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CuriousMomof3

Upper Elementary/Middle school writing curriculum with the least writing?

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My 9 year old has destructive arthritis in his hands and wrists.  He doesn't handwrite at all, but can type slowly, however he runs out of stamina quickly.  On the other hand, he's very bright and learns quickly.  His spelling, punctuation and grammar are beautiful, but he can only write a few sentences at a time.  

I'd love to find a curriculum that focuses on the organizational pieces of writing, and helps him transition to longer pieces, probably with a combination of writing and dictation to a scribe.  I don't think that copywork, or dictation makes sense for him, both because he has the skills that they teach, and because of the fine motor piece.  

Ideas?

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Wow, that's a hard situation! Have you looked into tech for him? Almost any tech now (ipad, kindle, cell phone, anything) will do dictation with no added cost. There's also software like Dragon that will customize to you and learn how you speak to make it even more accurate. It sounds like tech is going to be part of his long-term solution. 

I think you could consult with someone (ps IEP team, county board of disabilities, psychologist, whatever), and get helpful ideas.

If he uses a headset, the accuracy of the dictation will improve. 

So yes, release yourself of guilt. Copywork is glorified handwriting while working on conventions. He doesn't need handwriting practice and there are lots of ways to work on conventions. If he uses tech and speaks his punctuation, he's going to get solid really quickly. See if anything here would work for him https://learningtools.donjohnston.com  Co-Writer is available as a google chrome extension. Ginger, Grammarly, etc. will be good tools. Just keep looking for stuff. 

I'm trying to think whether there's a way to use Inspiration hands-free. You were talking about organization. Inspiration will help him make mindmaps that convert to outlines and then to word processor, all in one program. So if he can use that with speech to text, he's home free. It would make the whole thing a lot less tedious. 

As far as the actual curriculum, I think anything will work as the tech is the main thing. Is there something you wanted to use that you're not sure you can make work? I like SWB's WWS, but 9 is really young. At that age we had completed Writing Tales 2 and were doing things like Wordsmith Apprentice, more advanced Classical Writing levels, writing with prompts, book summaries, writing integrated into the curriculum (Beautiful Feet Geography, etc.). We started outlining magazine articles around then. We would use mindmapping software and map them for the outline. 

I really think I'd keep the amount of writing age-appropriate, IQ-appropriate, and go heavier on the tech. You want his language skills to continue to develop. The brain and the body are not the same and he needs the chance to be all he can be, irrespective of what his body is doing. Get him writing MORE, not less. Enter him in a writing contest or help him set up a blog! Get ways for him to participate online using interests he has (rabbits, things he makes, whatever). There's going to be a hump with learning the tech, so you can make it motivating. He's just old enough to enter National History Day. He can't go to nationals as a 4th grader, but he can compete at the regional and state levels and have a lot of fun! It will be harder, but get him over the can't hurdle and get him going with the CAN. My dd did documentaries for National History Day. I'll bet your ds could do that. Can he operate a touch pad with basic swiping motions? If he can't, he can't, but I think you're going to find a lot out there he CAN do if you go really hard on the tech.

Here, this is under $30 and he can set it to operate by touch. Or at least I can on my Wacom Bamboo. On a mac you can alter the swipes to work for him, changing the number of fingers. My dh has very awkward fingers, so for his computer we went through every swipe to select ones he could do more easily. 

So it's just my two cents. My dd had a horrifically hard time writing, so I would scribe the mindmaps for her and help her do brain dumps. But once she had that, I got out of the way and she had to use her tech. That would be my advice, to give him tech and teach him so he can be as independent as possible for as much as possible. I would scribe math. 

Does he have access to tech? What is working for him and what isn't? And just because I'm curious, is it limited to his hands or is it affecting other parts of his body as well? Is his speech affected? And does he have any hobbies or special interests you'd like to capture in the writing? He's at a good age to do basic paragraphing workbooks (Scholastic sells them), but IEW has a lot of fun themed stuff. And it's also fine to be reading articles he'll find interesting and outline them. Around then we did a 50 Debate Prompts workbook that we did orally. Persuasion is one of your writing genres, so it's good stuff. I think you can get that workbook as an ebook now. 50 Debate Prompts for Kids - Scholastic Teacher Storehttps://shop.scholastic.com/.../50-debate-prompts-for-kids-9780545179027...

Some kids get into copybook around that age and collect quotes. Killgallon's stuff on sentence work is good. SWB/PHP sells a poetry series that is good. The writing prompts from the Jump In tm are good. 

But mainly, get him writing things that matter to him and get him unleashed. For this age, making the transition to serious tech proficiency would probably be a really important goal. He'll have a growth spurt going into 5th and be ready to do more organized compositions.

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For the typing, maybe explore a Swype keyboard for use on a tablet/iPad.  A Swype keyboard enables the user to drag their finger from letter to letter as they form words and incorporates word prediction software.  For dictation, maybe explore Siri, Android, and Dragon speech to text.

For explicit writing instruction, maybe check out Story Grammar by MindWing Concepts. 

https://www.nuance.com/mobile/mobile-applications/swype/swype-keyboard.html

https://mindwingconcepts.com/collections/story-grammar-marker

 

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Thank you both,

He is a pretty complex kid, I wrote more here if you are curious.

He is very fluent as far as technology (with the limitation that he can’t isolate his finger movements so will probably never touch type) and uses a lot of tech for things he’s interested in (math, science, chess, computer programming).

However, time is probably our biggest challenge.  He sleeps about 14 hours a day, and spends 15-20 hours a week at the hospital for various therapies, plus a lot of time in the car, both heading to and from appointments and shuttling his siblings around.  He’s also a kid where regular things like eating and getting dressed take longer.

Given the time constraints, and the fact that I want to protect the time he has for the things he loves, my guess is that most of the time he has for English, and History, will be when something else is going on, either he’s getting a breathing treatment, or in the car, or in a waiting room, or on the sidelines at a sibling’s sports practice.  In my experience voice to text is challenging in any of those settings, because of background noise.  So my thought is that we’ll work on voice to text in the context of science, and practical stuff, and in speech therapy, and OT.

Which is the long way of saying that I think for this I want resources that either don’t have any writing (e.g, a video to watch, or something to read), or that he can dictate to me or another adult.  

I am also leaning towards not doing any formal grammar or spelling.  My oldest kid is going into 7th in a Catholic school that puts a lot of emphasis on those things, and gets good grades and good feedback on his writing, and mechanically my middle kid (the one we are talking about) is stronger.  

This will be our first year homeschooling, he joined our family in December, and my two bio kids go to school.  So I don’t have a specific curriculum in mind.

 

 

 

 

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40 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

In my experience voice to text is challenging in any of those settings, because of background noise.

Have you tried with a headset with microphone? My dd uses earbuds with a microphone. They isolate pretty well. 

My dd slept a lot too, sigh. She has always been at least 12, and she didn't have the additional medical appts. It sounds like you're thinking through it clearly.

I'll go read your other post!

42 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

This will be our first year homeschooling, he joined our family in December, and my two bio kids go to school.  So I don’t have a specific curriculum in mind.

Congratulations! I didn't realize you were so new to homeschooling. That explains the extreme open-endedness of the question. Let me read your other thread and think. Developmentally this is kind of an in-between stage. It's a good age to do interest-driven writing. There's often a developmental leap around 5th and then more of that organized writing/analysis comes in. So I'm not saying be hairbrained, just saying you don't have to feel guilty about what you're doing, not doing, or like you need to push something. He can do almost ANY writing this year and be in a great position for next year. Have him read widely, across a variety of genres, so the language can come out in his writing.

