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Everything posted by coastalfam

  1. We are currently studying Ancients, and are on our second cycle through Story of the World (which I just adore). I would like some additional history reading for my 6th grade "little professor". I don't want a high school level text, just something that he can read alongside our family studies for a bit more in-depth information. It does not need to parallel SOTW. I'm wondering what others have used for Ancients, and for that matter, Medieval and Revolution Eras? Thank you!
  2. You might try a program we recently found (8yo son has a writing disability as well as ADHD) called Touch Type Read Spell. It teaches spelling through an Orton-Gellignham method, at the same time teaching typing at the same time, and reinforcing reading. We initially tried it because we felt my son needed spelling practice separate from writing practice, and this was recommended for dysgraphia, however, as I observe the program, I can see the "over learning" aspect of it to be very helpful for ADHD (which I also have, so when I look at things like this, it is from both the parent perspective, and personal experience). Anyway, it's worth checking out. It starts at a very base level, but that is appropriate. My kids learned to read using AAR as well as Reading Lessons Through Literature, and even though both of those programs are so explicit in their teaching of how language works, it still seemed necessary to start at the beginning when it came to spelling.
  3. I've got two lefties, 9 and 13. Both initially learned using Handwriting Without Tears. Honestly, I do think that program is a bit overrated if your child does not seem to need a full immersion in a variety of media in order to learn. That said, it is a strong program, and one reason I liked it for my lefties is the way each page is set up so my lefties are not covereing up the examples. If you look at the page set-up, there is a large example on the top, and then several examples across the lines. If you choose a program with the example along the left hand side of the page, your child will immediately cover up what she is supposed to imitate. Another great aspect of HWOT is the first levels that help the child explore letter formation in a variety of ways without even putting pencil to paper--this is a great first step for lefties, who will not find writing as accommodating to their handedness. However, you can add this step to any program that you choose--just have her use a rice bin, sidewalk chalk, pipe-cleaners, etc. Youtube will have lots of ideas. On the down side for HWOT, there does seem to be quite a bit of pencil lifting in the program--an aspect I regret for my 8yo leftie who also suffers from dysgraphia. I think less lifting would be less tiring. It was the perfect fit for my 13 yo who has Down syndrome and needed a very incremental, explicitly taught program--but even he has altered the way he writes some of the letters in such a way that I can see it is easier for his left-handedness. I've come to accept a few unorthodox methods with my lefties. Neither my lefties nor my rightie (who also used HWOT) has handwriting that "looks" like HWOT font. One thing to consider with lefthandedness you end up "pushing" your pencil forward if forming letters conventionally, whereas righties get to "pull" their pencil toward their hands. It is difficult to push a pen/pencil forward if it does not glide on the paper well, so choosing a program that has quality paper (smooth rather than newsprint) is important (especially as children tend to press really hard in the beginning), as well as a pencil that glides easily. One way I get around this is I use a program I bought in PDF form so I can print it on quality paper from home. You might check out "Handwriting Lessons Through Literature" from Barefoot Ragamuffin Curricula. Just an idea, but you can purchase this program in one of several different fonts, or if you purchase it in PDF form you get all four fonts, that includes Manuscript print (like HWOT), Zaner-Bloser, and two cursive fonts (the PDF, even with all four fonts, is cheaper than a print book--I think). It might be nice to have all four to play around with, using your own left hand to test ease of use. The program page is set up much like HWOT with the examples at the top and across the page, which is accomodating to lefties. Also, printing it out will allow you multiple uses and the ability to choose a paper texture that will not hinder your childs experience. If you want to bind it, bind across the top so the binding will not get in the way of practice. It might be a good first step, and then once you find a font you can live with, move on to something else you liked. My 8yo leftie/dysgraphia kiddo uses "Handwriting Lessons Through Literature" on a weekly basis now, using the initial program for brushing up on form, and the copywork books for practice. I also have him learning cursive, which honestly, I wish I had started with for him, in hopes less lifitng will reduce discomfort and fatigue. And upright cursive seems much easier for him than when we tried slant cursive--slant cursive has too much forward pushing. I really don't think you are overthinking--writing is completely catered to right-handedness. Just be willing to expect some trial and error as you find what is going to work well for your kiddo. Also, I have not regretted teaching my youngest lefty typing starting in 1st grade, as I can see for higher level academic work, it is just going to be so much easier for him to type than to handwrite when it comes to work that will require more than a page or so. Good luck!
