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Learning Challenges - High School Done Well?

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I'm thinking this through.  DS has been academically challenged - he is severely dyslexic and has impacted working memory.  
It's hard for me to figure out what a credit is because it's not the same degree of difficulty we've previously experienced.  
We're using Saxon at the level he's at and just plugging away.  We should finish 7/6 this year (9th grade) and I'm wondering if we can call it Basic Math I or Functional Math...
I'm hoping sophomore year will be Alg 1/2 and then Alg 1, but not sure how that will go until we get there.

We are still working on Barton and that combined with Sonlight Lit (via both reading and audio) and IEW form a full Lit. credit.
History and Bible - also Sonlight via a split with reading and audio.
Science is a little tricky.  He'll do labs at a homeschool program and I need to think up a plan for Biology.  

Anyone want to add tips, suggestions, BTDT advice for doing high school with learning challenges?

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It’s hard for me to know what adulthood is likely to look like for my kid.  She’s 14 but I honestly have NO idea what is likely to transpire.  Would she be able to drive?  What kind of job can she handle?  Where is she likely to live?  College?  All are hugely open questions.  

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We're trying Master Books new Biology this year. It's the one by Dennis Englin, not the building blocks thing. It seems to be far more engaging than Apologia, lol! But it's a shorter text. If we find it light, we have some Ecology resources to round it out, but the more I look at it, the more it seems to be more rigorous than it looks or its page count suggests. The labs are very do-able but meaningful. 

On math, I don't think there is any way to speed it up--he gets it or doesn't. At some point, I think it's legitimate to keep going and do a lot of heavily scaffolded work if you know he won't go into a field where he'll need advanced math. If he has plans to use math heavily in the future, I would encourage math now that he can do successfully, and if he has to have remedial classes before college, it just is what it is. (If my son opts to go to college, which is not likely, he might need remedial English.)

I would encourage you to look at all pathways to graduation in your state. As a homeschooler, I don't have to follow state standards, but I am trying to have a transcript that is in keeping with state expectations. My son is vocationally minded, so I have a bit of a safety net in that our state has several pathways to a diploma, including gaining workforce points. Since my son is likely to go to the local vo-tech school part-time his last two years, as long as I get the basics of x number of maths, English, history, etc. down, he's truly meeting realistic requirements. It's been a help to be able to look at that in black and white, and it's let me feel more at ease with tailoring the rest.

One thing I am learning to embrace is that as homeschoolers we want to show all kinds of independence and rigor with all of our students, but in the public school, there are a LOT of kids who are being propped up to get through regular classes at school. Kids who might not go to a select college but will enroll in CC or a school that is known to be easier, and they will be fine. 

We don't realize that a student in school might not have been able to complete Assignment A if it hadn't been discussed extensively in class, but at home, we expect our student to do the whole thing independently. Or, we just fail to draw parallels between the support our students need and how they might get it in a school but it would look different. In some cases, we just don't know what it's like because those supports were not available to struggling students when we were in school. We also sometimes don't realize how we're propping up a kid--my son will look like everything is fine if all his work were a Socratic discussion. The problem comes when he doesn't have a conversation partner that is sometimes giving my son the piece of information he's missing while holding up their end of the conversation, lol! A piece he would never comprehend with reading, watching a video, or doing a lab! 

Anyway, I am learning to embrace that life with my older student will continue to look like "we do" a lot longer than it should, and until the end, I can't necessarily put a label on what that means. It's entirely possible that some things will click with therapy, and his "finished" level of work will be solidly average--if at that point, I label half his high school transcript as remedial in some way, I have done him a very big disservice. If at the end of high school, I've given him a glowing transcript, but he doesn't have the skills needed to support it, I have done him a very big disservice. (He's doing some intensive language therapy that is paying off, but there is a long way to go.)

I truly think that we sometimes have to wait until the end to see how it pans out, and I refuse to believe that teaching my son Where He Is At is somehow wrong or not in his best interest. 

I split some of my teaching between independent level and heavily scaffolded exposure (he will never be a lit major, so this is one subject where I am fine with spoon feeding him everything he needs). I find creative but honest ways to help him do grade level work. For instance, while his writing languishes in forming cohesive paragraphs focused on a tight main idea expressed with a generalized introduction and conclusion, he writes some killer sentences, and he can often improve a piece of writing with better phrasing, more complicated sentence structure, etc. In college, as an English/Professional Writing major, I took classes teaching people to do that. So, for now, some of writing time focuses on those skills until paragraph writing catches up.

It took me a while to get to that point, and it's been informed by other people's experiences IRL and on the boards, and it's been informed by people who are utilizing a big variety of schooling options. It took even longer to figure out what that should look like.