Is there anything he really likes or is interested in? I was really serious that I would go with interests. IEW has themed books that would not be hard to use. They could be just enough and you could probably get them done between all his appointments. That would probably be a top contender to me. https://iew.com/shop/products/all-things-fun-fascinating  Here's an example.

Would he like to have a blog, journal, or in some other way use daily writing to process his life? He's had a lot of change. He might like to use youtube or other things to connect with the world. There's a FB page Special Books by Special Kids he might like to follow at some point or that you might find interesting. 

I think that's fine not to do any formal grammar this year. People will do that, alternating years with something else. Mental health is more important than anything, so using that time to talk, read literature together, bond, process, whatever. 

My dd got into opera around that age. We also did a book of scary short stories one year, haha, but opera is more respectable I guess. She would read a summary https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000C4SNEY/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1 and then find the opera on youtube and watch it. Might be something nifty he could do while waiting for appointments. That book I linked is wonderful. Someone had told me gifted kids love opera, and it seems kinda true. If he's not quite ready for that, there are short versions of Shakespeare and Gilbert/Sullivan (lite opera) by Clyde Bulla that could work the same watch, reading together and then watching the video.                                             Stories of Gilbert and Sullivan Operas                                      He's not too old to enjoy the picture book versions either. So beautiful. https://www.amazon.com/s?k=bruce+coville+shakespeare&i=stripbooks&crid=L0DINOCVSHLU&sprefix=bruce+shakesp%2Cstripbooks%2C149&ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_13

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Ok, so I'm reading dmmetler's advice on math and science in the other thread and it sounds spot on. He needs some portable, serious level science to keep him moving forward, and it sounds like you already have a math plan. 

So you said you want to focus on math, science, and writing. Why is writing so important to you? Just wondering. When you push yourself to make goals and say WHY, then you'll be more solid about what to do, how to do it. Like if your goal is to help him express thoughts he's having, then doing xyz curriculum may or may not be helpful. If your goal is to help him process life, maybe you do more freewrites, starting a blog (my life...), etc. Really nail down WHY the writing is important. 

So just thinking out loud here, but I would try to nail down his reading level and use something that engages him on his level. You said he has already been advanced 2 grades, which means he's functioning on at least a rising 6th grade level. I have no doubt he is. So that means he's probably reading on a 9th-12th grade reading level, possibly adult in areas of interest. So if you go doing some writing curriculum meant for 4th graders, it might feel really young. Might be fun or might not. I would go by your gut on that.

I think I would combine your science and writing goals by having him write in a variety of genres as response to science reading. I don't think you have time to dilly dally with a lot of separate subjects, and I HIGHLY doubt he needs an extreme amount of instruction on structure, let alone style. If his reading is extremely advanced (my dd's always was) and his language is right there with it, then you don't actually need IEW. I would have him read and respond to what he needs.

Here's an example, and I'm not saying this is the right level, just that it's something we used that I liked.                                             Best American Science and Nature Writing 2017 (The Best American Series ®)                                       This entire series is amazing. I used it as part of my dd's high school science, but she's not particularly a science person. I wouldn't find it shocking if your ds is *close* to enjoying it now. Just try some things on him and see, kwim? A lower level would be something like Muse magazine. That's something we used at that age. Charming, exceptionally well-written articles, very accessible.

So I would make a list of the writing skills you want him to have and spread them across as responses to the science reading.

-outlining

-persuasion

-opinion

-narrative

-expository

etc.

I would probably have him outline one article every week and then have him write a response piece. It can be any length and any genre of response. Just go through the Common Core list of writing genres and you're there, boom.

 

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Since you've now compacted science and writing, you might have some room for history. I don't think I'd do *none*. I mean, I really truly passionately hate history, and I wouldn't want NONE, kwim? But I would pick some kind of sliver. Or else say it's the year of geography. Does your state have any requirements for homeschoolers? You may have to sneak some in to comply with state law.

It would work to do some form of science history to hit history. There's a really terrific science history series by Hakim that might be accessible to him. It's pretty rough, but you never know.                                             The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way                                      and there are teacher's guides for each volume.

Or do biographies of scientists and have him do say one a month and put them in some context. That would be history but connecting with what he enjoys. I'm just saying I would at least do SOMETHING.

Remember, WEM (well-educated mind, SWB's follow-up book) uses that follow a thread across history approach. It's a totally valid way of learning, very organized. You don't have to take your sciency kid and shove him through a history book to hit history, but I would do something. 

 

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I just realized something. He may be tired from all his therapies. My ds has a lot of fatigue after a 2 hour speech therapy session, so the next day is usually a loss. We had to stop gymnastics so he could learn to read. It may be that he's working so hard that he's just exhausted. That makes your streamlining extra, extra wise. And I think if you hit writing, reading, social/emotional learning, history all through science, it's brilliant. 

Can you stack his therapies or arrange them to make your week go well? Like maybe have Sunday off from therapies, Monday-Wed to work, Thurs-Sat for therapies. I don't know. Just thinking that recovery time is going to make it challenging. At least it is with my ds. 

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2 hours ago, PeterPan said:

I just realized something. He may be tired from all his therapies. My ds has a lot of fatigue after a 2 hour speech therapy session, so the next day is usually a loss. We had to stop gymnastics so he could learn to read. It may be that he's working so hard that he's just exhausted. That makes your streamlining extra, extra wise. And I think if you hit writing, reading, social/emotional learning, history all through science, it's brilliant. 

Can you stack his therapies or arrange them to make your week go well? Like maybe have Sunday off from therapies, Monday-Wed to work, Thurs-Sat for therapies. I don't know. Just thinking that recovery time is going to make it challenging. At least it is with my ds. 


Fatigue is a huge issue, not just from therapies but he's also got chronic pain from the arthritis, and pretty major heart/lung issues, plus adjusting to being in a family again is a huge task in and of itself.  I think because he's so cognitively strong, that reading, or listening to an audiobook doesn't feel like work to him, but pretty much anything that involves a response does, particularly if there's a motor component to the response.  We get around it for math,  partially because the passion drives him push past the fatigue, but also because his tutor scribes everything for him, and when the tutor's not there he might do something like Khan or Alcumus which requires pretty limited motor responses, or he might read a math book, but he's not producing written work.  

Scheduling is complicated.  We spend 2 long days a week at a hospital that's about an hour a way, with multiple therapies, multiple specialists, and infusion appointments.  Those days can't be changed.  Outside of that, he's just got OT and speech, and we schedule those back to back on one morning.  He generally falls asleep after lunch, and when he wakes up his siblings are home, which is great for him but adds another layer of chaos, and things like carpools etc . . . That's when his math tutor comes, which is great because I can focus on the other kids.

We're also a pretty busy family, my other kids are pretty athletic so there are usually a few games to watch on the weekend, and we like to go as a family.  Plus, we're pretty consistent about attending church and visiting family on Sundays.  And of course, he needs and benefits from all of that too.  

So, putting all of that together, I'd say that other than math, and reading which he can do in the car, or in a waiting room, or whatever, he's probably got 5 hours a week, over two mornings for "school"?  

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Ok, so I'm just asking. What would happen if he dropped OT and speech? My ds has therapies too, so we're always making that trade-off on what is worth it, what I can do at home, etc.

Having a good life is healing. Being happy, being surrounded by peace, etc. reduce pain. It's ok to turn down some therapies in favor of joy or improving quality of life. And if he's like no, doing xyz really improves my quality of life, then fine! But there could be trade-offs. Some stuff you could do at home. 

