target.

 

It used to be thought that what you were born with was all you had. Sometimes, brain development is compared to putting as many things into the brain as possible, beginning at birth. Babies are born with about 100 billion brain cells. As the baby grows, brain cells, called neurons, grow larger and stronger, forming tentacle-like branches to connect and communicate with the other neurons and set the stage for how we will survive and thrive in life. Most people think that what we are born with is what we have for the rest of our lives. This is not the case: the brain is the only organ not fully formed at birth. Once the brain’s basic structure is present, the brain starts working as a vital, functioning organ long before it is completely formed. 

 

Brain growth begins about 40 days after conception when the cortex, which is the gray matter that looks like deep wrinkles or grooves, starts to form. The neocortex, as it is called in fetal development, is the seed for the genesis of neurons, which sprout and accumulate rapidly, sometimes at the rate of a quarter-million per minute. For the next 125 days, new neurons will continually explode into existence like fireworks from deep within the neocortex. But this will not occur randomly. Their migration to specific locations will be carefully orchestrated, to a large degree, by genetic code. Some of these neurons will be directed to building the brain itself, forming the six layers that make up the cerebral cortex. By the end of two months, the human cortex in a fetus will be intact and identifiable. Cell migration, however, will continue to flourish, and won’t stop until about the end of the fifth month.

 

Synaptic connections are the key that makes learning–what most people think of as brain development–possible. They are the key to physical growth, as well. At one time, scientists believed that mental and physical growth were mutually exclusive. But that is not the case at all. One cannot exist without the other. Every biologically important event – from recognizing a mother’s smile or a father’s voice to sitting, crawling, walking, and talking – is the result of new connections, producing electrical excitation between neurons within the synaptic loop. The Kodak-moment milestones that parents anxiously await are markers of synaptic development and signs of normal neuronal growth.

 

A group of Belgian researchers conducted a study that proved dyslexia involved a disconnect in the wiring in the brain rather than the past scientific belief that the condition was a result of distorted sound interpretation. It was found that phonetic representations were intact in

those with dyslexia. The findings indicated those with dyslexia had disconnectivity between the areas of the brain that are responsible for speech production. Several other studies back up these findings, and I will include them in the resources section of this lesson.

 

Some research has concluded that intensive reading instruction improved reading skills in younger children with dyslexia and caused the brain to physically rewire itself, creating new white matter within the brain itself. Brain imaging of children between the ages of eight and ten displayed the quality of white matter, which is the tissue that transports signals in-between areas of the brain processing centers, improved significantly after 100 hours of remediation.

 

Kids with dyslexia have what is called auditory processing deficits, especially in phonics. The letter sounds b and p are difficult to differentiate. When exercises for building speech and sound awareness are done, dyslexic children have improved reading and writing skills. This is WHY we focus on doing brain exercises in our “Struggle Learner to Thriving Achiever” program. Did you know that 682 children diagnosed with dyslexia and auditory processing disorder were involved in a study where they exercised the weak parts of their brain? The results were significant improvements in reading skills. Also, spelling errors decreased by 40 percent! When the researchers worked with dyslexic children doing eye exercises, the children made half as many mistakes after only three to six weeks of doing brain exercises. When we balance the brain, this is what we can expect to find! You can rewire your brain, too, if you are a parent who struggles with dyslexia. 

 

Always do what is best for YOUR child or students. You are with your children more than anyone, so listen to your instincts and go to a specialist if you determine further modifications or testing is needed. It is always a good idea to invite trained professionals onto the team for your child. You are your child’s best advocate.

SPEDHomeschool has dozens of articles to help you confidently homeschool your child with dyslexia. Our list of articles is here. Also, check out our trusted reading curriculum partners

 

 

 


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By Charlene Notgrass, from Notgrass History, SPED Homeschool Curriculum Partner

 

God usually gives us one child at a time, with each new baby coming into a family made up of varying ages. Sometimes God gives parents twins, and I even know a couple who had quadruplets. Still, in most families, each person is a different age. Even when children share the same birthday, they don’t share the same skill levels in every area at every stage.