To me, the important part is that besides saying what he has done or should be able to do, I can quantify what makes him successful and also know what his independent level is. At the end of the day, I need to truthfully represent what he can do independently in the subjects that will matter for him and know what can be done about the rest. I need to know his independence relative to peers (which are not the kids taking AP or DE). I need to know if he's hands-on right now because he's made that way or because it's easier now by default but his brain might mature to more abstract stuff later. 

My son wants to be a mechanic. He has ASD and ADHD, and his biggest issues are language-based with writing and with narrative language. He's profoundly gifted, so I don't want to cut him off from being able to attend college at some point, even if I know he may have to do some CC. But it's possible that he does the mechanic thing for a while and gets bored or realizes his brain is capable of some stuff it couldn't do in high school--then, I need him to be okay to try college. For him, that means he could pass lit and comp with tutoring, lol! It's not that math and science might not also present a challenge, but those are the most stressful areas. Honestly, I think that mechanic is likely to be the lifelong passion, and I sincerely hope that he's able to find a niche in that field where he can express the profoundly gifted part of his person via some kind of expertise. 

I feel like quantifying where we're at and how to go about it requires a Kenny Rogers warning: "Never count your money when you're sitting at the table; there'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done." In the meantime, I'm trying to keep a written record of what he has done, what resources we've used, what skills we've covered in case we have to change something quickly, etc., and I plan to put off an official transcript as long as possible.

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Can he take an extra year or two to go through high school?  Things may start to come together more with some extra time.

 If I had to name it, and he absolutely could not have extra year or two, I’d call it 9th grade math. 


I think Saxon is really hard with dyslexia because it is very wordy. Would he do better with some other math program?

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Lee Binz has info on transcripts, but you're going to go back to your basics. Count hours, assign carnegie units, not credits=material covered.

So what could happen is you decide to give him another year to bake at the end and that makes it all even out. Yes, I think if you put basic math on the transcript no one is clueless what that means. Some schools will want materials, course summaries, etc. because you're a homeschooler. Reality is they'll have his ACT scores (if he applies somewhere) and it will be obvious.

I'm with Curious that "done well" could equal anything from ready to go to college to has the character and life skills to tackle the next step to whatever. You probably have some overall content goals (well-rounded person, Bible knowledge, whatever), and you probably have some goals for him as a person. Looking back with the dab of hindsight I have, I think those goals for him as a person (diligence, sticking to things, etc.) are pretty valuable.

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On the extra year thing--does he have an IEP? Students with an IEP are entitled to stay in school until age 22. If he is at all interested in vocational options near you, it's possible that he could transfer late in the game with that extended time. For instance, I know a young man that didn't have academic issues, but he had social/life skills issues. He completed a vocational program, but at the traditional graduation age, it was decided that he didn't have the soft skills to realistically work in that field. The school and parents agreed that he should try a different vocational program, so he stayed. In his case, he walked at graduation but didn't accept his diploma until later. 

If he had gone back to the vo-tech school to get that training after graduation, it would've been expensive.

If your son has not completed the traditional math sequence by graduation, he would have a strong case for delaying graduation and getting into a vocational program later than is typical, I would think. 

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  • 2 months later...

I have a daughter with some similar challenges.  We tried to look at what she was good at/ interested in/ as well as meeting the high school curriculum we wanted.  It may depend on your state as ours is pretty hands off.

Our electives were designed around something she was interested in but in the back of my head I was thinking ..could this be something she might like to do for a career?   For example for our daughter, she was pretty good with spatial skills and is a creative thinker.  She took animation and art and thought she might be headed to a career in animation, visual effects, visual design or something.  If she liked video games, I might look into spatial science (GIS) with drone flying, or something to do with the construction of  video games (coding, ect).  Instead she is focusing on wanting to spend her day with people , not computers, and is using her visual spatial skills in anatomy.

  So for academics, Math is kind of a sticky point for us as well.    Maybe when your son is ready he can try Algebra through ALEKS?   Our severely dyslexic daughter  daughter is 17 ( Bartons completed through level 8 , whew) , and she is working her way slowly  through College Algebra in ALEKS.  it is a course through Arizona State University earned admission https://ea.asu.edu/courses  .  Essentially you pay $25 for a  year of ALEKS and when the student completes it with the grade you want , you  accept the credit and pay $400 for a 3 credit college Algebra class.  We are not at the end of this course yet, but she can reenroll if it takes more than a year, so this could be a two year course .  This might be a good option if math ends up being the biggest obstacle to a four year school as some regional schools only require college algebra.  There are other courses as well, but math is something we hope to have done before graduation.   These courses have no downside really.  I am also in the camp of giving 1 high school credit if a class earns  3 credit college credit so that rounds  off the high school transcript nicely.    We also  liked video /project based classes.  Science for her was Earth Science, Biology (Fundafunda), Human Anatomy and Physiology and will do CC Human Anatomy and Physiology.  Biology was just better for her as she could visualize and found it interesting.  