He's very blessed to have someone working so hard to make all this happen!

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3 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Since you've now compacted science and writing, you might have some room for history. I don't think I'd do *none*. I mean, I really truly passionately hate history, and I wouldn't want NONE, kwim? But I would pick some kind of sliver. Or else say it's the year of geography. Does your state have any requirements for homeschoolers? You may have to sneak some in to comply with state law.

It would work to do some form of science history to hit history. There's a really terrific science history series by Hakim that might be accessible to him. It's pretty rough, but you never know.                                             The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way                                      and there are teacher's guides for each volume.

Or do biographies of scientists and have him do say one a month and put them in some context. That would be history but connecting with what he enjoys. I'm just saying I would at least do SOMETHING.

Remember, WEM (well-educated mind, SWB's follow-up book) uses that follow a thread across history approach. It's a totally valid way of learning, very organized. You don't have to take your sciency kid and shove him through a history book to hit history, but I would do something. 

 

 

Sorry, I seem to be replying to all your great posts in backwards order.

I wouldn't say that we aren't going to do history, but that the history will probably be organic and come from him, and mostly be through reading and audiobooks.  He reads everything that comes into the house.  I am constantly amazed by what he picks up from that.  This year, I'm relatively certain he read every book that his older brought home from school, and my guess is that if you sat the two of them down together, he retained more than the 12 year old.  Next year, his older brother will be studying the medieval period, and I'm guessing that we'll see the same thing.  Similarly, I'm not going to "assign" novels, but I can guarantee that he'll end up reading a ton of them, or we'll listen to them in the car so we can talk about them.  

We spend so much time on things that he has zero choice about, and that are incredibly hard for him, that I don't really want to push curriculum on top of that, especially given that he's so far ahead.  I want to do a little adult directed writing, because it's one thing he doesn't really do on his own, and because I think he'll get to the point that the fact that his writing is so far behind his other academic skills will limit his access to things he wants to do, but other than an hour or two of that a week, I'd hoping that everything else academic can come from him, with the focus on figuring out what bring him joy.  

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11 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Ok, so I'm just asking. What would happen if he dropped OT and speech? My ds has therapies too, so we're always making that trade-off on what is worth it, what I can do at home, etc.

Having a good life is healing. Being happy, being surrounded by peace, etc. reduce pain. It's ok to turn down some therapies in favor of joy or improving quality of life. And if he's like no, doing xyz really improves my quality of life, then fine! But there could be trade-offs. Some stuff you could do at home. 

He's very blessed to have someone working so hard to make all this happen!

 

He actually sees all of his therapists far less than each of them would like, because of those trade offs you mention.  OT and speech would like to see him 3 times a week. PT would like to see him every day.  

At this point, the focus of OT, PT and speech is on maintaining function despite pretty dramatic changes in the underlying medical picture.  Speech is focused on coordinating eating and speaking with breathing.  PT and OT are about finding ways to do things that he used to be able to do, in ways that are safer or cause less pain.  So, they're all pretty important, and way outside my expertise. 

 

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2 hours ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

Similarly, I'm not going to "assign" novels, but I can guarantee that he'll end up reading a ton of them, or we'll listen to them in the car so we can talk about them.  

This is awesome!! It's what my dd did, and that, paired with the science reading like I linked you, gave her AMAZING ACT scores. If you look up the science section of the ACT, it's basically that kind of reading. (articles, charts, thinking about them)

 

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2 hours ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

I want to do a little adult directed writing, because it's one thing he doesn't really do on his own, and because I think he'll get to the point that the fact that his writing is so far behind his other academic skills will limit his access to things he wants to do, but other than an hour or two of that a week, I'd hoping that everything else academic can come from him, with the focus on figuring out what bring him joy.  

Purdue OWL has free writing information or you could use any high school english handbook. Usually they float around for free in older editions. You just need a little help with structure and then to assign it. 

Or go with the IEW stuff. It would be 8-9 projects, not too much. There's also a straightforward workbook on paragraph writing from Scholastic that I used with my dd around that age. It hit your basics and wasn't too time-consuming. 

                                            The Writing Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers                                       This is what I got to use with my ds this year. Your library might have it just so you can see what you think. 

I'm just tossing out different ideas as options. Any of them would be fine.

Maybe I had the publisher wrong? I LOVE Teacher Created Resources.                                             How to Write a Paragraph, Grades 6-8                                      and                                             How to Write a Paragraph, Grades 3-5                                       It's not what I used, but it's the idea. (open and go, a little whit)

                                            Paragraph Writing Made Easy!: 8 Classroom-Tested Lessons and Motivating Practice Pages That Teach Kids to Write Organized, Detailed, and Powerful Paragraphs                                      this is what I used with my dd. 

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Here are your grade 6 Common Core standards. I use them because my ds has an IEP and because they give me a tidy way to see where we're on track and where we're (ahem) intentionally diverging. It lists the types of writing. I suggest making a basic plan like 8-9 projects over the year and picking how you want to accomplish them. 

http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/W/6/

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6 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Ok, so I'm reading dmmetler's advice on math and science in the other thread and it sounds spot on. He needs some portable, serious level science to keep him moving forward, and it sounds like you already have a math plan. 

So you said you want to focus on math, science, and writing. Why is writing so important to you? Just wondering. When you push yourself to make goals and say WHY, then you'll be more solid about what to do, how to do it. Like if your goal is to help him express thoughts he's having, then doing xyz curriculum may or may not be helpful. If your goal is to help him process life, maybe you do more freewrites, starting a blog (my life...), etc. Really nail down WHY the writing is important. 

So just thinking out loud here, but I would try to nail down his reading level and use something that engages him on his level. You said he has already been advanced 2 grades, which means he's functioning on at least a rising 6th grade level. I have no doubt he is. So that means he's probably reading on a 9th-12th grade reading level, possibly adult in areas of interest. So if you go doing some writing curriculum meant for 4th graders, it might feel really young. Might be fun or might not. I would go by your gut on that.

I think I would combine your science and writing goals by having him write in a variety of genres as response to science reading. I don't think you have time to dilly dally with a lot of separate subjects, and I HIGHLY doubt he needs an extreme amount of instruction on structure, let alone style. If his reading is extremely advanced (my dd's always was) and his language is right there with it, then you don't actually need IEW. I would have him read and respond to what he needs.

Here's an example, and I'm not saying this is the right level, just that it's something we used that I liked.                                             Best American Science and Nature Writing 2017 (The Best American Series ®)                                       This entire series is amazing. I used it as part of my dd's high school science, but she's not particularly a science person. I wouldn't find it shocking if your ds is *close* to enjoying it now. Just try some things on him and see, kwim? A lower level would be something like Muse magazine. That's something we used at that age. Charming, exceptionally well-written articles, very accessible.

So I would make a list of the writing skills you want him to have and spread them across as responses to the science reading.

-outlining

-persuasion

-opinion

-narrative

-expository

etc.

I would probably have him outline one article every week and then have him write a response piece. It can be any length and any genre of response. Just go through the Common Core list of writing genres and you're there, boom.

 

 

I think the question of why I want him to do writing is a good one.  For me, it comes down to three reasons.

1) If I think about what the bare minimum would be for me, if I was choosing a school for my other kids, it would have the following subjects: Math, Reading/Literature, History/Social Studies, Science and Writing.  If I went to visit a school and they didn't have one of those things I wouldn't even consider it.  Left to his own devices, and unfortunately we know what my kid does when he's not being parented at all, my kid reads a ton, including things that teach him science and history, and he does a ton of math, but he doesn't write.  When you add parents into that mix, he reads and even greater variety, talks about what he reads, and begs for access to more math and science.  But he still doesn't write.  So, I feel like he should be doing some writing during the school week.  It doesn't have to be a huge amount, but it seems like part of being a responsible home school parent. 

