By Janet Giel-Romo, SPED Homeschool Partner Austin & Lily Curriculum and Consulting 

 

One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is that parents have the freedom to guide the education of their child. Parents can individualize instruction and teach the topics they want to. Last week, we shared about creating a student education plan (SEP), a homeschool version of an Individual Education Program (IEP). One of the important considerations in developing a student education plan is what to teach. For instruction to be effective, we need to start with what the student already knows and add to it just a little bit at a time. Students need to feel successful. But how do you know where to begin?

 

What is PLAAFP and PLOP?

Parents can use the same strategies schools use to determine a student’s current knowledge and future goals. The IEP process involves testing, observations, and writing a narrative about the student called the Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP or PLOP). This information is the starting point for writing goals. It includes a student’s strengths, skills, challenges, and the most effective instructional strategies. It takes time to gather accurate data to write a good PLAAFP, but this is the starting point that can help parents map out a plan.

 

How to Find Present Levels

I homeschool my 19-year-old daughter, Lily, who has Down syndrome. I had a good feel for her reading and writing skills because I have worked with her on these skills. 

Math was a different story. I did not do much with her on math, so I wasn’t sure what she knew and what she did not know. I decided to assess her skills related to money. I made up a game on the fly. Lily likes Taco Bell, and we had several Taco Bell sauce packets on the counter, so I used them to play “Taco Bell Sauce Store” with her. I gave her a pile of coins and told her that each sauce was a nickel. First, we sorted the sauce packets into sauce types. Then, I role-played the store clerk and asked her what she would like to buy. As we played, I figured out what areas need work. For example, when I asked her for a nickel to buy a sauce packet, she handed me a quarter. That told me we need to spend some time learning the names of coins and looking at how to tell them apart. I also realized she didn’t know how much they were worth. At school, she had been doing money problems on worksheets but hadn’t made the connection to real money. I knew that teaching her the names of the coins wouldn’t take long, but that would be a good goal as well as memorizing how much each coin is worth. 

I also looked at Lily’s adding skills. I noticed when Lily had a problem like 4+5 she counted the four items and then the five items, and then she recounted all of them to get the answer. I will outline how I went about figuring out how to teach to skip count.

 

It takes time to gather accurate data to write a good PLAAFP, but this is the starting point that can help parents map out a plan.”

 

Knowledge + 1 =

I asked myself questions that I needed to answer to figure out what the problem was. I bought workbooks for K-3 math to see how lessons were sequenced. This helped me understand how strategies unfold for general education math curriculum. I discovered the skill Lily needed to use to not recount is called skip counting. 

Can Lily skip count? I gave three numbers in a row and then asked Lily what came next. EX- “22,23,24…..what comes next?” She said, “25, 26, 27”. Yes, she can skip count.

Did Lily know how to skip count when adding? No. She didn’t realize that you can look at the first number and count from there to add on the second number. For example, 3+2 would be counted as 3…4,5. The answer is 5. The teaching strategy that worked best for Lily was for me to model this using my fingers several times.

 

Brainstorming Goals and Strategies Based on Present Levels

Based on her present levels, I have a variety of goals and strategies I can choose. 

  • Pick the highest of the two numbers as the starting point to add the smaller number.
  • Skip count by 10s, then 5s, etc. For example, counting by 5s starting from a number like 20. We want her to say, “25, 30, 35, 40.” This skill is needed to count nickels.
  • Skip count by 5’s using nickels. For example, something costs 25 cents, so she counts by 5s to 25. 

If she is successful at skip counting, an additional goal could be to skip count by 10s with dimes to pay for something that costs 50 cents. An even more ambitious goal is to start with a coin and skip counts from there. For example, she has a quarter, and she needs 35 cents. She needs to recognize this is when to skip count… 25, 30, 35. That would tell her she needs two nickels. This may be too advanced so I know not to start with this more advanced goal. 

