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Need some advice on selecting math and reading curric. for my stuggling daughter (m)


Michelle in MI
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I used to homeschool my older two children but put them all in a small, private school 3 years ago where my youngest went in as a kindergartner. The school is working well for my two olders who are both above average students. My youngest, however, is more of your average to struggling learner and the school is just too advanced for her which is killing her self-esteem. I am pulling her out at the end of the semester. My primary focus is to get her up to speed in her reading and math. We may have her tested for learning disabilities (not sure if that is the problem) in reading but until then I want to get started on an intensive phonics curriculum. She was not taught enough phonics and is not a "natural" reader. Reading is laborious and she needs all the guidance/tools she can get as well as LOTS of practice! In math she does pretty well but just needs a lot of repetition to cement the skills. She is in Singapore Math right now and is doing okay but I feel like it goes a little too fast for her and the story problems are hard for her. I think I want something more concrete/visual...possible spiral? Does anyone know if spiral is better or worse for slower learners?

 

She is not TOO far behind. I dare say mostly up to grade level. She is capable of grasping concepts they just need more marinading time. She may be a little ADD. She can memorize easily, learns easily by songs and rhymes and is very tactile.

 

Because I don't have a lot of time to research I was wondering if you all could help me out here! :) I really, really would appreciate it! :bigear::D:D

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For a struggling reader, I cannot recommend All-About-Spelling enough! Especially since you said your daughter is a tactile learner.

 

My son has made great strides since we started All-About-Spelling. I know it sounds like a spelling program, but if you add in their readers, it's a wholesome phonics program. I am amazed. I highly encourage you to have a look at their website: http://www.All-About-Spelling.com

 

We also like Math U See for hands on math. We were previously doing Singapore with Miquon (a mixture of the two), but we recently switched to Math U See and we are enjoying it. :)

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How old is this dc? I think you're definitely wise to go with an OG-style spelling program. We're doing AAS, so that's fine, or SWR (did that for years, very good too), or whatever you have access to. But I wouldn't do JUST curriculum. I would go ahead and get started on some evaluations now. Just as a matter of course, I'd have her vision checked by a developmental optometrist. http://www.covd.org has a doctor search engine. Try to find a Fellow if you can. They do more thorough checks than a regular optometrist and may turn up some causes of her reading issues. Then you can decide if you want a neuropsych exam or what next. But I'd start with the eyes, and if that turns up nothing the ears, just to eliminate some physical causes.

 

ADD can be impacted by OT and some therapies like IM and Cogmed. Since the reading is bugging you most right now, I would start with the VT and see if that turns up anything. You can only do so many things at once.

 

BTW, for math I would do something like Shiller Math or Kitchen Table Math for a while. Visual and tactile are not one in the same. If she DOES have any visual processing issues, then using a workbook with visual representation (Singapore, Horizons, etc.) or programs that require visualization (RS) aren't necessarily going to get through. Shiller is very kinesthetic from what I've been told, and my guess is the KTM is as well. Some stop gap math would be good for a while until you get a few evaluations and see what is going on. Ask me how I know. Let me tell you how bizarre it is to have a dc who can READ something, see something, but not really process it correctly or remember it or comprehend it. Btdt. Plenty smart. You just can't put the cart before the horse and expect visual processing (synthesizing and filing and using the information) to occur correctly if the eyes aren't working correctly. Dyslexics (and the whole family of dys' you're referring to) usually have an auditory and/or visual component. The systems both have to work right and be retrained to process the information, THEN you can start learning using those systems. Until then you use what does input well and get processed, kinesthetic, whatever.

Edited by OhElizabeth
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If she got sight words in school, she probably needs some work with nonsense words, my free game is a fun way to learn phonics while getting in some practice with nonsense words.

 

She might also enjoy Sing, Spell, Read, and Write. It is a good phonics program that uses songs.

 

A cheaper method that uses songs is Pollard, it is free online! You can get the original books for a reasonable price at Alibris, I like "The First Book For Little Folk" because then you only need the one book and it is tied to the manual very clearly and explicitly (you could use the online manual.) The link to the Pollard books is in the middle of my Phonics and Spelling book page.

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On the Math issue, we have tried other curricula but love Math U See. My kids went from Houghton Mifflin 2007 (a beautifully illustrated public school curriculum) to Math U See and we prefer the 'twaddle free' Math that is mastery based. It helps you to know exactly where your child is and what to do next. Also, you can go at your own pace using the DVD's as an aid. Good Luck to you.

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I am going to recommend MUS for math. I thought a spiral math program would be good for my kids, but after trying one out, I realized that there simply isn't enough intial drill for each skill and each and every time the skill came around in the spiral, my kids were in tears...they simply couldn't remember...after trying several math programs out we ended up with MUS...lots of drill...but not over kill...and my kids love the blocks and wide open pages...it is really working for us. (I do have one in Singapore...but he is a VERY mental math kind of kid and it is working well for him...but my other 2 needed a program like MUS).

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Thank you so much for all your responses!

 

Thank you OhElisabeth for your guidance in testing. The elem. school she attends hasn't been all that helpful. With my olders boys everything came easy so I haven't had to deal with this before. She is 9 yo and I don't necessarily think she has a LD as much as I think she is just a slower processor that is been in a more advanced academic situation and always hurried along. What I was thinking of doing was bringing her home and going back to the beginning to reteach and THEN if I see roadblocks follow through on the testing...since it is VERY expensive to test. Do you think that is appropriate?