2) While his writing skills are great for a 9 year old, and perfectly fine for a 6th grader, they are also behind the rest of his academic skills.  If I think about the future and what I can imagine him choosing to do, I can imagine him wanting to study science, or math, or something else at a high level, at a relatively early age, and I think that if he wanted to do that his lack of writing skills could potentially close doors for him.  So, while I don't need the gap to close entirely, I think it might be helpful for it to close somewhat.  

3) I believe that kids do well with some kind of creative outlet.  My oldest kid loves music.  He plays in the school band, and sings in the church choir, and acts, sings, and dances in school musicals.  My youngest kid loves to build.  He loves art class at school, particularly sculpture, he spends hours with his legos, and helping his grandfather in his woodshop.  He is so excited that he's finally fourth grader so he can help build the sets for the school play.   My middle kid can't really access any of those things right now.  But given his love of words and stories and books, I think writing could potentially be a great creative outlet for him.  However, in order to do that, he needs to start.  I don't want to try and predict what part of writing he's going to want to do, but would rather just expose him to a variety of different things, and let him discover what he likes.  

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6 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Have you tried with a headset with microphone? My dd uses earbuds with a microphone. They isolate pretty well. 

 


He has a tracheostomy, and so his breathing is very loud, and his voice is very soft, and kind of stops and starts.  My guess is that those things, plus the background noise, would be too much for a microphone, but we haven't actually tried it in a noisy setting.  

In addition, his P.T. has a theory that we can think about each part of a task as red (hard), yellow (in the middle), or green (easy), and that you need to be careful not to overload kids on red and yellow.  So, for example, my kid can sit in a regular chair, or on a regular couch, but that's kind of hard and it takes concentration. It's probably yellow or orange.  So, it's fine when he's reading or listening to a book, or watching a video, or playing chess or doing something else that's green.   But when it's mealtime, and we're also asking him to use utensils (red), and coordinate breathing and eating (red), and participate in family life (red), then the regular chair is too much.  So, we use an adaptive chair that's got more supports built in. 

My guess is that using the microphone will be hard but not impossible for him.  I think he'll be able to figure it out.  But I expect it will be a red task for a while, and will involve a lot of stopping, going back, and trying again.  A medical waiting room, or a soccer field are both pretty anxiety provoking places for him, so that's another red thing.  Working one on one with a parent can be challenging because it's relatively new.  Positioning isn't going to be great.  So, that's lots of "red" things at once, and my guess is he wouldn't have a lot of availability for instruction.  

On the other hand, if we introduce the microphone in the context of math, where the content is easy, he's working with a tutor so there isn't the same intense dynamic, he can be seated in just the right chair and put the tablet on a table rather than having to hold it, all those things would make it easier.  And then he can concentrate on the microphone for short bits of time, maybe choosing a few answers to use it for or something like that. 

Now, you're probably wondering why I don't just move writing instruction to home, and do it one on one at the table, but something else would have to give to make that happen, and I feel like there are other higher priority things.  I'd love for him to do some writing, but it comes pretty far down the list of priorities. 

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1 hour ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

something else at a high level, at a relatively early age, and I think that if he wanted to do that his lack of writing skills could potentially close doors for him. 

If I could suggest, one piece of that is learning the language of how people who write about his topics of interest write. So he needs to be reading lots of well-written science literature. Not textbooks (not exclusively) but trade literature, things written by excellent writers. Even some picture books on science are exceptionally well-written. 

Here's a pdf on types of non-fiction. I came across Melissa Stewart on a FB group. She has a number of wonderful books. You're correct that his narrative language is *not* the same as expository. So seeing examples of how excellent writers do it is the way to fill his head with that language.

https://www.melissa-stewart.com/img2018/pdfs/5_Kinds_of_Nonfiction_SLJ_May_2018.pdf

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1 hour ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

My middle kid can't really access any of those things right now.  But given his love of words and stories and books, I think writing could potentially be a great creative outlet for him.  However, in order to do that, he needs to start.  I don't want to try and predict what part of writing he's going to want to do, but would rather just expose him to a variety of different things, and let him discover what he likes.  

I LOVE this. That's what I was talking about with emotional outlets and mental health. And it might be he's not quite there either. I think you're right on to try things and just see. Writing was hard for my dd for many years, very hard, and when it clicked it really clicked. So like you say, you never know. 

Some boys really like poetry or speeches. Has he ever memorized speeches or done anything with memory work? It would be another something he could do in-between appts, working on his memory work. IEW has a charming poetry memorization program. Anything that appealed to you or him would work. One year I took poetry from a science nature handbook to go with the season. Wow that goes way back, lol. https://www.rainbowresource.com/product/sku/014298

Have you seen the Creative Writer series? https://welltrainedmind.com/c/language-arts/writing/creative/

                                            Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry: How to Write a Poem                                       another good one.

You could alternate weeks or units with the Creative Writer and an expository series. She says to alternate it with WWS. If you think he's at that level, fine by all means. It would be pretty rare, and frankly I think that sounds stressful given his load. 

Edited by PeterPan

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49 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

In addition, his P.T. has a theory that we can think about each part of a task as red (hard), yellow (in the middle), or green (easy), and that you need to be careful not to overload kids on red and yellow. 

That's a useful explanation!!! That would make sense for a lot of us here and especially for you, wow. Thanks for sharing! 

It sounds like you have a really good team.

51 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

And then he can concentrate on the microphone for short bits of time, maybe choosing a few answers to use it for or something like that. 

You know, I totally support your idea that writing (or anything) is not necessarily the most important thing. Definitely stand strong on your take on that. That's something I've learned in all this, not to doubt myself and my assessment. You know his situation pretty thoroughly, so if you think that's what is best, then that's what is best.

Ok, so then a question. What would it take to get writing GREEN for him? I don't know. I clearly don't know his whole medical presentation, so maybe your PT could guide you? What about eye gaze? There's even new tech where they're reading thoughts through skin impulses or something. Stuff is coming. If a method is stressful, maybe keep looking for another option? 

Total, total aside, but one thing I'm planning to do with my ds is sentence strip composition. https://elementaryenglishlanguagelearners.weebly.com/blog/authentic-shared-revising-editing  So you could take a model that is engaging to him (science article from Muse magazine, whatever) and dissect it into strips and then rebuild it, talking about the structure, using that structure to outline and do a retelling or riff and make your own on a different topic...

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22 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

That's a useful explanation!!! That would make sense for a lot of us here and especially for you, wow. Thanks for sharing! 

It sounds like you have a really good team.

You know, I totally support your idea that writing (or anything) is not necessarily the most important thing. Definitely stand strong on your take on that. That's something I've learned in all this, not to doubt myself and my assessment. You know his situation pretty thoroughly, so if you think that's what is best, then that's what is best.

Ok, so then a question. What would it take to get writing GREEN for him? I don't know. I clearly don't know his whole medical presentation, so maybe your PT could guide you? What about eye gaze? There's even new tech where they're reading thoughts through skin impulses or something. Stuff is coming. If a method is stressful, maybe keep looking for another option? 