  4. Thank you for these ideas, and your kind words. They are very much appreciated. I've tended to separate his composition from his writing, as in having him do his dictation one day, then copy another, but I can see how, especially with this sensitive kiddo, that it's best to just give him the accommodation of voice to text, without requiring a later re-write, for composition pieces. Thank you.
  5. Thank you kbutton and PeterPan for your perspectives. This is helping me think through all of this better. Boy the onion analogy... you have no idea how apt. We also have stumbled on a lot of solutions with this kiddo. Our school skipped a student study and went straight for a full assessment on account of all of the various modifications, accommodations we already have in place in his daily homeschool. I am really hoping this process reveals some of those layers. I also have one kiddo with an overarching disability (Down syndrome), and to be honest, as big a deal as Down syndrome is, it feels easier than having such a tangled mess of symptoms and possible causes. We have OT, Psych, and academic eval in the works. This info is really helpful. I do realize we are teetering on the edge of some autism related symptom set, and that is one thing we decided to have him tested for by the school psych. I had never heard of ADOS. Thank you very much! I will find out about that. Thank you so much for this reminder! It has helped immensely to remember that as homeschoolers (even though we are connected with the charter) my main goal is to find out what is going on so we can address it in our school, whether or not the school finds he is eligible for OT or resource, etc. I am well versed in IEP's, access, FAPE, etc. having a child with Down syndrome, but boy is it a different animal. We know unequivocally what his medical diagnosis is, and we have never had an issue getting appropriate services (LRE was a different story before we homeschooled), but with this kiddo, boy is it tricky. I am a fish out of water here. Also, I am adding VMI to my list to ask the OT to check for. Thanks.
  6. Hey all. We HS though a local charter. I decided at the beginning of the school year to request a special education evaluation for my nearly 9yo. This kiddo is very bright, but asynchronous. He has a diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, with a possible dx of OCD, but his therapist isn't sure just yet. He's not exactly open. What we do know is he has a high level of anxiety. He is bouncy, forgetful, terrible at being organized, and totally paralyzed by any request that involves having to plan (like what toys to pick-up first). ADHD runs in my family, and I am thinking this may be a part of his struggles based on the amount of time he spends in motion, his tendency to perseverate, and other issues I mentioned above, however these can also be OCD. But what is really dropping off lately is his writing ability. I guess I should say it just has never progressed beyond end of Kindergarten level. In fact, it seems to have gotten worse with each year--I think first grade was the pinnacle of his writing ability, to be honest. He is now in 3rd grade. When he writes we have epic issues. I am really good with him. I channel my best self every time we sit down to do writing. Right now, he is able to copy one sentence... with such drama and tears. He cannot independently write a sentence. He is able to dictate a paragraph to me, and then write the paragraph in portions spread out over two or three days. He balks at ALL writing. He loves math, and is able to do all his work in his head to avoid writing. We haggle over who will write the answers to what. I have always felt that fine motor is a challenge, and so have required him to learn knitting, work on an instrument, and take art classes--of course all these things are a nightmare to him, but less so than actual writing, so we just call it "exercise" for his hands. The writing itself looks like a Kindergarten students. It is large, unevenly spaced, lots of reversals, missing letters, and double or triple letters. We have use Handwriting Without Tears from the start, as well as Orton Gillingham method to learn reading--his instruction has been very explicit. My middle son had quite a time learning to write, so on one hand I keep thinking my 9yo will eventually "click" like my 11 year old did. My 11 yo does not have nice looking handwriting despite ongoing work, but loves to express himself through writing. He does not have anxiety, so that might factor in. My 9yo just has always had a lot going on. Super bright, yet super reluctant. Loves reading, loves math, loves science and history, totally shuts down if any other those things include filling in a blank, or writing a sentence, or drawing a diagram. He is also very rigid, very "rules" based. He does not do well with change or surprises (as simple as bumping into an acquaintance). I just don't know how to tease all this apart. I want to trust in the testing process we are in, but the whole reason we HS is due to distrust in public school due to my oldest son's disability, sooo... What does this look like to you experienced parents? "Just" anxiety? Something more? Thanks for you ideas!
