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Everything posted by CyndiLJ

  1. I actually agree with this, that we shouldn't offer less of an education than what any child is capable of. If they can handle higher level math, then they ought to do it! There is no reason to make academics simpler solely because we can choose to do so. But what I think people often forget, and I wish we could find statistics on it, is that many parents opt for homeschooling because their kids DO have special needs or learning disabilities. If they were succeeding in the public system, few would remove them. Also, those same kids, if in the public high school, would drop out, or be passed through, still graduating whether they had done higher math or not. Take a look at any state test scores and see how many kids are graduating over and over without fundamental skills solidly in place, let alone higher level math. So they are indeed graduating, and doing lower level math. (Or being passed through looking like on paper they can do it but in reality can't) I think math and science are the areas special needs learners really, really struggle in, and they are often being held to a level that is unattainable. Does that mean we don't teach science or math? NO! But teach applicable science and math. It doesn't have to be AP level or even traditional high school level, but there is still learning that can occur, subjects taught differently, different topics covered, etc. Why not consumer math, business math, practical odds and statistics? Why not other forms of science like botany, earth science, ecology,basic psychology, and more? Instead we waste time teaching what can't be learned, and lose time teaching what might enhance. All so we can say we offered a "rigorous" course...which is pointless if that child will go on to live a life where that is never used, and where other skills were not developed because of pretending they had the same capacity as others. Put that time to better use, teach practical and applicable subjects where they have a better chance of succeeding, and of covering ground they might actually use in the real world.
  2. This sounds like such a well rounded, practical plan! I think we often have a gut feeling about our kids, and worry too much about making sure they get all the "right" classes done in high school, and in doing so they lose their enthusiasm for a real life path. As you pointed out they can ALWAYS take whatever is missing at CC!
  3. Absolutely about the personal finance! Honestly, we did a rigorous course this year, including a Great Courses course on Stock Investing, a workbook course on personal finance from Starline Press, a couple Blue Stocking Press books, and much more. We have worked on personal finance for years though, including self employment and accounting skills. The truth is, you can lower your need for higher income if you spend more wisely. For some of us with kids who truly can not move into professional careers due to cognitive delay, learning disabilities, etc. it is even more important to teach frugal spending, how not to allow yourself to get into debt, etc.
  4. How wonderful it is to read this, thank you so much! It is exactly what we are hoping to develop...a group that respects the college path yet supports and encourages non-college bound learners and families in their unique pursuits. With four of my own five with learning disabilites (some quite serious, one will never live independently) and one of those 2E, and the fifth testing as gifted, we are all over the map and respect ALL paths, for sure! The fact that we can just be who we are there and our kids are viewed as also having worth helps so much, I am learning. Your words affirm we are headed in the right direction, thank you!
  5. Haha Thanks Lori for mentioning our web site! I haven't been around WTM as much these past couple of years as our older kids are not on a college trajectory for a variety of reasons, largely learning disabilities that grew more obvious the higher we went in high school. We are adding all kinds of links on an ongoing basis to the web site, many garnered from our very active FB group which has grown to 2800 people since October...there are plenty of families out there like us who need more guidance and resources for those non-college bound kids. We are in the process of researching more unusual trade and tech training programs and are gradually adding those links, too. And, I agree with you and others here on this thread. If a student can handle the work, definitely teach to their highest ability! For many students though, college prep is just beyond reach, and there are plenty of great alternatives to still provide a meaningful education without AP classes and SAT's fretting. It is just different, but can still be "meaty" for their own life path. I have my first graduate (Yeah us!!! We did it!) who actually is 2E and could have gone to college, but elected to self study computer tech at home post-high school. He did pretty much the traditional college prep high school path without AP, and we weren't quite as concerned about honors and AP because he would have done community college to start no matter what due to cost. He is well prepared should he decide later on to pursue a degree, even though we knew he was highly likely not to go that route. My next three are not college material. All three have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and a wide array of learning disabilities. To push them with the same level of academics as our first would be a farce, and YET, they DO have a strong foundation, all will be reading at a college level and writing at least at a 10th grade level by graduation. Math and science...not happening...it just can't and would be cruel to expect it. However, we are filling in with courses that really do matter to them, strong personal finance, social psychology (really helping them and being retained and used daily!), and more. My last one is college material for sure, and will be college prep all the way, whether he decides to attend or not. He can handle it (He is gifted, and could graduate very early credit-wise) and we expect him to work at the highest level he can, just like everyone else...though that level is truly different for each of ours. It isn't about "settling" for some learners, it is about their true ability and teaching the learner you have, not the learner you wish you had. Nice to be back and catching up! It's been too long :-) Cindy LaJoy www.bluecollarhomeschool.com www.lajoyfamily.blogspot.com Mom to five, all adopted from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, all adored more than they could know!