Total, total aside, but one thing I'm planning to do with my ds is sentence strip composition. https://elementaryenglishlanguagelearners.weebly.com/blog/authentic-shared-revising-editing  So you could take a model that is engaging to him (science article from Muse magazine, whatever) and dissect it into strips and then rebuild it, talking about the structure, using that structure to outline and do a retelling or riff and make your own on a different topic...


When I watch him with his math tutor, who is amazing with him, the tutor basically takes over every single piece except the thinking, and some of the talking.  So, my son's not writing or typing, but he's also not holding the book or turning the pages.  And he's free to shift his position to what works for him.  So, if he wants to put his head on the table, which means he can't see the book, then the tutor reads aloud.  If he needs to catch his breath, he can point or nod or shake his head instead of talking.  If he's barely whispering, then the tutor can pull in close and listen more carefully.  If he needs a break from responding, the tutor can do the work of navigating the computer to find a related Khan academy video, or can work through the next problem as a model, or whatever.  With that level of support, and given that it's the thing he loves, he can keep going for two hours straight.   But if you put him in a regular math class.  Even if it was a regular fourth grade math class so the math was super easy, but if he had to type or voice type his own answers, and show his work, and sit in a regular chair and hold his own book.  He'd last minutes.  

One of the reasons why the math sessions work well is that the content is green for the tutor.  Teaching math to gifted kids is all that the tutor does, and he's using a textbook he's familiar with and teaching content that he knows like the back of his hand.  So, while my kid is entirely unlike the rest of his kids, and in that sense it's red for the tutor, the tutor can focus on reading my son's cues and problem solving, because the math piece isn't filling up his brain. 

So, having written that, I think for writing to be easy, he would need is that same partner dynamic, where he's doing the thinking and someone else is doing everything else.  Which would mean dictating 100% of the time to a human (me), and not a piece of technology.   But he also needs the content to be very easy for me, so that I can focus on him.  Teaching is new to me.  It's not like I'm a homeschool parent who eased into this with a Kindergartener.  I kind of jumped into the deep end.  Plus, I'm still figuring out how to be a parent to 3 kids instead of 2 and all the medical complexities, so my brain is full of other things.  So, I feel like what I need is one really straight forward resource that basically leads me through it step to step.  

Eyegaze, as an aside, is really exhausting.  We haven't tried it, but that's what I hear over and over again.  

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Can you hire that guy to do more with your ds? He sounds PHENOMENAL!!

39 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

Eyegaze, as an aside, is really exhausting.  We haven't tried it, but that's what I hear over and over again.  

Bummer.

39 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

So, having written that, I think for writing to be easy, he would need is that same partner dynamic, where he's doing the thinking and someone else is doing everything else.  Which would mean dictating 100% of the time to a human (me), and not a piece of technology.   But he also needs the content to be very easy for me, so that I can focus on him. 

That's some really good analysis. And really, that could be that tutor guy, you, anyone. So can you get the school district to pay for homebound and pay for this guy to tutor?

41 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

Teaching is new to me.  It's not like I'm a homeschool parent who eased into this with a Kindergartener.  I kind of jumped into the deep end.  Plus, I'm still figuring out how to be a parent to 3 kids instead of 2 and all the medical complexities, so my brain is full of other things.  So, I feel like what I need is one really straight forward resource that basically leads me through it step to step.  

Definitely you jumped into the deep end!! Cathy Duffy says consider your makes "payment in the School of Home Ed" LOL So you'll make some, but I think start small, just trying some things. A workbook, something you can get from the library, one IEW themed book. 

You could see if anything by Michael Gravois calls to you. The books are age-appropriate and have *shorter* amounts of writing that you could customize to his interests while having structure.  https://www.amazon.com/s?k=michael+gravois&ref=nb_sb_noss

Roll with what calls to you. If you're feeling it, you'll probably be able to make it happen.

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1 hour ago, PeterPan said:

 

Have you seen the Creative Writer series? https://welltrainedmind.com/c/language-arts/writing/creative/

You could alternate weeks or units with the Creative Writer and an expository series. She says to alternate it with WWS. If you think he's at that level, fine by all means. It would be pretty rare, and frankly I think that sounds stressful given his load. 

 

I think of the things you've posted this is the best fit so far, partially because it's got a lot of reading about writing, which plays to his strength, and partially because the content looks fun.  And it looks like something we could do as something we could do together, rather than something which I make him do, or something he does and I check.  

I looked up WWS, and while think that while he could probably do WWS under the right circumstances, it's too much with everything else he's got on his plate and combining it with creative writing would definitely be too much.  Also, a 600 page teacher manual is intimidating to me.  He's 9, so if he waits a year to do expository writing, he'll be fine.  

I also think that he's going to have an issue with any text that uses lots of excerpts.  Because he's going to find it frustrating not to be able to read the whole book.  

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3 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Can you hire that guy to do more with your ds? He sounds PHENOMENAL!!

Bummer.

That's some really good analysis. And really, that could be that tutor guy, you, anyone. So can you get the school district to pay for homebound and pay for this guy to tutor?

Definitely you jumped into the deep end!! Cathy Duffy says consider your makes "payment in the School of Home Ed" LOL So you'll make some, but I think start small, just trying some things. A workbook, something you can get from the library, one IEW themed book. 

You could see if anything by Michael Gravois calls to you. The books are age-appropriate and have *shorter* amounts of writing that you could customize to his interests while having structure.  https://www.amazon.com/s?k=michael+gravois&ref=nb_sb_noss

Roll with what calls to you. If you're feeling it, you'll probably be able to make it happen.


So, the tutor is amazing!  He's an amazing mathematician, and he's amazing with the kid.  Technically, I pay him for 3 hour long sessions a week.  He's never left after an hour,.  Usually he's here for a couple hours of math, and stays for dinner, and then plays a couple games of chess, and then he apologize for running over and charges me for an hour.  He'll also do things like drive to a hospital and tutor there, or tutor by Skype, or whatever works.  But he's a math guy.  He might do something that's math adjacent, like physics, or chess, but he's not going to teach poetry.  And my kid loves every minute of it.  He'd be horrified if I tried to change any of that time into something else.  

Homebound was pretty much a disaster for us.   There is a huge shortage of homebound teachers in our area, and so it took them some time to get started, and then every time kid is hospitalized they reassign kid to the hospital teachers and move the teacher to a new student, so then we'd come back and then there's be a new person with super low expectations who would gradually figure out my kid and then we'd be back in the hospital.   In the end, he probably did 2 assignments per subject, that they graded and based on that he passed 5th grade with straight A's. 

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Well I was hoping for some kind of compromise from them on the homebound. Our state has disability scholarships, so here you'd take the funding and hire it all privately. 

It sounds like this tutor is a real bright spot in your ds' day! Wonderful!

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12 hours ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

In addition, his P.T. has a theory that we can think about each part of a task as red (hard), yellow (in the middle), or green (easy), and that you need to be careful not to overload kids on red and yellow. 

I really like this theory. Thanks for sharing!

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2 hours ago, Mainer said:

I really like this theory. Thanks for sharing!

 

I think that for my kid, it might be one of the two best best pieces of advice we’ve gotten.  

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11 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Well I was hoping for some kind of compromise from them on the homebound. Our state has disability scholarships, so here you'd take the funding and hire it all privately. 

It sounds like this tutor is a real bright spot in your ds' day! Wonderful!

 

We found him by accident.  At that point I was still holding on to the idea that he would be in school this coming year so I wasn’t looking for tutoring.  I think every day what a lucky accident that was.

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32 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

 

We found him by accident.  