  7. I haven't been on the board in a while, so I'm a little late to this party, but I have a 12 yo son with Down syndrome, so I thought I would weigh in. :) I would encourage your DSS to look into local groups and Down syndrome chapters or Buddy Walk in order to connect with other families locally. That has been the best, most beneficial, supportive, and informative solution for us as we raise our son. There is a lot of overly positive stuff on-line at first glance, and I think that is because life with Down syndrome, a lot like life without Down syndrome, is a mixed bag of good and hard things, but unless our kids are still very young, most of us are sharing our challenges privately with other families we know personally, irl or on-line, that we have come to know well and who we know will understand our struggle. Community has been a huge benefit we have gained as a family having a child with Down syndrome. I think that would be my best advice. Find community (facebook is another place to start--though I would warn, in facebook groups often people go there to air their frustrations or get advice on issues without also posting their happy moments, or normal-everyday moments, so that is a flip-side of the coin that makes life with Down syndrome seem perpetually overwhelming!), get good information about what to be concerned with in the first year (the book Samba recommended would work for that), and then just enjoy Baby and understand that this is a step by step journey. With my son, development is in slow-mo, so I never have had an issue with being un-ready to help him, because I've always had plenty of time to do a bit of research, ask questions, and then form a plan. We have a lot of struggles, and it isn't easy, but it is always good, and we always find where we are going. Their child will have their own unique combination of challenges and strengths, much like their other children do, and they will find through trial and error what solutions are best for their kids and their family as a whole. And last, it is okay to have Down syndrome. It's okay to have a disability. Whatever the outcome, it's okay. It's really difficult to go through a complete reorientation. I hope your DSS and family are able to have loads and loads of grace for themselves, and loads and loads of peace through the journey. There will be a lot of helpers, a lot of people cheering them on and loving them. Sometimes, in the really normal moments of life when our son is doing his thing, my husband and I look over at each other and say, "We have a kid with Down syndrome! Doesn't this only happen to other people?" We really do feel like we hit the jackpot. Here is a fun resource I like. This site is run by a mom of a child with Down syndrome. The mom, a personal friend of mine, is also disabled (deaf) and has been involved in disability advocacy for years before she became a mom of a child with a disability. It has been an eye opening and wonderful experience to view parenting a child with an intellectual disability through the lens of the disability community itself. There are resources for parents on this site, as well as many fun stories of people living their lives with Down syndrome. http://www.adayinthelifewithdownsyndrome.com
  8. We switched to Sonlight HBL D from a classical history rotation, because it was to difficult for my kids to piece together US History from a world-wide scope. It has been a fantastic move for us, and besides just enjoying going deeper into US, I also really appreciate how much this program has taken off my plate planning-wise. It has been a big help. My kids are really enjoying the content, as well. I purchased our material used, however, piecing it together would work as well. There are a few books (in level D, at least) that are exclusive to Sonlight, so you will need to purchase those from Sonlight, or they are often found on e-bay. One way that piecing the program together yourself is really beneficial is that you can get some of the read-alouds on audiobook, which is just really nice to break things up. I am making the level work for my range of kids by substituting the book "The Beginner's American History"--a book of historical biographies--with picture book biographies from the library. My most advanced student is 10, and the program, as is, is very appropriate for him--he is a strong reader, and finishing the reading assignments much faster than scheduled, so I would think slower readers could keep up with he schedule fine. Another thing I have done is use some of the readers as read-alouds for my younger-level kids. The Language Arts is one of my favorite parts of this program. It is so wonderful that it is built around the history. We had been using a more classical style of language arts, and just getting really bogged down with all the parts and memorization. I think the Sonlight LA approach definitely fits our family better. It has been an appropriate level for my 10 year old. Next year I will add a supplementary grammar program. We use the prepared dictation method for spelling, and dictations related to reading assignments are included in the LA, which has been nice.
  9. How my boys remember the "ur" phonogram: "ur" as in "turd". :glare:
  10. My 7 year old is able to use MUS independently. We watch the videos together, so I know how to offer help if he needs it. The workbook pages are written to the student, and are not cluttered at all. It's a really successful program for both my kids.
  11. Continue MUS Epsilon, and start Zeta, Sonlight History/Bible/Literature & LA level E, probably Grammar Ace. Undecided about Science. Maybe Bookshark. Maybe The Good and the Beautiful. I'd like to continue to teach my kids as a group, but can see how my future 5th grader is ready for more than the basics, so I might get him his own thing. Rosetta Stone for Spanish. Charter school enrichment courses.
