Ruth Meed, SPED Homeschool Consulting and Blogging Partner

I have used charts, checklists and graphs over the years to track progress for real-world goals. What’s a real-world goal and why is it important? And how can we chart progress toward meeting our goal?

 

What is the standard for the subject and grade level?

A real-world goal starts with discovering age-appropriate goals for all children. You can find lists of goals by grade level at any of these websites.  Remember, grade-level standards are a suggested list of steps. You know your child and how they learn so the suggested sequence may need to be changed to meet your child’s needs. For example, a universal standard in most countries is that children should know their multiplication facts by the end of third grade.

 

Is this set of steps or end-goal appropriate for my child?

If they are realistic, then use the steps listed in the standards guide for your state/province. A child should have learned how to skip count these in 2nd grade. This sets them up for success in third grade to master multiplication.

If they are not realistic, then ask yourself:

  • How much of this goal can is realistic and will challenge but not frustrate my child?
  • Are there steps that they can do? If so, what are they?
  • Are there steps they cannot do? What are they?

You can print out the entire list sequence for a particular grade or subject and mark or underline it with green for good and red for hard rather than rewriting it.

 

Can it be made applicable to the real world?

Can you tell your child how they will use this as they grow older or become an adult? Sometimes this is easy. Balancing a bank account, measuring ingredients, or building a project are real-world skills. Other times the real-world application is that it teaches a life lesson like perseverance. Practice makes perfect is more important than the end goal because it gets you to the end goal. 

It is always wise, especially with kids who struggle, to consider what they will do with this skill in real life. Take multiplication facts, for example. If it looks like they might enjoy construction or engineering, they’re not going to be writing them out as much as they will be reciting them as they are figuring out how to measure lengths for a job. It is good to start with reciting them orally and also writing them down. Both of these skills take the concept of memorizing to a whole new level when spoken and written.

Learning a new skill that they find challenging and encouraging them that their choice to persevere is more important than getting 100%. Every time they persevere, they build not only brain muscle but also emotional, social, and spiritual muscle.

Practice makes perfect is more important than the end goal because it gets you to the end goal.

 

What can we see and measure for this goal?

In the education world, we talk about observable and measurable. This means you can see that your child can demonstrate their skill or knowledge. This can be measured on a test, a quiz, or some other form of assessment. Assessment can simply be a worksheet, quiz, test, report, activity, or project that lets you know your child can do what you want them to do independently. 

We can write our goal:

Student Sally will recite all the multiplication facts from 1 to 10 by the end of the school year. 

Typically the easiest ones to memorize after multiplying by one are twos, fives, and tens. So we might set up our benchmarks like this chart below.

 

Mastery Date Objective Test Method Mastery Goal
  By the end of the first nine weeks, my child will be able to recite all of the multiplication facts for 2, 5, and 10. written 100%
  By the end of the second nine weeks, my child will be able to recite all of the multiplication facts for 3, 4, and 6. written 100%
  By the end of the third nine weeks, my child will be able to recite the multiplication facts for 7, 8, and 9 with 100% accuracy. written 100%

 

Modifying the goal or objectives to match your child’s ability

I used the measure of all of the multiplication facts, which would be 100%. If your child struggles with memorizing things, you need to consider setting the bar lower to be more realistic. You may decide you will be happy if they can do 80% or 8 out of 10 facts. Or they may be successful based on their skills if they can learn 2, 5, and 10’s.

Another change could be, instead of reciting the facts, write them out. Or, have them point to a number on a chart to show that they know that fact.

Listing the goals and checking them off on a chart like this is one way to track goals and show your child what they have accomplished. For more examples and how to use them go here.

 

 

 

 


Did you enjoy this article?

Consider supporting the ongoing work of SPED Homeschool

Donate Today

 

 

 

By Jan Bedell, Ph.D., M ND, SPED Homeschool Partner and  Board Vice-Chair

This month, we have featured articles about Individual Education Plans, or IEPs, for homeschool students. But what if your child still struggles with achieving goals? Do you think your child is capable of meeting their goals but he or she may have a mental block for retaining information? Maybe your child can say all the letter sounds but struggles to put them together when reading. Or does your child still struggle with handwriting goals? An INP may be your missing link to success.

So, what is in INP, and what is the difference between an IEP and an INP? An INP is an Individualized NeuroDevelopmental Plan. NeuroDevelopment (ND) has to do with the brain’s development in three strategic areas of input (getting information accurately into the child’s brain) through the auditory, visual, and tactile channels. We all process information through our senses of hearing, sight, and touch. The brain’s three areas of development for output are language, fine motor, and mobility (ability to move body parts in space, including coordination). To respond to our environment, our brains help us speak, write, and move. Why is this important? The brain controls everything we do, and if the input isn’t right, the output will not be satisfactory. The IEP focuses only on output, or specific performed ability, as the goal. The INP focuses on stimulating the brain to make the goal more easily achievable.