  6. I am looking for a textbook or worktext format for our kids for a course on family life, parenting, etc. I have seen the BJU Press course on Family Life Skills, but wondered if there was anything else out there. I am open to secular materials as well, but it seems there is little available. Anyone have any suggestions? Thanks!
  7. Check out http://www.collegeincolorado.org It is a web site for anyone, not just those in Colorado, and it has many wonderful tests and tools for aptitude that suggest possible career options, and a wider variety than I have ever seen before. All free.
  8. We have 3 ELL learners, one Dysgraphic, and one higher LD (particularly with Language Arts) learner, and I need some grammar suggestions. We used Growing with Grammar levels 1-8, and they did well with it, but we need constant reinforcement and lots of work around the quirks of English grammar and spelling/suffixes, etc. I don't want to go to Easy Grammar. Does anyone have any suggestions? We will likely be working grammar all through high school as my kids were ELL learners who came to us as older kids, so I need some variety, if possible, and yet something solid. I appreciate any suggestions! Thanks so much! Cindy
  9. It is sad to me how quickly folks tend to jump to judgment of others' behaviors, enough so that they have to question the OP who is just looking for some reassurance, and perhaps suggestions. Wish we all could be a bit kinder in our responses...snark comes out and conversations deteriorate. I have four teens all essentially the same age. None of them is interested at all in getting behind the wheel quite yet. That tells me they are not ready for it, but some kids are kind of ready but scared. I learned to drive near L.A. ..and though I did quite well most of the time, and am NOT directionally challenged, there were moments that simply threw me for a loop. Those often tended to be when traffic was blocked, detours were in place, or something out of the ordinary happened where split second thinking had to get me changing lanes to prepare or I'd miss turns or exits. I was not a fearful driver, but the out of the ordinary would catch me off guard, then I would lack confidence for a bit. Sometimes we forget that what we view as "normal circumstances" is NOT normal for others. Our kids will be learning to drive in rural Colorado, where traffic is incredibly light, but snow and ice can kill. Different fears, different challenges than what I grew up learning to drive in. Same thing on this list, some of us have kids learning to drive in far different circumstances and environments than others, and close calls for new drivers can cause some to lose confidence quickly. I agree a GPS might provide the back up that could prove helpful, and maybe a conversation about panicked calls and turning off cell phones could eliminate this sort of problem in the future. Kids are doing things for the first time, and their reactions are not always going to be "mature". Uh...did we forget? If they were fully mature beings, we wouldn't need to be parenting them!! Heck...sometimes I definitely need to still be parented, based upon "maturity"!! LOL!