  12. Cognitive behavioral therapy, with a psychologist, has been really helpful for my oldest and youngest in this regard. Our therapist works with lots of kids with ASD and other disabilities, and I really don't think I would be getting through puberty with my oldest's anxiety issues if she wasn't a support for us. It's really been very helpful. Also, I know a lot of people don't want to go there, but zoloft. For my oldest, Zoloft is the difference between even having a conversation about what is causing him anxiety to help him get past it, or at least endure it, versus immediately shutting down or going into flight mode and bolting/fighting.
  13. My 4th grader has been using MUS for a while. He passed the California state testing last year. He was in just beginning Delta at the time. However, we tutored him using materials provided for free through our charter school that were specifically designed to prepare students for the test, so that might have had more to do with it. For a child with ASD, tutoring prior to the test could also give him a chance to understand what to do if he gets to a question he does not understand. There will likely be math and English questions that will pose this issue. The testing is double confusing for kiddos who are not "taught to the test" because common core kind of has a "lingo" to it. Just today, our teacher was tutoring my son for the test, and he did not know what the word "inference" meant. Once explained, he realized that is a skill he does understand, and often performs in his language arts program, it is just not called specifically by that word, if that makes sense. So, I don't know if supplementing MUS will be as effective in this particular situation as would just tutoring him in how to take the test, using materials specific to the purpose. It kind of feels lame to have to do so, but on the other hand, we just look at "test taking" as a life skill that is needed eventually in one kind of situation or another.
  14. For multiple kids/levels in elementary, it has worked out really well for us to use one curriculum for history, geography, art, music, and science. We are currently using one Sonlight level for History/Bible/Literature/Geography, and it is appreciated by all my children, but I still throw in some picture books--a couple a week from the library--to enrich the experience of the kids who are still in a concrete thinking stage. The previous poster mentioned KONOS, another is My Father's World. We've also used Wayfarers, by Barefoot Ragamuffin Curricula in the past. There are many more, so it just depends on what kind of a flavor you are after, what you think you can budget for. We've kind of thrown our own science curriculum together based on the boys ever changing interests. I aim to teach science at my higher-level kiddos grade, but it is easy to include my lower-level boys as long as it is hands-on, or concretely presented, with videos (Youtube is so great), picture books, and projects. (That sounds really complicated, but it's actually nothing terribly fancy.) My older child is expected to complete assignments at his level, and the younger-age/stage kiddos do a very basic assignment like narrating back what happened in a history book, going over discussion questions verbally, coloring a picture or map, or making a graph. I think it is enough for the youngest ones to have positive learning experiences, without much expectation for "out-put" at all. The focus is really on the 3R's. For the subjects that can't be combined (3R's), I first go over lessons with my older more independent student to get him started, and then I sit down to go over the more intensive lessons with my younger (or lower level) people. They each have a Keyboarding program, and other computer programs or apps we have found to be particularly effective in supporting reading or math. I have them pop onto one of those programs during each subject period at different times, so I can juggle people who need my undivided attention. It's never long, but they enjoy it, and it helps them practice their skills.
  15. Sonlight has a free download unit study on North and South Korea, right now. We've been going through it in preparation. Now I am going to go check out the other suggestion. We are so excited!! :)
  16. I'm on my second first grade boy in my homeschool carrier, and honestly, when you mentioned your son will write things for fun, to me that is miraculous, and you need to preserve that innocent, and spontaneous act. It is wonderful that he does that! I would recommend cutting out the writing portions that are sapping his enjoyment of learning while you take a moment to re-assess. I will say, I have a 10 year old 4th grader who I would consider a strong writer, and to get to this point we did *very little actual writing* when he was younger and resistant to it, and instead substituted dictation. Writing With Ease was the program that taught me how this works, but you can use this concept with Abeka. We are doing a very simple and cheap workbook for my current 1st grader called "Daily 6 Trait Writing", substituting dictation for the creative writing portions. Honestly, for first grade, if he is writing on his own (which I really think is so awesome.. wish my boys would), I might me temped to drop any other writing until 2nd grade (or third... we really didn't do anything more than dictation until the end of third), but if you want or need to keep following a writing program, here is how you might adapt Abeka (or whatever) to help him learn to develop his thoughts for writing, without sapping his joy: For anything longer than fill in the blank type activities or write a simple sentence activities, have him dictate his thoughts to you, and you write it for him, and then congratulate him on his wonderful work--the key is, he organizes his ideas, and you take the physical burden of writing. That's it! Really, this worked miracles for my older son. Now that he is proficient at putting pen to paper, he is able to write all the wonderful thoughts that come to mind, but we started with him merely verbalizing them. My younger son is doing so well with this method, too. Today he dictated a very well organized paragraph to me, perfectly following the focus of the assignment, which is much more than he could have accomplished had I had him write the assignment. I think the goal of early writing is to get comfortable organizing thoughts on paper, but to ask little ones to do that with their immature handwriting ability is a developmental leap that I honestly think is inappropriate for many children. Anyway, you don't need to switch to another curriculum to give this a try. Try it out with what you have for a few weeks, and see if it helps!