Right now, we are working on combining nickels and dimes. I think we are making progress and I am going to stay with it for now. 

Thank goodness for groups like SPED Homeschool that make it possible to share information and ideas.

 

 

 

 

 


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By Jan Bedell, Ph.D., Master NeuroDevelopmentalist & SPED Homeschool Board Member

Teaching methods have come and gone, been expanded, and even more defined through specific curriculum. Some are geared toward specific learning styles and, since humans are all unique, it is good to have various means to get information into young brains. What if I told you about three small ways to make a big difference in your child’s education?

 

Why consider a Brain-Based Approach to learning?

Well, for starters, the realization that the brain controls everything you do would point to the importance of such an approach. If the brain is well-organized and information flows freely to all parts of the body without any sensory interference, the chances of concentrated learning go up significantly. If the individual’s short-term auditory and visual memory is humming along on all cylinders, that makes learning easier as well. If information goes into long-term memory in a way that can be easily retrieved with none of the “but you knew this yesterday” drama, the learning cycle is complete. The question is, how do we get from where we are with learning inefficiencies that make most traditional methodologies challenging for both student and teacher to that complete learning cycle outlined above? The answer lies in The NeuroDevelopmental (ND) Approach.  

In a nutshell, The ND Approach focuses on using the brain’s extraordinary ability to change and grow – plasticity (find out more about Brain Plasticity at this link). By giving the brain specific stimulation or input, it responds by building brain pathways to create better overall function. The central theme of this methodology is to use the Three Keys to Input to attain better coordination, improve sensory feedback to the brain, increase short-term memory, and ensure information is stored efficiently for future use.

 

These Three Keys are Frequency (F), Intensity (I), and Duration (D) – FID

Frequency is the number of times the individual is exposed to the same stimulation/information. Intensity is how strong the stimulation is given. Duration is short periods of time one or more times a day and then over a period of days, weeks, or months. 

What would the Three Keys look like practically in a subject area? Let’s take math computation, for instance. This is an area where we are often in a hurry for the student to be independent. Teaching is really inputting information to the students until mastery is achieved. Typically, we use techniques that are “output-based” like worksheets, speed drills, and flashcards with no answer on them. Where do we think the child will get the answer when we hold up a card with 4+5 on it? We don’t even think much about it. It is just what we do. This output method often reinforces the wrong answers and makes it even harder to master the new concept. An example of FID in math computation is when a new concept is presented, you do 3-5 problems (F) demonstrating how to do the problem. This takes very little time (D) since you are proficient in that skill. The interaction is positive, short, and pressure-free for the student (I). After the initial day or two of input in this way, it is recommended that you do 50% of the math lesson (every other problem) to keep this FID technique going. 

Brain Sprints created the  Rapid Recall System. This is the best Brain-Based Teaching technique where the student sees, hears, says, and writes five math facts 14 times a day (F) and it only takes 6 minutes (D). There are special sound effects to add intensity (I) to the listening sessions. Children that have had trouble remembering their math facts in the past now have them mastered. 

Do you think you don’t have time to sit with your child every day for math? Let me ask you how much time do you spend checking the paper, marking, re-explaining, and dealing with frustration? Trust me, you have time if you rearrange your approach.

 

Three Keys to Input for Reading

Another example of FID for reading proficiency is input instead of output with phonograms. Use the phonogram cards as input cards instead of asking the student what the sound is. Pick 5 cards; hold one up at a time and say the sound; mix the order of the cards and repeat this input for 1 minute. Repeat this process twice a day for about a week. Voila! Sounds are known. If this is not the case, you have to look deeper into the brain function.  The questions would be: 

    • Is there a vision challenge?
    • Is information being stored in the wrong place and can’t be retrieved easily?
    • Does short-term memory need to be improved?
    • Is the brain disorganized?