  10. Our three are being held back to allow time for foundational knowledge in just about everything to be developed. For example, our daughters came home at ages 10 and 11 years old, (almost 12), and didn't realize you couldn't drive a car across the ocean to come home, didn't know they lived in planet Earth, thought mermaids were real, and so much more. They were SO confused over things! They are bright, bright kids as is evidenced now almost 5 years down the road, but their deficits went well beyond language acquisition and it quickly became apparent that we had a lot of developmental work to do in order for them to ever function normally in the real world, and for that work to be done we needed time. Logic has been incredibly challenging to work with, and for at least 2 full years I was constantly asked if certain things on TV were really real or were fiction , or representations of fictional stories. Cause and effect thinking was vaguely there but needed serious work, and the best way to describe it was that they couldn't connect information learned in one setting to another setting or situation. With lots of dedicated critical thinking work we have made incredible progress and they will be quite astute eventually. Kids from orphanage backgrounds are not "normal", even if at times some of them seem to be on par academically. If you are institutionalized your entire life, you have not had normative experiences, and there are a ton of blanks to fill in. Our kids had only been in a store a couple of times their entire life, our son adopted at 8 years old had never turned on a light switch or controlled his own environment in any way. None of them understood much about foods, couldn't identify where any food products were stored...does it go in the fridge or cupboard? They had no idea what kind of meat they were eating, or that dairy products all come from a cow. This was a pre-teens...our need to cover basic ground was overwhelming at first, so we needed to start back at the beginning, basically a Kinder level, and discover where the holes were, and then fill them. Thankfully, they understood that need, never fought it, and have the best attitude of any students ever. Our son has as-yet not well defined learning disabilities stemming from possible suspected traumatic brain injury that may be complicated by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Effect...not even sure alcohol was involved, and it mimics things sometimes but when looked at globally seems unlikely. He is also incredibly bright but that was only obvious once he was taught in ways that his brain could take in information. Homeschooling is an absolute must for him, as a classroom setting will never work, as explained to us by several puzzled specialists. Kenny has an uphill battle all the way, and yet he is succeeding well above expectations and surprising everyone! Homeschooling saved that kid. None of the three adopted at older ages were at grade level in their native languages. Orphanage educations are...well...lacking. Let's leave it at that. Our daughter adopted at 10 had only a year and a half of school, couldn't read or write in Russian, and yet now writes so well in English that it would be impossible to tell she is a non-native speaker. This was not about intelligence, but lack of experiences and exposure to material and appropriate teaching. Interestingly, our two sons who came home as infants (each 11 months old) both tested by the school district and were classified as gifted. One is also quite hampered by Dysgraphia that was never tested for until he tested as gifted, then his writing ability did NOT match his obvious intellect, and they finally agreed with me that something was seriously wrong. Needless to say, our life has been filled with surprises...and lots and lots of joy!
  11. We used GWG...and unlike others here, we LIKED it and retention was quite high, even for my ELL learners. It was absolutely something I handed over to them and let them go at their own pace with the self-directed books there was little I needed to do. Yes, we reviewed things together every couple of weeks (that's not unusual, is it? Don't we review EVERYTHING every couple of weeks???). Like you, I really liked the diagramming. For me, the proof was in the pudding...who cares of someone can recite grammar rules if those grammar rules are not applied in writing? We saw strong growth in writing skills, even during the couple of years I struggled to find a good writing program and failed miserably. GWG kept skills moving forward, and was an easy subject for me to have them do on their own. I will say, that as mentioned above, last year we moved to Essentials in Writing, an equally inexpensive curricula that does a terrific job. However, we did all 8 years of GWG prior to moving to EIW, and I am glad we did...the grammar is not very focused in EIW versus GWG, though we started at grade 5. The writing instruction is FAR better than anything else I have seen out there, including GWG's Winning with Writing (We hated it).
  12. I would also begin working with keyboarding far earlier than you might with non-Dysgraphic kids. Ultimately, those who are true Dysgraphics will end up relying on technology to help them succeed, and keyboarding makes writing a much easier process. Our son, now in 10th grade, showed clear signs in 3rd grade but was not tested and diagnosed/labeled until 8th grade. He was labeled 2E, and his frustration level dropped so much once he knew what was wrong. So did mine :-) We use a software program called Word Q/Speak Q with him, and I can't begin to express how much that has helped him. He now sounds in writing as intelligent as he really is. It doesn't catch every error, but it sure eliminates a lot of them. He was quite affected by Dysgraphia, but his knowledge of grammar rules was rock solid. But written work is a nightmare, with both math and writing. Nothing aligns, letter shapes are a mess, I could go on and on. He simply can not proof his own work, he doesn't "see" the errors, but he can "hear" them when something is read out loud. Keep working on grammar, handwriting, etc. but don't pound it. Plug away at it, but overkill might ruin writing permanently for your kiddo, when technology might help them really enjoy it eventually. Get a typing program ASAP and do just 10 minutes a day every day. We use Typing Tutor Platinum with all our kids and they really enjoy it. Good luck!