  17. LOVE this. And I will admit to learning this the hard way.
  18. Math: Trying to decide if I should move this accelerated math student into the next level of MUS (which would be Gamma), or switch to a different, more challenging program. I am hoping Beast Academy comes out with their on-line program before the school year starts so we can check it out. Right now he does BA 2A for fun, and to slow him down a bit with MUS Beta. Language Arts: He is nearly finished with RLTL 1. I have a Sonlight LA 1 on my hands, that I think is a good fit, so we are about to try that. If that works, we will be going with SL LA 2 next year. He's dying to learn cursive, so I will go with HWOT for that. I think the upright font will work better with his being left handed than a forward slanted font. For spelling, I am going to give Spelling You See a shot, because our charter carries it. Keyboarding without Tears has been great, so we will stick with that for typing. History/Geography/Literature/Bible/Cultures: Going with Sonlight, Level E. This is a family study with his older brother. I will supplement with a few younger aged picture books, however this kiddo is a great read-aloud and discussion participant--as long as I don't push any note booking pages (lesson learned, buddy). Science: This is another all-family affair. I think we will go with a Bookshark program, as we can get it through our charter, for a regularly scheduled event. I have been informed by the boys that they would like to study chemical reactions, so looking into a Chemistry kit subscription. Languages: We will continue with informal-ish study of Spanish and ASL. Music: Who knows what instrument he will want to play by next year. Started off as piano, right now it's ukulele. Either way, the rock star husband will handle that, and I will handle music theory. Friday-Funday: We do a mini math and LA session, followed by a quick art project (which he hates, but his oldest brother cherishes, so he obliges me for his brother's benefit), then I let them study whatever they want (this is where the chemical reactions come in). Also, we have therapy, friends over, library. A lot of stuff happens, so it's just become "a thing". There will be numerous enrichment courses at our charter school, now doubt, and possibly adding in speech therapy if his sweet little lisp continues past his eight birthday. We'll see. It's fun to think ahead!
  19. I really enjoyed Botany in 8. It is to advanced, and not necessary, for your kids ages, but definitely keep on your radar if your go through the program again later on.
  20. You know what, we used a couple different things before we ended up using MUS, and while MUS seems light, my kiddo who has used it since Alpha is really strong in math, and my kiddo who struggled through our program search, hating math along the way, now happily does his work (and I do mean happily), and has become very competent in his skills. He passed his California standardized testing with flying colors--and I have not supplemented other than providing the kids with lots of fun math focused games to do if we have extra time after they finish their worksheet, which is most days. I am doing a similar switch with some of our Language Arts. It's just more important to me that the kids are not resistant to their school work. We all learn better when we are calm, and receptive. :)
  21. The BOB books are the best format I have found for my oldest son who needs large print and a good amount of spacing between words. Can anyone point me to readers similar to these so we can have additional practice and variety?
  22. Everyone has been so helpful to me in this! Thank you very much for adding your thoughts and ideas.
  23. Tanaqui, thanks. I hadn't thought of how well intelligent people cope with learning disabilities. I agree that it would be smart to look into it sooner than later. We did as another poster said and have had him narrating his math process to me, and when he says audibly what he is doing, he has caught a couple of mistakes as he was making him. It makes sense as talking non-stop has always been his super power. ;)
  24. These are some good ideas. Thank you. I will try these next week.
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