 

One joy of homeschooling is that children in a family can learn together sometimes and receive individual instruction at other times. I cherish the memories of our family learning together. Sometimes that happened when we were reading aloud or while taking a daylong field trip or a weeklong vacation. Sometimes we learned together while putting on a play, making a craft, taking an art class, teaching a Bible class, or eating a meal from a certain region of America or the world. 

 

Homeschooling was once a burden for me, but it became a joy when I learned to relax and homeschool from the perspective of who we were, as a family. No longer were lessons a chore. Instead, these lessons became a way for us to share life together. We even decided as a family to create materials to combine subjects, teach multiple levels, and instruct the hearts, souls, and minds of our children.

 

The result of our planning eventually became a curriculum that is now loved by many homeschooling families, Notgrass History. The curriculum we ended up creating provides narrative lessons and activities. These activities include primary sources and literature, arts and crafts projects, review material, tests, family activities, and writing prompts. We never wanted these activities to be burdensome but instead to be a tool parents could use for instruction based on what they knew about how their family best learned together. 

 

For example, our book From Adam to Us is our world history course for children in grades 5-8. We have heard that some parents include children in these lessons who are younger than 5, while others have used it with their high school students. Some families complete the course in a year, while others spread the lessons out over a longer period. The reason I state these things is that when teaching multiple levels of students and those with learning differences, it is beneficial to have a curriculum that can flex with your family’s and student’s needs.

 

We chose stories that encouraged our family’s Christian faith, plus we included additional learning items like historical documents, maps, timelines, vocabulary, creative writing ideas, and hands-on activities that we could use together to interact around, and dig deeper into, specific content as a family.

 

You too can make homeschool less complicated and educationally richer by learning together as a family. This creates a less stressful, more engaging, and more memorable year. In fact, many parents find their children thrive when most of their school year centers around one central theme.

 

God created families. He entrusts precious children whom He loves deeply into the care of their parents and trusts those parents to do a good job. You can trust His judgment in making you your children’s parent and that learning together will enhance your homeschooling experience and family bonds..

 

Are you interested in finding out more about the From Adam to Us Notgrass Curriculum? Use this link to see how this curriculum works in a typical homeschool setting.

 

You can also see the SPED Homeschool Review Crew video review of From Adam to Us here .

 

Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, SPED Homeschool earns a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that we have vetted this organization, and recommend them because they are a helpful and useful resources for special education homeschooling families, and not because of the small commissions we would make if you decide to buy something through an affiliate link. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve the educational goals you have for your homeschooled student.

 

 

 

 


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 By Jan Bedell, Ph.D., Master NeuroDevelopmentalist, SPED Homeschool Board Member, Curriculum PartnerConsultant Partner, and Therapy Partner 

 

Dyslexia is a malady that has perplexed parents, educators, and those diagnosed with it for years. Children think they are “not very smart” because they can’t read as well as their peers. Parents wonder if their child is even trying because they know they are smart. Educators have a classroom full of students and are unsure of how to help the child that is obviously bright but struggling to keep up with academic demands.

 

If you are looking for help for dyslexia in an internet search, you often find descriptions like these:

 

  1. One website gave this statistic:
  • Approximately 15% of people have dyslexia. 
  • This equates to over 30 million adults in the United States, about 6 million in the United Kingdom, and 3 million in Canada. Most don’t know they are dyslexic! 

 

  1. Mayo Clinic states: “Dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding)…”

 

  1. Yale University suggests: “In fact, dyslexia is an unexpected difficulty in reading in an individual who has the intelligence to be a much better reader…”

 

  1. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says, “Although the disorder varies from person to person, common characteristics among people with dyslexia are difficulty with phonological processing (the manipulation of sounds), spelling, and/or rapid visual-verbal responding.”