Once the child knows all the sounds, if there are issues with using phonics, like holding all the phonograms together to be able to decode a word easily, you will want to check on the auditory processing (short-term memory). Good auditory processing is the essential prerequisite to being able to read with a phonics approach. This topic is too lengthy to enter into here, but you can learn more about this important skill with this short video: Auditory Processing  

An individual’s sensory system is an important part of being able to pay attention and not be distracted or in some cases completely overloaded with hypersensitivities. If your child is not receiving sensory information well, you can get facts about the impact and some solutions from these videos from Brain Coach Tips on YouTube.  It Is Not That Loud! (Hyper auditory); It’s Just a Sock  (tactile oversensitivity)

The Brain-Based Teaching known as Brain Sprints NeuroDevelopmental Approach has proven effective with children with all types of labels – Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, ADHD, Autism, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Down, Sensory Integration Disorder. You understand more when you realize that the brain controls everything you do and when there are glitches, it just makes sense to get to the root of the issue in the brain. If you would like some guidance about where to start using a Brain-Based Approach, schedule your Free Consultation or visit  www.BrainSprints.com for more information.

 

 

 


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Jan Bedell, PhD, M ND

 

Math is a necessity for functioning independently in life so the sooner our children get it, the better. In our view, mathematics is divided into three main areas: Understanding of all the concepts, word problems, and math facts mastery.

 

1. Concepts of operations matter 

The word “concept” means what exists in the mind as something comprehended or understood. We want our children to easily understand when they see certain math symbols like +, -, x, ÷. They should instantly know that when referring to addition it means putting things together to get a larger amount; having a certain number of items and then taking some away is subtraction; multiplication is groups of the same number and division is separating things into groups with the same number in each group. 

You can use manipulatives to help the process of mastering the concept but far too quickly our educational practices tend to put the children on their own to do the assignments. Our skewed perception is if we “help” that somehow we are cheating, that the child just needs to do it on their own.

Let’s look at it from another angle. What if you were teaching piano and right after introducing the names of the notes on the staff and teaching the timing of whole, half, quarter, eighth and sixteenth notes you put a piece of Mozart in front of the child and say, “Now play this”. You would never think of doing that! 

It is the same with anything you want to teach to mastery. You demonstrate, observe and help the process along a continuum of steps. The NeuroDevelopmental Approach to math involves lots of “input” (giving the answer, demonstrating the concept often, guiding as the child has their turn with new and review material) and the results are stellar.

If you really want to accelerate math skills, do what we call at Brain Sprints, 50% instruction. This is teaching and instructing goes fast while giving input for future success in math operations. Here is how it works. You do a problem and the child does a similar problem until that concept is mastered. For a beginning mathematician, the whole page would include additional problems where you alternate from mom to child even if you think it could be done independently.

If your child is older, say 3rd grade and beginning multiplication, your page might have a multi-digit addition problem that you do and a multi-digit subtraction problem that the child does and the rest of the time is spent on the new concept of multiplication. After the “review” of addition and subtraction, you do a multiplication problem and the child follows with a multiplication problem until you have done six to ten problems alternating between mom and child. It goes fast and you avoid any need for correction as you are guiding so no mistakes are made. Imagine your child’s continence when math is fun, easy and quick instead of a drudgery followed by frustration and the need for the dreaded corrections. 

There is a resource available here:  Visual Circle Math that gives specific directions on how to do this technique with sample pages. This is terrific for those children labeled with or suspected of dyscalculia or those that are exceptional in math and need to move on to more complex concepts without going through a full curriculum to reach those next levels.

 

The NeuroDevelopmental Approach to math involves lots of “input”… and the results are stellar.

 

2.  Word problems are fundamental

Word problems are the application of the understanding of math concepts. Along with the conceptual understanding, you have to be able to hold the information in your short-term memory to know what operation(s) to use to solve the problem. One factor that has been a huge deterrent to a child’s ability to complete a word problem is the auditory processing level. Parents are often confused when their child with a full understanding of a concept has such a struggle with answering a word problem. It makes more sense when you realize that your ability to hold pieces of information for a short time and manipulate that information in your mind takes that foundation ability called auditory processing. When this developmental skill is low, word problems are often a nightmare.