Let me give you an example. If the educational goal is to increase handwriting skills, the traditional approach is to have the student practice writing with specific verbal instruction or a visual example. But, what if the tactile pathway from the brain to the fingers is immature? What if the fingers are not getting the correct feedback from the brain to make the letters well? Or, what if the central detail vision is not fully developed or the eye-tracking and convergence are off, and the visual images are distorted as they are writing? All the practice in the world is not going to overcome these areas of incorrect information from the brain to help the handwriting.

Instead of focusing on the child’s performance, the emphasis should be the root cause(s) of the deficit. Here is where an INP can be very helpful. Allow me to give you an example from my own experience homeschooling my daughter that was developmentally-delayed. On my homeschool IEP, I had the goal of her reading phonetically past CVC words. Of course, a step toward that goal, in my mind, was the mastery of all the phonograms that make up larger words. We used a phonics program with 70 cards representing the sound(s) of each phonogram. My daughter mastered all the cards, even the phonogram with six sounds! But, she was rarely able to hold the sounds together to read beyond three-letter CVC words. 

The brain controls everything we do, and if the input isn’t right, the output will not be satisfactory..”

After getting her INP from a NeuroDevelopmentalist, I understood the additional developmental issues that held her back from reading with phonics. The first issue was her low auditory processing ability. Her processing (short-term memory) was so slow that it prevented the retention of the sounds to make a word after the laborious pronouncing of each phonogram. The second issue that caused reading to be a struggle was my daughter’s central vision had not developed well and, because of this, she kept skipping lines, words, or parts of words. Her INP addressed these areas of neurodevelopmental need. Her plan included eye-tracking activities, specific activities for developing the central vision, and lots of practice for her auditory short-term memory. By adding this input, along with other short, brain-stimulating sessions, she was able to read longer words, which would have been the goal on an IEP but able to be achieved through an INP. 

If you are interested in finding out if an INP (Individualized NeuroDevelopmental Plan) is right for your situation, call for a free personalized consultation  with a NeuroDevelopmental Specialist. Or, to see if low auditory or visual processing is an issue for your child, go to www.BrainSprints.com and scroll down to “Tools” to get the free processing test kits.

 

 

 

 

 


Did you enjoy this article?

Consider supporting the ongoing work of SPED Homeschool

Donate Today

 

 

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.

 

 

 


Did you enjoy this article?

Consider supporting the ongoing work of SPED Homeschool

Donate Today

 

Stephanie Buckwalter – SPED Homeschool Partner Art of Special Needs Parenting

Homeschool is a great place to help your special needs child make progress on therapy goals. The key is to understand what drives your child’s need for therapy and the brain’s need for neurological organization.

 

What is therapy?

Therapy is simply training the body to do things that come naturally to neurologically organized people. A neurologically organized brain learns and develops in ways that we call “normal.” When someone needs therapy, it means there is some kind of disconnect between the body and the brain that causes dysfunction. 

 

Many times, a disorder or dysfunction falls along a spectrum. We use terms like mild, moderate, severe, or profound to identify where on the spectrum. Those terms actually refer to neurological organization. A child with mild disabilities is just a little neurologically disorganized. A child with profound disabilities is very neurologically disorganized. When you work on neurological organization, you are working on moving your child along the spectrum toward “normal” function.

 

How does the brain relate to therapy?

There are three main pieces to the puzzle of neurological organization as it relates to therapy. That means there are three potential points of disconnect you may need to address. Think of it in terms of a sensory-motor process:

  1. Sensory input—external (5 senses) and internal (proprioceptive [where you are in space] and vestibular [balance] senses)
  2. Brain processing—storing information, recalling, memory, making connections, sequencing, signals for motor output
  3. Motor output—speech, run, laugh, jump, write, read, perform, play

The therapy your child receives should address one or more of these three parts of the process. The goal of therapy is to help your child become more neurologically organized or physically proficient so they can function in a more “normal” way, a way that makes life easier for them. Take a look at the same graphic in terms of therapy:

To manipulate input, you would vary the frequency, intensity and duration of the activity to influence the brain. With profound disability or if you are just starting to address an area of need, you should start with high frequency, high intensity and short duration. 

Think of a baby learning to crawl. They try over and over to get up on their hands and knees (high frequency). They rock back and forth. They concentrate on their goal—they are not playing with toys or watching mom’s face while learning to crawl (high intensity). But they tire quickly (short duration). As they begin to crawl, the frequency remains high, the intensity lowers and the duration increases until the skill is mastered and performed with ease.

Therapy should work the same way. This is why homeschool is ideal for therapy overall. You can do daily therapy practice to vary the sensory input that your child needs in terms of frequency, intensity and duration. 

Another thing to be aware of related to sensory input is negative sensory input. Some behavior issues can be related to environmental factors such as temperature, sound, feel of clothing, lighting or visual stimuli. You can also look at food reactions or lack of sleep. If your child is reacting during school, start a diary of each incident and look for patterns to determine the source. I have an Incident Report form you can use in my free ebook Crash Course: How to Teach Your Special Needs Child at Home . It also covers more of the neurological information presented here. 

Next, jump ahead to the motor output. This involves the types of therapy that are most familiar: Physical Therapy (PT), Speech Therapy (ST), Occupational Therapy (OT) and Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy (ABA). One reason for the familiarity is because insurance will pay for these types of therapy with little hassle and schools offer them. When you branch out into other therapies, you are usually on your own as far as paying for them.