 

A Bit of Dyslexia History

The individual that first identified dyslexia, Samuel Orton, had a much broader list of symptoms for people with this condition. He said they have some or a combination of these characteristics: 

  • balance issues
  • eye tracking and convergence challenges
  • lack of typical coordination
  • cross dominance (using the opposite eye or ear from the dominant handedness)
  • poor phonemic awareness
  • struggles to spell correctly

 

The numbers of those struggling with this condition are staggering. The current educational system in the United States only offers programs to compensate for symptoms and a long reading remediation process focused on phonics for the challenges of children with dyslexia. For adults with dyslexia, there are few options besides living with it and doing the best you can. That sounds quite bleak to me. 

 

From a NeuroDevelopmental (ND) perspective, the question about all these dyslexic symptoms is 2-fold:

 

  • WHAT is allowing all of the atypical struggles to exist?
  • Why has the original group of symptoms found by Samuel Orton been reduced to a phonetic approach? 

 

In other words, why are all but one of the factors first discovered by Mr. Orton considered in the treatment of dyslexia? Neurodevelopmentalists know that human function is controlled by the brain. How that brain is organized and the developmental steps that have taken place for that individual make all the difference in the functional outcomes. Our experience with individuals labeled with or suspected of dyslexia has been very different than the traditional view of doing a 2-year intensive phonics program and then living with any residual struggle and merely coping and compensating for a lifetime. 

 

The ND approach looks at the whole child to see what might be causing the glitches in function. 

  • Are the eyes not working in tandem so that letters on a page are overlapping and barely distinguishable? 
  • Is the central detail vision not working optimally so small words, parts of words, or punctuation seem to disappear. 
  • Is the auditory short-term memory poorly developed to cause problems with using phonics? The child just can’t seem to hold all the pieces together to get the word out promptly. 
  • Is it that the lower levels of the brain are not organized to enable a fluid flow of information from one hemisphere of the brain to the other?  
  • Is information being stored in the wrong part of the brain causing the individual to have an inconsistent recall?  
  • Or is it a combination of several of the above? 

 

This is very frustrating for everyone! The mom thinks the child has the concept or information just to find the child is unable to retrieve it the next day. The child doesn’t understand why the information isn’t coming out as mom expects. 

 

If you would like to see some of the symptoms we have frequently encountered when working with individuals with dyslexia and the possible root causes from a NeuroDevelopmental point of view, click here 

 

Our experience shows that if the root cause is addressed through equipping the parents with knowledge of the right type of brain stimulation, the children come up an average of a year or more  in math and reading in just four months. This is a far cry from most experiences of getting further and further behind each year. Parents are the key to this change! You don’t have to load your family in the car and drive across town for some expensive therapy. The NeuroDevelopmental Approach can be added to your home school with incredibly positive results. 

For more information and the opportunity for a free consultation, visit  www.BrainSprints.com

 

 

 

 

 


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by the SPED Homeschool Team

 

Have you ever considered creating your own unit study to teach all your children at the same time? Below is a list of subjects you can teach multiple ages/learning levels with resources you can easily find at your local library and/or on the internet.

 

Once you pick your topic, use this article from our website on How to Create a Hands-On Unit Study to pull everything together for your unit.

 

Science

Magic school bus science

Nature 

Circuits

Weather 

Animals 

Geology

Biology- marine or regular

Systems of the body

Bugs

Gardening

Chemistry of baking

Fermentation

Habitats 

Ecosystems

 

History/Social Studies 

Geography 

Early America 

Famous people in history 

Native Americans 

States and local governments

Landmarks 

Seven wonders of the world

Famous scientists

Foreign studies (history, culture, food, traditions, holidays)

U.S. presidents

National parks

Film study

Christmas around the world

 

Art 

Step-by-step drawing 

Color wheels

Famous artists 

Mixed media art 

Sculptures of clay 

Water color

Digital art

Chalk art

Tie dying

Woodworking

Interior design

Cake decorating

Jewelry making

Metal design

Needlework

Bible journaling 

 

Music

Composer study

Genre study

Cultural music study

Physics of instruments

Scales

Vocalization/singing

Making instruments

 

Math

Fractions 

Cooking with measurements 

Measuring water

Dice games

Yard games, darts, archery, nerf targets (cumulative points)

Skip counting hopscotch

Minecraft 

Helping with family budget/grocery shopping

 

Language arts 

Readalouds

Book studies for particular topics

Mad Libs 

Analogies 

Vocabulary in cartoons, comic books, public signs, etc.