Doesn’t sound like an accident to me! My friend calls that a God-incident. 😁

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OP, I just skimmed, but you might check out your state's version of vocational rehabilitation. They work primarily with adults, but they do stuff for kids too. It's like the physical equivalent of getting qualified for the board of developmental disabilities, but it's for physical stuff, not cognitive. 

I have a relative that is able to work because her state's board of voc rehab has worked extensively with her. Locally, a friend's daughter has had special glasses paid for by the voc rehab people. 

This truly sounds like their wheelhouse, and it won't hurt to ask. 

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5 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Doesn’t sound like an accident to me! My friend calls that a God-incident. 😁

 

I am a pretty religious person, and over the past 8 months since he started transitioning into our family, I have leaned hard on both my Catholic faith, and my church community.  So, please understand that that's where I'm coming from, when I say that right now I can't believe in a God who chooses to intervene in that way in children's lives.

I am the mother of 2 nine year olds, born only a few months and a few miles apart.  Both boys are, I believe, made in the image of God.  Both are equally precious in His sight.  And yet only one of them has enjoyed the childhood they both deserve.  My youngest son, who was born to me, has had parents there for him every moment of the his life.  His days are full of happy things like school, and friends, and soccer games.  His heart, and lungs, and joints all work smoothly and consistently and without pain and allow him to do fantastic things like climbing trees and riding bikes.  His idea of being hungry is the feeling that makes you stop for a picnic in the middle of a long bike ride.  His idea of trauma is the time he fell out of a tree and sprained his wrist.  His fears are normal childhood fears like flu shots and bumblebees.  

My middle son is just as wonderful, and precious, and deserving as his brother, and yet his life has been entirely different. However, in the midst of a childhood that has been full of pain, and trauma, and terror, and loss, there have been a few good things.  This winter, a medical trial saved his life.  My husband and I found him.  He got a great tutor.  And while those things are great things, they're also things he only needed because of all the things that were going wrong.  Don't get me wrong, I love his tutor. I am so glad that he has his tutor.  But I can't see the hand of God in him arriving on our doorstep, without wondering where the hand of God was so many other times when he desperately needed it.  Why would he get these few limited miracles, when his brothers' lives seem to be one continuous miracle?  So, instead, I choose to believe that God has created this wonderful amazing world, that contains wonderful things like all of my kids, and like the tutor, but that He also, for mysterious reasons that will one day be clear to us, chooses not to intervene on a day to day basis, and that good and bad things come to us by luck.  Because the idea that He's choosing some people or some moments to intervene would mean that He didn't choose to intervene for my son far too many times.  

Sorry, I don't want this to be harsh.  I may go back and erase it, because it has nothing to do with the topic at hand, but this is something I have spent a lot of time thinking and praying about, and I felt like I needed to respond for my own reasons.  

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10 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

I have spent a lot of time thinking and praying about, and I felt like I needed to respond for my own reasons.  

It's good that you're getting it out, and what you're feeling makes so much sense. Have you talked with your (officials in the Catholic church) or someone else about it? Have you ever looked into Joni & Friends? Joni Erickson Tada has written a lot on suffering and grappling with the pointlessness or unfairness and where God was. But it makes sense that it's really hard for you to watch. The contrast is stark. 

Has he had therapy for the trauma? A number of us here on the board experienced trauma (childhood or other circumstances), so that's something you can talk too if you need to.

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9 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

It's good that you're getting it out, and what you're feeling makes so much sense. Have you talked with your (officials in the Catholic church) or someone else about it? Have you ever looked into Joni & Friends? Joni Erickson Tada has written a lot on suffering and grappling with the pointlessness or unfairness and where God was. But it makes sense that it's really hard for you to watch. The contrast is stark. 

Has he had therapy for the trauma? A number of us here on the board experienced trauma (childhood or other circumstances), so that's something you can talk too if you need to.

 

Thank you for being understanding.  

We've gotten a lot of support from both our parish priest,  and that's been really helpful as my husband and I try and make sense of it all.  My son also loves chaplains.  He's spent an enormous amount of time in hospitals, and until recently much of it was without any family present, so he learned pretty early that chaplains are the very best people to know.  He identifies as Catholic, and did before he joined our family, but he doesn't care what faith a chaplain practices.  They can be a priest, or a minister, or a rabbi, or an iman or any other kind of faith leader and he'll be delighted to meet them, and talk to them as long as they'll let him.  So, the result is that I get to spend a lot of time with chaplains too, which has been helpful.  

I will definitely look into the Joni & Friends materials!  Thank you for the recommendation. 

He's in pretty intensive trauma therapy.  I imagine that he will be in therapy indefinitely.  Partially because there is so much in his past, but also because while some things have improved for him (e.g. he's got parents, and consistent meals, and medical care, and nobody is abusing him), the medical trauma continues.

 

  

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4 hours ago, kbutton said:

OP, I just skimmed, but you might check out your state's version of vocational rehabilitation. They work primarily with adults, but they do stuff for kids too. It's like the physical equivalent of getting qualified for the board of developmental disabilities, but it's for physical stuff, not cognitive. 

I have a relative that is able to work because her state's board of voc rehab has worked extensively with her. Locally, a friend's daughter has had special glasses paid for by the voc rehab people. 

This truly sounds like their wheelhouse, and it won't hurt to ask. 

 

Thank you!  That's a great idea for down the road.   At this point, I can't add another outside person/group/organization.  

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I can relate a bit. I had a situation in adulthood that makes using my hands very difficult. Apple siri may be the answer. an apple pencil might be worth looking into. Bravewriter pen might also record things. I like the apple  myscript because it converts even the messiest letters to correct text and the apple dictation software is supperior . I also like the app notes plus it makes it very easy to create notebooks for each subject. 

Where I have ran into problems is math. that is where writing requires some manuevering. With my son I used numbers on a cookie tray. 

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I would not choose WWS in your situation. (And I say this, having used WWE and WWS with my oldest.)

My next in line has some learning issues, and I scribe for him a good chunk of the time.  It's totally ok to scribe.  Good writing is about good thinking.

I would start with something short, easy, and enjoyable.  Get a good sense this semester of where he's at, and how much time/energy you can realistically devote to writing in a week.  I'd look at either Spectrum Reading or Spectrum Writing.  It's inexpensive, it's workbook style, the pieces are high interest, and you can really look at how well he is thinking and begin to work on dragging that out.... The Reading and Writing workbooks are surprisingly not very different.  If he is highly gifted, you might go a book or two above his level....there are a number of free samples out there to kind of gauge what you should buy. If he's doing two paragraphs well, stretch to more of an essay with the questions at the end.

While you are going through this semester, take a peak at IEW.  I would think more seriously about WWS in a few years, not right now.

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7 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

I would not choose WWS in your situation. (And I say this, having used WWE and WWS with my oldest.)

I agree.  I looked at both, and I don't think either is a fit, at least not right now.  

7 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

My next in line has some learning issues, and I scribe for him a good chunk of the time.  It's totally ok to scribe.  Good writing is about good thinking.

I would start with something short, easy, and enjoyable.  

Yes, I think that's what I need.  Short, easy, and fun.  I'd also love something that is on the iPad so he can reread independently, and we can pull it out if a block of time opens up unexpectedly when we're out and about.  Also, when we're ready for him to use voice to text, we won't have to switch materials. 

Right now, I have this in my shopping cart: https://welltrainedmind.com/p/creative-writer-level-one/  I think @PeterPan suggested it. 

I figure since he loves fiction, maybe writing fiction will be something engages him, and it's available on PDF.  And the fiction unit is short, so we can do that and then if it doesn't work move on to something else.  