The solution seems contrary to traditional approaches. Many curriculums teach strategies for solving word problems that often fail when the problems become more complex. Instead of strategies we recommend working on the child’s auditory processing ability. This will not only help with accomplishing word problems but will increase the child’s ability to stay on task, follow directions, comprehend what is said and read and many more functional abilities that will help the child through school and life.

Scroll down to the bottom of this auditory processing information to get your Free Test Kit. If you start increasing this skill, the struggle with word problems will greatly diminish.

 

3. Math Facts are important

Some public schools are not putting any emphasis on math facts but still expecting correct and speedy answers on classroom assignments and standardized tests. This is counter-intuitive. It only makes sense that when children have rapid recall of math facts they enjoy math assignments more as it takes less time to finish a lesson and there are minimal to no corrections needed. The struggle often is, how to get a child to retain math facts. The educational system has come up with these “magic” cards with a problem and no answer that makes the children want to hide when they see them because they don’t know the answer. The other “tool” often used is a speed drill with 70+ problems and the instructions given are, “Get faster at this!”

Not equipping a child with instant recall of math facts is like strapping their legs together and asking them to run faster. If math facts mastery is your goal, try The Rapid Recall System (created by former home school mom and now Master NeuroDevelopmentalist, me). Here your children will see, hear, say and write five specific math facts 14 times a day and only two of those times is information coming from the child. Instead of asking the children to guess at the answer which reinforces the wrong answer when they say it wrong, with Rapid Recall, the children have twelve times of input where the information is going in so it is stored for easy access. The good news is that it only takes 6-9 minutes a day and after 5 days, they are on to the next set of facts with daily reinforcement of the previously learned facts.

Not sure if your child needs to work on math facts? Take this Math Facts Proficiency Test and see how the score compares to different grade levels in this skill. No matter what the age, Rapid Recall System can help your budding mathematicians to retain math facts for life. 

For the SPED Community, use the Discount Code RRS20SPED for 15% off.

 

 

 


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By Dawn Spence

This is the second article in my series on accommodations and modifications. In my first article, I explained the differences between accommodations and modifications.  But now I will tackle the subject of math.

 

No one curriculum is one-size-fits-all, including math. Children with special needs and learning differences can make it a challenge to find a curriculum that meets all their needs. I have bought curriculums and then realized that my child could not complete the activities how they are written. That is when I have to make the curriculum fit her.

 

Math is an easier subject to accommodate and modify as it lends itself to use hands-on materials and can be done on a computer. Math is an abstract subject, but by using manipulatives or other accommodations, it provides a way to make it more concrete.

 

 

Accommodating Math
Here are some ways to accommodate your present math curriculum. This is how we teach our learners:

  • provide graph paper to line up numbers so that information stays organized especially helpful with long division (I printed mine free from www.printfreegraphpaper.com)
  • allow the use of calculators
  • provide visuals and stories to learn math facts
  • provide a list of the steps in written or visual form
  • use dry erase boards instead of pencil and paper
  • reduce the number of problems and even do some problems with your student before having them do it on their own
  • draw a picture of story problems

 



Modifying Math
Here are some ways to modify your math curriculum. This is where we are changing what we teach the learner and what they learn.

  • creating work boxes that address a specific skill
  • using stamps for writing numbers for those that cannot write numbers yet
  • making a math problem multiple choice
  • using stickers or hands-on objects to help your learner count
  • writing some steps for the learner and they have to complete the remaining steps 
  • use real objects to work out story problems

 

 

This list is a starting point to modify your math curriculum. If you have specific questions about how to modify or adapt your curriculum, please see my page  on the website for consultation information.

 

 


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