  13. Being a new homeschooler is one of the most confusing places to be. There are SO many choices, so many differing approaches, and so much to consider. Trust me, it gets easier, but allow you and your daughter this time to relax and ease into this. You've made a good choice, both to homeschool and in curriculum, even if the levels of Sonlight prove to be a little on the easy side, it won't hurt to work through it for the moment while you get your "sea legs". It sounds as if your daughter is a strong learner, and you don't need to worry unnecessarily about her losing ground while she reads the books. Work with what you have while you begin the process of learning how to do this. While you are using Sonlight, take the time to investigate all sorts of other curricula. Evaluate what you want homeschooling to look and feel like for her. You might decide to go eclectic and try a variety of things, or you may decide to go the worktext route or work specifically with one curriculum publisher. Whatever you choose, give yourself permission to make a few mistakes along the way. We all have, and we all learned from them. A few years in, and you will find yourself making fewer mistakes because you'll have a much better sense of what will work for you. For now, take a deep breath, and take the time to educate yourself more about what possibilities are out there. She'll be fine with Sonlight while you spend the next couple of months researching, and you'll eventually come up with something better suited. Congratulations, and use this board as a resource! It helped me SO much when I first started, even though we were totally not classical in our approach! Lots of wonderful homeschooling moms here to offer support.
  14. We used all the levels but K...and we used it with older kids. When we did Level 1 I used it with a gifted then-6th grader who had been pulled from public school the year before and recognized he had very little science knowledge. Also used it with same aged ELL learners, and a more age typical kiddo. This program is top notch. While Level 1 might appear to be "easy" for the early lessons, there were still things we talked about that were new. For example, my bright 6th grader of course knew the various ages and stages of humans...but wasn't 100% certain what an adolescent really was (what age range fell in there, what skills were being learned), and couldn't really explain the differences between an infant/toddler/pre-schooler. We had some great extended conversations about all of that, and it at first glance appeared pretty basic. We "beefed up" things for him, as suggested upthread, by adding additional reading, etc. However, this curriculum is solid, super solid. Take a look at their vocabulary for Levels 2 and 3, and you will see words that are easily upper elementary or even lower middle school level. Advanced concepts are taught in such a way that they seem simple at first glance, but really aren't...they are just so well taught they are easily understood. How many 3rd graders are learning how to decode the Period Table of Elements? That is what is in Level 3, and it is explained so simply that everyone "got it"...and it didn't feel like a "3rd grade" course to my then 7th grader, because he knew these sorts of things are usually taught at much higher grade levels. Hope this helps!
  15. I have found EIW to be a gentle, well paced curriculum for even our reluctant writers. As someone upthread mentioned, what might look like a lot of writing is broken down into small, digestible chunks. I think this curriculum is wonderful, and we have seen vast improvement with it.
  16. Nope. They aren't asking for it, we can't afford it, and it's not likely to happen anytime in the near future. However, our kids are not involved in tons of outside activities, none of them are driving yet, and so our true need is not all that high. We bought a flip phone for them to share when they do happen to be away from home, in case of emergency, but even that sits unused almost all the time. For our family, finances are tight, and we feel something like a phone is an unnecessary expense. If our kids were out and about a lot more, we'd feel differently, I am sure. However, we all agree (kids included) that a personal phone comes when they have a job and can pay for it themselves. Though they all work part-time all winter, they prefer to save their funds for other things. We aren't anti-tech though, and everyone does have an iPad :-)
  17. I'd also suggest Connect the Thoughts for their Current Events curricula.
  18. Our son did this last year, and we ended up giving him .25 credit. However, in addition to simply building a computer, he had to do quite a bit of specific research into what hardware was higher end for advanced AutoCAD work, researched 3D printer for an eventual purchase and learned how they function as well as attended an evening seminar on them. He also spent many hours learning about routers, solutions for small business wifi needs, problem solved for our high usage home, made two mistakes, wired our house for various extensions stations, learned about microwave technology for high speed internet, and spoke with a local internet provider to learn more. He also learned how to replace keyboards and screens on laptops. I felt quite comfortable with a .25 credit, but wouldn't have given him more than that. He is not interested in programming, but is very interested in CAD and hardware.