7 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

Get a good sense this semester of where he's at, and how much time/energy you can realistically devote to writing in a week.  I'd look at either Spectrum Reading or Spectrum Writing.  It's inexpensive, it's workbook style, the pieces are high interest, and you can really look at how well he is thinking and begin to work on dragging that out.... The Reading and Writing workbooks are surprisingly not very different.

Thanks!  I will definitely check that out, either after the fiction, or if the fiction flops. 

Right now, I think we just need to start with establishing a rhythm of him talking and me writing stuff down. I think that many people find writing intimidating, and writing with a scribe can be both less intimidating because you don't have to worry about spelling or punctuation, ad more intimidating because you've got an audience for your rough draft.  On the other hand, his verbal skills are a strength, both relative to his motor skills, and to his same age peers.  So, I just don't know which way it will go.  He uses a scribe well for math, but in math he pretty much knows that the answer he gives is correct, whereas writing is more open ended.  So, we'll see.  At some point I'll probably be back asking for something else!

7 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

 

 If he is highly gifted, you might go a book or two above his level....there are a number of free samples out there to kind of gauge what you should buy. If he's doing two paragraphs well, stretch to more of an essay with the questions at the end.

While you are going through this semester, take a peak at IEW.  I would think more seriously about WWS in a few years, not right now.


I'll check out IEW.  I looked at it briefly, and for right now, I think it's too much.  I also wouldn't have a clue where to place him.  

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2 hours ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

Right now, I have this in my shopping cart: https://welltrainedmind.com/p/creative-writer-level-one/  I think @PeterPan suggested it. 

 I figure since he loves fiction, maybe writing fiction will be something engages him, and it's available on PDF.  And the fiction unit is short, so we can do that and then if it doesn't work move on to something else.  

Haha, invoke PeterPan and hope for the best, lol. Have you seen this?          A Crow Doesn't Need A Shadow: A Guide to Writing Poetry from Nature       Someone mentioned it around here and I just ordered it. Poetry can give voice to feelings for boys, and maybe your ds has a lot of feelings or has that side to him, kwim? If you need shorter than Creative Writer, poetry could work. I'm wanting it to work on original language with my ds, since he still scripts and is pretty tight. It's not constant anymore, but I think it will bring good things out to organize his brain around function and creativity. 

I like to *think* he's a budding writer inside, even though you wouldn't really think it from his labels and presentation, lol. We'll see. But sometimes I'm just looking for something that seems interesting or engaging to *me*, lol. I've been at this a long time, so if I'm having fun it's gonna go better. Like today for word level writer's workshop we're going to make lists of words for sounds (hopefully verbs like buzzing, scraping, etc.) and textures. Maybe I should stick with verbs? Anyways, word level language work to feed into the creative writing. 

I'm just gabbing. I think anything you do will be great. It's a little different in homeschooling than regular school because you're only dealing with one, meaning a flop is more obvious. But it's ok to try something and realize it wasn't the right time. 

                                            Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry: How to Write a Poem                                       Here's another poetry option people on the boards have liked. 

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3 hours ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

I'll check out IEW.  I looked at it briefly, and for right now, I think it's too much.  I also wouldn't have a clue where to place him.  

Oh really? Then in all seriousness,  would start with some basics, like eliciting narratives. And maybe just riff on narratives a bit (adding dialogue, changing tense, telling about your day, telling about the moving you saw) and expanding that to expository (basic action sequences and description) to make sure those are in place. You don't want to frustrate him. It can all be oral. 

As long as narratives and basic expository are in place, you can do anything you want and be fine. But it can be conversations, just a check.

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12 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Oh really? Then in all seriousness,  would start with some basics, like eliciting narratives. And maybe just riff on narratives a bit (adding dialogue, changing tense, telling about your day, telling about the moving you saw) and expanding that to expository (basic action sequences and description) to make sure those are in place. You don't want to frustrate him. It can all be oral. 

As long as narratives and basic expository are in place, you can do anything you want and be fine. But it can be conversations, just a check.


He's super verbal.  For example, if we're listening to a novel together, and I need to step away, when I come back he can retell the chapter I missed.  Or he can give his brother detailed specific directions to build something with legos.  For both of those things, I'd say he's far beyond my youngest, who is 7 months younger and has typical language, and probably beyond my oldest who is 2.5 years older.   He's definitely not a kid with a language disorder. He has pretty significant issues with stamina, prosody, and voice, but not with expressive or receptive language. 

But we haven't done anything more formal than that.  Other than math, and things like "tell me what you want me to write on this birthday card to Grandpa", we haven't written down his words so that he can see them (I've written down many of the memories he's shared with me because I want him to have them later, but he doesn't know that).  And that means we haven't touched structures like poems or essays or other forms that are usually only written.  We also haven't done anything with more than one step.  So, no planning or editing or revising, which he'd be doing in school by this age. 

But, the biggest issue, is that I don't know how writing things down will impact the anxiety.  It could be that it doesn't at all, and he's as happy to dictate as he is to talk, in which case we'll probably either move to materials written above grade level, or just do interest led things without materials at all.   Or it could be that it adds a lot of anxiety and we will need things with baby steps and lots of structure.  

I figure story telling is a good place to start, because we can co-create.  He can dictate the whole thing, or I can dictate most of it, and he can contribute a line or two.  

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38 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Haha, invoke PeterPan and hope for the best, lol. Have you seen this?          A Crow Doesn't Need A Shadow: A Guide to Writing Poetry from Nature       Someone mentioned it around here and I just ordered it. Poetry can give voice to feelings for boys, and maybe your ds has a lot of feelings or has that side to him, kwim? If you need shorter than Creative Writer, poetry could work. I'm wanting it to work on original language with my ds, since he still scripts and is pretty tight. It's not constant anymore, but I think it will bring good things out to organize his brain around function and creativity. 

I like to *think* he's a budding writer inside, even though you wouldn't really think it from his labels and presentation, lol. We'll see. But sometimes I'm just looking for something that seems interesting or engaging to *me*, lol. I've been at this a long time, so if I'm having fun it's gonna go better. Like today for word level writer's workshop we're going to make lists of words for sounds (hopefully verbs like buzzing, scraping, etc.) and textures. Maybe I should stick with verbs? Anyways, word level language work to feed into the creative writing. 

I'm just gabbing. I think anything you do will be great. It's a little different in homeschooling than regular school because you're only dealing with one, meaning a flop is more obvious. But it's ok to try something and realize it wasn't the right time. 

                                            Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry: How to Write a Poem                                       Here's another poetry option people on the boards have liked. 


I love writing poetry with kids.  I think it's probably too open ended to start with for him.  I feel like some kids love it, and some kids find it anxiety provoking, and given that anxiety is a huge issue for us, I want to start with something a little more structured.  But if fiction goes well (the fiction section of Creating Writing isn't very long), then poetry might be next, so I'll keep those resources.  

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1 hour ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

And that means we haven't touched structures like poems or essays or other forms that are usually only written.  We also haven't done anything with more than one step.  So, no planning or editing or revising, which he'd be doing in school by this age. 

Did you say he likes science? Maybe he'd like Muse magazine? Someone turned me onto it years ago for dd, and around that age I'd have her outline the articles. They're on my target list for ds this year. I still remember this hilarious moment when dd is like *hold it, they just restated the article at the end of the article!" LOL Click, lightbulb moment for the ADHD, lol.

 

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1 hour ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

we can co-create.

I'll be interested to hear how this goes! It's right now, but I'm just interested to hear how he responds to it emotionally. I'm always thinking about joint attention with ds, ways to do things together.