Training the motor output is important because our children don’t always intuit what they should do physically, socially or emotionally. They can learn many things but have to be taught everything. If your child is receiving therapy, ask for daily homework assignments and vary the frequency, intensity and duration to get the desired output.

Between the input and the output comes the processing. For a variety of reasons, your child’s brain may not be functioning well. It could be from damage, malformation, inflammation, lack of specific nutrients or a variety of other reasons. There are therapies designed to address how the left and right sides of the brain integrate to help it bypass any blocked pathways, whether physical, electrical or chemical. These are things like rhythmic movement therapy, music listening therapy, Brain Gym® or other therapies that work on balancing or integrating brain functions.

There are other things you can do in the areas of diet, biomedical, energy medicine, naturopathic medicine and holistic solutions. Those are outside the scope of this article but they are an important part of helping your child succeed. Sometimes it is these interventions that help the brain the most. Homeschooling allows you to integrate medical and natural protocols into your school and other therapies in the way that best suits your child’s needs.

 

What does this mean for my child?

For a homeschooled child, you have complete freedom to work with your child at the times and for the duration you deem necessary. You can also apply the idea of frequency, intensity and duration to learning academics or life skills. I’ll give you an example.

One of my children didn’t learn to read until the end of fourth grade. We were on curriculum number five when things finally started to click. But I don’t think it was the curriculum, per se. I had a list of the 2,000 most common words in the English language, ranging from first-grade level to high school vocabulary. I told him if he would read through all the words, he could have a particular item that was of high value to him. (It was not expensive, just highly motivating to him.)

So each day we would sit together and read a word list. They were broken down into 20-word groups. For the early lists, we could do two or three a day. As the words got longer and harder, we would do only one or two lists a day. We did this every day. No matter how poorly he read the words, we sounded them out together. It took about 2 or 3 months to get through the list. He earned his prize and then school was out for summer.

Without even realizing it, I had used the frequency, intensity and duration principles to teach him to read. We did high frequency (we even read on weekends sometimes because he was motivated), high intensity (reading was very hard for him) and short duration (just a few words at a time). We did not review or repeat words as that was not the goal.

By the end of the school year, he was reading at a first- or second-grade level. Like all well-intentioned homeschool moms, I was going to work with him over the summer but that never happened (maybe because I had a newly diagnosed special needs child). Interestingly, by the time school started in the fall, he was reading easily at a second-grade level and by the end of fifth grade that year, he was reading at a fifth-grade level or higher. So after two months of intense “reading therapy” and a break of three months where his brain was processing with no additional input, he learned to read.

I share this to show that sometimes, if we focus more on how we are providing the input than trying to get our child to produce output, we can have amazing results.

For my special needs daughter who has moderate disabilities, the real value has been in working on the brain and neurological organization. She spent time in public school. During that time, I worked with her on brain therapies at home. Through interactions with her teacher, I could easily see what was working and what was not working. 

My focus was strictly neurological organization, not academics, so vast improvements at school were most likely due to increased neurological organization versus academic instruction. I know this is true because her teachers were always amazed at how much she progressed, implying that they didn’t really do anything different with her than the other students to cause such an increase in progress. I also know it works because when I do not keep up with her neurological therapies, she slides into fight or flight mode and doesn’t function very well intellectually or behaviorally.

For my special needs daughter who has moderate disabilities, the real value has been in working on the brain and neurological organization. She spent time in public school. During that time, I worked with her on brain therapies at home. Through interactions with her teacher, I could easily see what was working and what was not working. 

My focus was strictly neurological organization, not academics, so vast improvements at school were most likely due to increased neurological organization versus academic instruction. I know this is true because her teachers were always amazed at how much she progressed, implying that they didn’t really do anything different with her than the other students to cause such an increase in progress. I also know it works because when I do not keep up with her neurological therapies, she slides into fight or flight mode and doesn’t function very well intellectually or behaviorally.

If you’ve ever wondered why therapy is not really working for your child, it may be that they need work on varying input or neurological organization before manipulating the motor output will be effective.

 

What can I do in my homeschool?

Here are some ways to incorporate therapy into your homeschool day and help your child become more neurologically organized:

  • Apply frequency, intensity and duration principles to:
    • Therapy homework
    • Your child’s goals, academics or life skills
    • A particularly difficult subject for your child
  • Add developmental movement to your day
    • Use exercises that are specifically developmental in nature, like those from Brain Gym® or the book Smart Moves
    • Add rhythmic movement therapy to address retained reflexes
    • Take walks – the body is designed to walk and naturally alternates sides, increasing brain integration
    • Do exercises or dance (not necessarily developmentally but better than nothing)
  • Train motor output
    • Learn therapy exercises from your child’s therapists
    • Use hand-over-hand support to teach skills
    • Physically manipulate your child’s body to encourage correct function

 

Never give up on your child, regardless of age. If you can improve neurological organization, you can improve your child’s life. 

 

 

 

 


Did you enjoy this article?

Support the on-going work of

SPED Homeschool

Donate Today