 

Thanks for bring up CLE for those who did. I have never heard of it before! Could you tell me specifically what you like about particularly for a slower learner? I really appreciate it!

 

AAS is definitely at the top of my radar! Do you think it could be used to teach reading? What would you need to add to it to make it to help reading? She really needs to work on fluency. Her reading issue is more about seeing a word she hasn't seen in print before and not able to decode it. She doesn't have that intuition with words. For example, my boys would see the word "horrible" in a book and because they were familiar with the word would take one look and fairly automatically know it was horrible by giving it a quick one over. My daughter does NOT have that ability. If she is not familiar with the PRINT word she needs to decode it yet doesn't seem to have the ability to sound it out either. Again, is this lack of instruction or an LD? Anyway...do you think AAS would work to over come the decoding and what do I need to add for fluency?

 

Thank you SO much for taking the time out of a busy week to answer my questions and to help me! I will look over all the other curriculum mentioned and probably be back with questions! :D

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A lot of children need a lot of explicit phonics work before they can learn to decode anything.

 

I did not realize your daughter was 9, that is old enough to watch my free online phonics lessons. Most students who watch them gain a grade level or 2, but Don Potter had one student who gained 6 grade levels after watching them! They are linked below.

 

You can also work through the program on my how to tutor page, it has syllable division rules and exercises that are helpful.

 

Also, I cannot emphasize the importance of nonsense words enough. The use of nonsense words and a bit of spelling has greatly shortened the time it takes my remedial older students to get to grade level, it took a lot longer before I added in nonsense words.

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AAS is definitely at the top of my radar! Do you think it could be used to teach reading? What would you need to add to it to make it to help reading?

 

You can use to help with reading, it really helped my kids (and I wasn't even trying to use it for reading!). It's a complete phonics program. I don't know if you've looked at the sample lessons online, that might help you decide. When I started it, my kids were at the end of 3rd & 5th grades, and were reading just slightly under grade level, so I really was more focused on spelling. But their reading levels improved greatly within a few months, and both had scores that were 2 grade levels higher the next year. I wrote more about how it helped us in my blog.

 

AAS includes lots of segmenting activities, and the first book especially focuses on making sure the child hears all of the sounds in a word, and can break a word down into its sounds. This is an activity to continue throughout their reading and spelling instruction, whether or not the lesson focuses on it--for us it became something we just did whenever the kids stumbled on a word.

 

You would need to add more reading practice of course. You could use the AAS readers, or readers of your choice. The word cards, word lists, and dictations could all be used for reading practice as well. If her reading level is ahead of her spelling level, you might want to work ahead for reading purposes--so work at one place in the series for reading and another for spelling, or go through it faster for reading.

 

I was surprised that it helped my kids in reading because we only did levels 1-3 that first year, and their reading level was higher than that. But what it did was fill in some gaps for them, make them faster at reading what they did know, and it was another "voice" besides just mom showing them how breaking words into sounds and syllables really does help with reading!

 

I agree with OhElizabeth, that I would also look into www.covd.org. My oldest also has vision processing issues. After a year with AAS, I saw how much both of my kids improved but there was something about my son that made me think he had to work at things too hard to accomplish the success he was achieving. And he still sometimes guessed at longer words (like your example of "horrible--he might just look at the "hor" and make a guess, or he might see the H and the ble and make a guess, etc...). Vision therapy has been a really important part of the process here (I'm actually amazed at how well he could read now that I know--in his case his eyes were actually darting quickly out and back in, rather than focusing on words as he read--no wonder some words came out jumbled!). Anyway, it's worth looking into. HTH some! Merry :-)

Edited by MerryAtHope
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Well that's your call, but I will say that not all the testing is so expensive. Our evaluation with a very good developmental optometrist, 2 1/2 hours, was $250. Sounds like a ton of money, but we got a TON of answers. So it depends on what kind of evaluations you're getting and who you go to. A neuropsych evaluation could cost thousands. A good eye exam by a developmental optometrist would be a fraction of that. I figure a good eye exam never hurt anyone. In fact, at our place the developmental optometrist will do a regular exam ($60? Just like any other eye doc) and simply screen for further problems. If a deeper evaluation is warranted, then they could do it.

 

Your call. I just wouldn't let it go on very long without pursuing something. This is the age when it really shows up, because their compensation measures are no longer adequate to keep up. And yes, what you're calling "a slow processor" might have other names if you got her evaluated. I kick myself over all the things I saw over the years that were symptoms and indications of things that I blew off as personality or preference. There were lots of signs there, and I just never connected the dots.

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I can't say enough good things about Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise. It is phonics based instruction up to a 4th grade level that is scripted for the parent with short lessons. My dd is midway through and reading fluently at a 1st/2nd grade level. You can skip over or skim through anything she already knows too.

 

Rightstart Math has been great here. I don't know how it is at the higher levels (we have A & B which for most covers through 1st or 2nd grade), but the math game book and cards can be used at any level. If your daughter enjoys games, they are GREAT for reinforcing math facts in a fun way.

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