  19. How about selecting a good high school level anthology and working partly through that as you add in other reading material? That way, you will be guided in doing more lit analysis, etc. but not be chock full of it for the year.
  20. This topic caught my attention because we have THREE kids who were "held back" and will be quite a bit older when they graduate. A little different scenario, as ours were adopted as older children with no English, and we have considerable catching up to do, plus a mix of some pretty serious learning disabilities. I will have all three graduating high school at 20 or 21 years old, but it will be with a true and complete high school education, which would not have been possible had we tried to push things through. Our kids "get it", and are quite glad after many conversations about this issue, that we didn't pretend they were mature enough, or were going to be academically prepared had we graduated them "on time". We thought about the whole gap year possibility, but it didn't make sense because we will be working on several key subjects late in the game. Additionally, we are home, and it just made no sense whatsoever to have to pretend. Our kids are now 15 and 16, and truly could care less that they are 8th and 7th graders. They can easily see they are on target, and are pleased with ongoing progress. They will be more mature at graduation, and we talk openly about living together as real adults while still doing high school, so we provide opportunities for more control over their lives in other aspects. We just haven't had a single issue over it yet, and I doubt we ever will...our kids are too logical not to see the wisdom of it. (Guess some of that logic work has finally kicked in!)
  21. Our daughters were adopted from Kazakhstan 4 1/2 years ago, and have recently decided they would like to retain their Russian. One has largely forgotten it, and one has largely retained the ability to speak and understand it, but never was very good at written Russian due to a poor education, so we are starting over there, practically speaking. Typical programs are not suitable for their stage of fluency. We live in a rural area and have little access to a well educated native speaker. We'd prefer native, as there are nuances to the language that our more fluent daughter easily recognizes are not always spoken correctly by non-natives. Also, she is considering becoming a translator for a career in the future, so we really want someone who can help her elevate her language level and provide more than travel/conversational Russian. We have little money at the moment to be able to put towards this. I am wondering if anyone else has faced this situation or has some creative, solid ideas for me. Appreciate any help!
  22. I used to take much longer to ditch something, early in our HS years. Now, its pretty darned quick. Why waste time? If I can tell right away that something is a total bomb, I'd rather take my losses and move on to something that will work better, and not loose more time trying to make something work. However, the further down the road we go, the less often this seems to happen. Maybe I've finally figured out a thing or two!
  23. I believe my role as educator is to teach them how to teach themselves, as well as give them a strong foundational knowledge base as a springboard. I hope to help them find ways to discover their gifts and talents, and capitalize on them. I want them to walk away from their education feeling strong, capable, responsible, and wise. I want them to have a firm spiritual sense to lean on. I believe my job is more of an educational facilitator and modeler of good habits, both personal and educational. I believe it is my kids' job to respectfully and diligently do their best, and to "own" their education.
  24. How about using dictation software for book reports and keep most curriculum in reading format? Also, does he have typing skills? If not, get him keyboarding. I hated physically writing and put it off a lot when younger, but once typing came along, it was so much easier and I willingly did it!
  25. I was on a "Gotta Get a Real Hobby" kick a year or two ago, when I realized I was a total Mom Loser because I didn't have a single one. I hate crafts, hate domestic stuff (appreciate it in others, just don't find it engaging for myself), hate holding a needle of any sort in my hand, or a paint brush, or...Heaven forbid a GLUE GUN....EEEEEKKKK Somehow, saying "reading" or "writing" seemed so lame. Eventually, I decided to step out of my box and try something I never thought I'd actually do, but might really enjoy if I was good enough. I joined Sweet Adelines! I have SO MUCH fun, and can totally see that I will do this until I die. The women are all older than me, but spunky and a total hoot, and I truly love Barbershop harmonies. So now, I can say I have a legitimate hobby. I sing! And still read and write :D
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