Sign language worked great for a foreign language and she quite enjoys it as the grammar is different/ makes more sense to her.   Videos work well for history ect,  but she gets a little passive.

If he ends up interested in something that requires a four year degree, then I think transferring can work really well if he wants to avoid ACT/SAT.  Some of our regional schools only require 12 credits after high school to transfer.  Even our flagships require 24-30 and are pretty clear on what classes they want to see.  Colleges I have looked at don't seem to care as much about the high school transcript when they are transfer students.


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We aren't homeschooling any more. DS15 is enrolled in public high school, has learning disabilities, and won't take algebra until 10th grade.

His math class this year is called Algebra, Geometry, Statistics and is abbreviated as AGS.

In this class, the teachers do not use a set curriculum. Instead, they teach the skills needed to prepare for algebra. Every Friday, they have a skills quiz over what they have been practicing. Students can take a quiz over the same topic for three weeks in a row, if they need to repeat the information a few times, and they only record the highest grade. Each student in the class can move at his or her own pace; they group them in small groups of kids who are working on the same material at the same time.

We toured a different high school, as well. In that school, the class for kids who were not ready for algebra in 9th grade is called Algebra Prep.

So I think you could call his 9th grade math class Algebra Prep. If it will take two years to get through algebra, you could call 10th grade Algebra 1A and 11th grade Algebra 1B. 12th grade would be geometry.

If your state has a graduate requirement to get through both geometry and algebra 2, he would not meet that if he takes algebra over two years, so you would have to consider that his transcript will not track with what is typical. In that case, either he only makes it through geometry. Or you could consider naming the last years of high school math differently.

I can find copies of the course catalogues of our local schools online, and I have looked at them to see what they call non-typical classes. You might be able to get some ideas if you do that for schools in your area.

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One thing I did for BK, who has pretty severe LD's, and who really, really struggles with math is to have her to do the math for elementary education class at the community college. It counted as a high school math credit, but since it was focused on teaching strategies for elementary math, the actual math was pre-algebra and below, and there was a lot of focus on using manipulatives and teaching in different ways. She had adapted math through Algebra 2 on her transcript before she came to me, but as far as I can tell, that was due mostly to being a nice kid and extra credit for things like making posters about the Pythagorean theorem, not actual understanding. The CC class gave her math at the level she really needed, in a way that helped her actually learn strategies that were helpful to her, and also gave her a little more confidence. The two semester sequence meets the general math requirement for degrees that do not have a specific math requirement, but are easier than college algebra, so if she decides to go back to colleges in the region, she won't need to take more math in many programs.


For other subjects, we mostly changed the way she got content in and out-so lots of audio books and immersion reading for history, science, and literature (Learning Ally and Bookshare, plus a kindle with immersion reading were a big help) and lots of oral output. The community college selects textbooks available in this format-and, in fact, most have a digital code that includes a "Read to me" feature.  She was interested in health, and did lifeguard training, CPR, First aid, and similar classes as part of her high school science (and it also gave her an in to good part time work-and now that she is out of school, she is working part time at two different pools, while she figures out what she wants to do). One thing her FOO was really good at was giving her life skills.

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1 hour ago, dmmetler said:

have her to do the math for elementary education class at the community college. It counted as a high school math credit, but since it was focused on teaching strategies for elementary math, the actual math was pre-algebra and below, and there was a lot of focus on using manipulatives and teaching in different ways

That was BRILLIANT, love it!!!!!

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My thoughts:

Saxon is very wordy and tends to be unnecessarily difficult for dyslexic kids IME.  I suggest you try a less reading intensive math.  Maybe Math U See.

Try lots of audiovisual input, and lots of project output.

Try Brave writer. 

Try High Noon materials, for example their US history books for people with trouble reading English.  Plus documentary films. 

Use a lot of audiobooks.  Get him signed up for Bookshare, Learning Ally, NLS.

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In my state, they want to see math through Algebra 2 on a transcript to be considered a high school level transcript. My kid can earn a modified/SPED transcript, but it’s considered a last option. They’d much rather you take a 5th year.

Functionally, if your kid just is where they are.....and going at the pace that they can go at....what is your end goal? Is it admission to vo-tech? Is it entrance to a cc with rolling open admissions? Like what is your end goal and how do you work backwards from that?

Fwiw, qualifying for vocational rehab may be something to look into. Our county has a fantastic program that you can start once a kid is 16.

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Also, fwiw, it is my SPED kid who will always be a public school student. The resources offered through the schools are just well beyond what I can access on my own. If there are abounding resources through the public schools, it may be worth it to re-enroll as a freshman. We didn’t have such great resources in other states....so ymmv.

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