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If you end up needing baby steps and lots of structure, then I would absolutely point you towards IEW.  We used it with my above highly anxious, highly dysgraphic, highly gifted son. Look specifically at SWI-A. It's something that you can easily work together on doing---there's a model, you interpret the task together, and it has very specific directions on how to complete the task. It's also open ended enough that if you need to hang out for a while on a given topic, you can bring different high interest pieces in and use those to work through the material.

But, I still stand by my start with a Spectrum workbook first.  We did hospital schooling on and off for years, and it's slim enough to easily fit into a backpack and open and go that you can stop and start as you need to.

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1 hour ago, prairiewindmomma said:

If you end up needing baby steps and lots of structure, then I would absolutely point you towards IEW.  We used it with my above highly anxious, highly dysgraphic, highly gifted son. Look specifically at SWI-A. It's something that you can easily work together on doing---there's a model, you interpret the task together, and it has very specific directions on how to complete the task. It's also open ended enough that if you need to hang out for a while on a given topic, you can bring different high interest pieces in and use those to work through the material.

But, I still stand by my start with a Spectrum workbook first.  We did hospital schooling on and off for years, and it's slim enough to easily fit into a backpack and open and go that you can stop and start as you need to.


You've clearly BTDT, because we need that super simple portable combination.  My kid does better with things on an iPad, but it sounds like Spectrum is something I could easily scan into a PDF.  Plus, the iPad goes everywhere with us, so that means that if there's a sudden change of plans and we need something familiar and distracting and organizing, the workbook is always there.  

One reason I chose the book I chose is because it's the same, no separate teacher's manual or notebook, we'll be able to type directly onto the PDF in Notability.  I assume we'll need the same thing after it so Spectrum might be perfect.  

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5 hours ago, PeterPan said:

I'll be interested to hear how this goes! It's right now, but I'm just interested to hear how he responds to it emotionally. I'm always thinking about joint attention with ds, ways to do things together.


Whether or not I do it with him, I love co-creating stories with kids.  It's one of my favorite literacy activities, and great for building joint attention, stamina, and engagement around reading and writing.  

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5 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Did you say he likes science? Maybe he'd like Muse magazine? Someone turned me onto it years ago for dd, and around that age I'd have her outline the articles. They're on my target list for ds this year. I still remember this hilarious moment when dd is like *hold it, they just restated the article at the end of the article!" LOL Click, lightbulb moment for the ADHD, lol.

 


I think he might really like that.  It looks like there's a digital version, which could work for him.

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Got your ping...I only have a few minutes because we spent the morning in a doctor's office...so you're getting my random thoughts:

1. Depending on what your state rules are re: homeschooling (ie required hours, etc.) you may have more flexibility staying in the public school system and doing a home study program with an IEP. I'm not talking about the charter programs out there--but the specialty programs most school districts have for medically complex kids. The other advantage of this is that some states require public school enrollment to access their equipment bank, but you can get a lot of high end equipment that insurance won't cover.  In our previous state, almost all pediatric services for the deaf and blind ran through schools, and our insurance had a ton of hoops to get a dynavox and some of that other stuff--way easier to get it through schools. I just have a minute, but if you want to talk more about this pm me. I think there are a few others on this board who have done similar things, but not many.

2. Our goal has been education rather than life skills/bonding/etc. given the particular needs of our children. Between my 5 kids, the two with the most medical issues have also been gifted. Not just bright, gifted. I'm making this distinction specifically because being gifted is a blessing and a curse. (curse---the challenges that come with the emotional intensity of gifted children is not to be minimized.)  If you are dealing with a kid who is gifted (and it sounds like he is) you cannot put school on hold. You've got to feed that brain and engage that curiosity or, IME, there are repercussions. Find that thing that makes your kid's eyes light up and make sure that happens on a regular basis. In your case, keep the math tutor. Make that every bit as important as a therapy appointment, because it is therapy, iykwim. With my average or bright kids who are healthy, it's not a big deal if school happens irregularly.  For my gifted ones, they've needed a lot of structure and consistency and they've needed school time. Does this make sense? It's been a very different dynamics in contrast to, say, Maria Montessori's  "Play is the work of children" notion.  For my non-gifted kids, spending time doing science experiments or an art project or building a Roman aqueduct with clay was this bonding moment. My gifted kids just kinda eyeroll me on that. As much as possible, and I know it's hard, try to find a routine and keep to it.  We did M, W, F hospital days and T, R were for at home. We also tried to find facilities where we could knock it all out at once--I found a combined SLP/OT/PT practice close to the pediatric hospital and it was worth it. 

3. Embrace the reality that you're in.  For my kid that's severely dysgraphic, there's just no point in belaboring handwriting beyond a functional signature. Likewise, if you're looking at the big picture of what gets you from where you are at currently to what he needs to graduate---prioritize. Math up through Algebra 2 (ideally, calculus) and the ability to write/organize/dictate a coherent essay are probably the most important things. If he's going to have an independent life, those two things will nail standardized testing and get you college ready.  I think sometimes homeschoolers get caught up on content (19th century british writers! history in 400AD! the kreb cycle!) and neglect skill.  You are working under so many other constraints that you must operate with a surgeon's scalpel rather than a blunt hammer!

4. Utilize audio whenever you can.

History: I recommend Story of the World for history (even though book 1 is aimed at 1st graders, we have---all of us---listened to it in our vehicles multiple times and enjoyed it. We kind of roll our eyes in the first few chapters of book 1, but only there).  I would say the 4 books can be comfortably used through 8th grade.  We've used her adult series for high school with our oldest. We started with CDs back in ye olden days, but they are available through Audible. If you can get the school district to hook you up with Bookshare (qualifying physical disability--or you can do this independently--we did), they are there also.

Science: watch Nature and Nova. These are easily downloadable. (Look into PBS passport!) I also put 2-3 books on hold each week, and tucked them into the book bag. There are a number of good science magazines also.... I think I saw somewhere else on the boards that he's hanging out in an infusion lab. I'd preload content onto an iPad and hand it over. Bill Nye the Science Guy, Kratt Brothers, Blue Planet, whatever he finds engaging.

Math: Christian Light Education and Singapore Math Primary Series are both slender and tuck easily into a backpack and require no manipulatives. 

Language Arts: We did grammar and writing together, usually with me scribing, and then the stack of books method for reading.  If holding a book is hard, go to audiobooks. I was very picky about what books we read. I usually allowed one popular fluff book (like the Percy Jackson series) and we had two non-fluff books. I gleaned those titles from the Story of the World Activity guide, the Moving Beyond the Page catalog, the classics list, or from non-fiction titles in the science section of the library. Ds was able to find nearly everything he needed on audio. For grammar, I'd look at Exercises in English. The Spectrum workbooks for reading and writing are decent as well.  

We have watched a ton of PBS shows over the years.  At 9, I don't recommend a ton of Khan Academy lectures or CrashCourse lectures.... I'd aim for things that are going to give him some context, some vocabulary, and that are just interesting. If learning is a place his mind can escape to, lean in, iykwim. 

I'm going to grab the school backpack currently and see what supplies are in it...

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School backpack:

Math reference chart from CLE (that has a built in ruler as well)

pencil bag: pencils, three colors of highlighters, pink eraser, colored pencils, scissors, glue stick, $1 store calculator, 

clipboard, clips (to keep workbooks that have had pages torn out together---totally gave up on binders years ago

planner

schoolbooks

Is he wheelchair bound? Does he have a tray slide for his wheelchair? 

 

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