Foreign language 

Sign language

 

Health

First aid

Nutrition

Fitness

CPR 

 

Home Economics

Garment care

Auto repair

Home maintenance

Landscaping

Kitchen basics

Prepping meals 

 

Do you have any additional subjects to add to this list? Contact us with your suggestions and we will add them to the list.

 

 

 


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by Bev Parrish, SPED Homeschool partner Learn Your Way

 

Understanding and celebrating diversity are more popular than ever in our culture. We often do not talk about the need for diversifying education both in public school and homeschool. A one-size-fits-all approach can even find its way into our homeschool. Not every student is well-suited to the usual course of study. 

 

That opens the door to the benefits of volunteering, internships, and apprenticeships. They can all accomplish similar goals. So can a job! They just achieve them in slightly different ways.

 

Volunteering can be as simple as actively looking for opportunities to help others – at church, in your neighborhood, or among family and friends – all without pay. It can be more formal with a set time and place where someone relies on your student to get something done.  

 

Internships typically take place in a field of interest where someone may already have a bit of knowledge. This usually relates to college students during the summer, and often there are already arrangements in place between businesses and the university to hire these students upon graduation. It allows both parties to get to know one another before taking the plunge of a formal offer of employment.  

 

Apprenticeships are typically a time of training and working alongside a skilled craftsperson to gain hands-on knowledge and real-world experience with a particular field. We often think of this for plumbers or electricians, but medical students act in an apprenticeship capacity under a qualified physician while completing their formal training. It is simply a case of a mature professional passing along their expertise with intention in an orderly and structured manner. Internships and apprenticeships also usually involve a paycheck!

 

All three options can be great choices instead of or alongside typical educational pursuits. The bottom line is that they provide real-life experiences in a somewhat protected environment while the student fully masters their tasks. This equips our children to succeed with confidence and competence. The benefits of these types of arrangements are many.

  • All the above options bring real-world experiences that use what you have been teaching your kids! It is incredible how some students respond to seeing the practical value of what you have taught them. Their personal motivation to master the subject matter can speed up the learning process in ways a lecture, a textbook, or endless practice with a worksheet could never accomplish. I remember one son who couldn’t master percentages, that was until he faced several angry customers at his job where he had not properly computed their discount for a sale item. When faced with the thought of the consequences of his ignorance, that child learned percentages practically overnight!
  • Exposure to other adults who may bring valuable skills, attitudes, and knowledge that you are otherwise unable to provide is another benefit. It could be the same skills you have been teaching, but sometimes our students need a fresh face and a fresh voice (not to mention their own reputation at stake). 
  • Future job opportunities can be another benefit. News travels quickly about young men and women with an excellent work ethic and good character, much faster than knowledge of their GPA!
  • These experiences provide substantive, unique content for their transcript. Do investigate the laws in your state. Many allow homeschool parents to determine the required course of study for high school. This gives you great freedom to tailor an individualized education for your child and give your student academic credit for time spent volunteering or working in some capacity. Think about the things they are actually learning and how to turn that into academic credits. For example, our son, who volunteered at the 1940 Air Terminal Museum in Houston for over 300 hours during his high school years, received multiple credits on his transcript. We gave him credit for public speaking (conducting tours), aviation history, aviation science (engine repair, electronics, how planes fly), and PE (there were lots of planes to move from one hangar to another). We indicated that he had logged all those volunteer hours. If your state law is not so generous, you can find ways to legitimately fit the things they learned into traditional course names. Document what they learn, even if it didn’t come from a textbook or lecture.
  • These options provide an excellent opportunity for a small step to independence within the safety net of your family. Navigating the adult world of work with ready guidance available from parents is invaluable. Other adults will be either affirming or correcting your teen’s work habits, attitudes, personality quirks, and appearance. If their feelings get hurt, you can evaluate, make any needed corrections, bandage them up and send them out again, better equipped for adulthood!

 

In our homeschool, we required volunteer work from all our kids. Most of them also held jobs during the summers. When our oldest applied to attend the United States Merchant Marine Academy, a federal academy requiring a rigorous application process, including a Congressional nomination, our local Congressman nominated Ben precisely because of his volunteer hours and work history. 

 

Don’t be afraid to get outside the box. Give yourself permission to honestly assess your student, their needs, and the most effective, efficient way to meet them. Consider something different from what everyone else’s student is doing. I will warn you in advance that this road can be lonely for parents. It can also be the very best choice for your child.

 

 

 

 

 


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by Dawn Spence, SPED Homeschool Teaching Manager

 

Disclaimer: Many of the links shared in this article are to Amazon products, and while they are not affiliate links, we would love your support of the nonprofit work we do by simply logging into Amazon Smile (smile.amazon.com) before your purchase and choosing SPED Homeschool as your nonprofit choice. Thank you in advance for your support!

 

Organizing is one thing that I love to do when planning my homeschool year. This preparation time helps me structure my space, lessons, and items for my kids with learning differences who thrive in an organized learning environment.

 

In the past 9 years of homeschooling, my favorite homeschooling organizational tools have changed because of the needs of my learners and as well as what they need within their learning environment. Below is a list of my favorite supplies and organizers. I have also included items for those of you who homeschool on the go or need to be mobile with your homeschooling supplies.

 

Let the organizing begin and happy shopping!

 

Organizing supplies 

Organizer Caddy  by Learning Resources 

Label Maker by Brother P-touch 

Metal Rolling Cart by Alvorog 

Desk Organizer by DARFOO

24 Pocket Poly Project Organizer by Smead

6 Drawer Rolling Storage Chart by Linon 

Plastic 5 Drawer Medium Storage Tower by Homz 

15-Drawer Multipurpose Mobile Rolling Utility Storage Organizer Cart by Seville 

 

Planners and Calendars 

Homeschooling Organizing for Multiple Kids (up to 6 Students) by GR8 Creations

Chaos Coordinator   by Emmaline Bloom  

Multi-Student Christian Homeschool Planner by Christian Homeschoolers 

Homeschool Planner & Record Book: For Multiple Kids by Mellanie Kay Journals 

Daily Schedule Pocket Chart by SpriteGru 

Learning Resources Calendar & Weather Pocket Chart by Learning Resource 

Magnetic Calendar for Kids by FBve

Dry Erase Magnetic White Board Calendar Kit by Feela Store 

The Work-Smart Academic Planner  by Peg Dawson & Richard Guare

 

 

For the homeschooler on the go 

Desktop Caddy by Godery Store 

Expanding File Folder by TriMagic Store 

Storage Tote Bag by Cupohus Store

2 Pack LCD Writing Tablet for Kids by KIDWILL

Dry Erase Pockets by Pocket Pro 

Magnetic Learning Calendar by Learning resource 

Desktop Pocket Chart by SpriteGru 

 

Visual Aids 

Wall Maps by PalaceLearning

Telling Time Teaching Clock by OWLConic store 

Magnetic Chalkboard Contact Paper by Chalknetic

Dry erase Board  by Quartet Store

Visual Timer by Time Timer 

Chore Chart  by Tracy Supply 

 

Hopefully, this list will enhance your homeschool planning and we at SPED Homeschool pray you have an amazing year of learning at home with your children.

 

 

 

 

 


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