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Hello, everyone!  I am new to Classical, though I've done Charlotte Mason when my oldest few were younger.  Then we switched to more unschooling/relaxed, and the past few months we've been doing a little more trending toward traditional.  I just got The Well-Trained Mind from the library and loved the first half so much, I bought it.  LOL  I'm just not sure how on earth to do this.  I have 10 children, 17 down to 5.  5 of them are internationally adopted, so they are pretty far behind their typical grade levels plus some special needs going on (trying to figure all of those out).  My 5 bio kids also have some special needs (ADHD/giftedness, ASD/ADHD/anxiety, anxiety/dyslexia, and jury's still out on the other 2 but obvious there is something).

Am I crazy for even wanting to attempt something like Classical?  How can I make this work?  I am feeling like I need to do some remedial reading work with all 10 (my oldest is the dyslexic), and even though she has her own track trying to graduate on time next year and then go on to become an astrophysicist, she is, for the first time in her life, asking for direction, schedules, and a bit more "thinking matter."

Tips, suggestions, advice all welcome!  Thank you!

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Welcome to the boards! You definitely fit in here. :smile: So I'll give you a quick tip, if you don't know this. You can google site search here and get ideas or track comments by posters you might identify with. So there are plenty of people who've posted here in the past 15 years who had large families with multiple kids with SN. You can use their name, a term, whatever, and site search like this:  terms site:welltrainedmind.com  

Just to give you an example, here's what you might get if you put in "apologia dyslexia site:welltrainedmind.com"  https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=apologia+dyslexia+site:welltrainedmind.com&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8  You see you'll get old threads too, which might give you names to get more ideas. Then you could search using a user name, whatever.

Ok, so now to your big questions! :biggrin:

1 hour ago, mateosbaby said:

Am I crazy for even wanting to attempt something like Classical? 

Yes? LOL So very few people do WTM unmodified. SWB doesn't do WTM unmodified, lol. And the degree to which it works for you vs. inspires you or helps you focus on the important things really depends on the kid, kwim? Like my dd, more of your ADHD plus anxiety, very bright, difficulty getting out her thoughts for writing but other than that quite strong, she was usually a grade ahead on EVERYTHING. WTM, Veritas Press, you name it. Nothing was wow for her, so I just facilitated. But my ds, with his language disabilities, ASD2, apraxia, SLDs in reading/math/writing, he's a lot more challenging. Honest to goodness, it's like he's JUST NOW going into that sort of elementary phase of inhaling names of things, and he's 11!!

What's fascinating though is that WTM informs me that narrative is important. It gives me a touch stone to say ok if that's not happening, WHY, what do I need to look for, kwim? So usually what happens is that everything ds needs done with therapy materials. We do grammar, but with SLP materials. We do math, but with intervention materials. We read aloud, but I have to carefully control for syntax and lexile to make sure he's comprehending. It's just a lot harder. But do things INSPIRE me? Of course. We watch operas, read shakespeare picture books, do art study, nature walks. Everything he CAN do, he gets to do WHEN it's the right time. I try to be diverse and broad, liberal in my exposure. My ds has significantly restricted interests, and my WTM tells me about the value of breadth. So I tell him Ernest Gilbreth was the original speedrunner (someone who plays video games really fast), and then he's psyched to listen to Cheaper by the Dozen:biggrin:

Another thing that works really well for some people with kids with restricted interests is to go ahead and read or listen to SWB's next level book The Well Educated Mind. I went to her talk on it years and years ago, and it was a real epiphany for me, because I realized that I could look at ADULT LEARNERS with my dc's issues and think about how ADULT LEARNERS pursue their education and stay engaged. My dc might be less enthused about highly prescripted learning, but they might engage in a way that respects them as learners. So it's kind of a balance. Some people find it works to bring those strategies down. I decided that for some areas it was not WORTH it to fight or say something had to be done a certain way, especially by high school. So for high school biology, I said what do adult learners like her look like, people who stay engaged, people who are like her but thinking about those topics? And I looked for materials that *applied* the topics to things that would interest her. 

Now that's highly controversial when you're like oh I let her read about victorian flower arranging and the history of worms to go with the chapter topics for a regular text (that we used extremely little). Highly controversial. But she survived, didn't leave burnt out, did leave engaged, and since the books I was using were from AP Bio reading lists (yes), she scored exceptionally well and got top scholarships. 

So we can talk intervention, we can talk being diligent, and we can talk about sprinkling magic pixie dust and saying you can bring magic to your school time and make it what it really needs to be to fit the dc.

:wub:

1 hour ago, mateosbaby said:

How can I make this work?

I suggest you go over to the Gen board and actually start a thread for that. Seriously. You'll probably get good responses. (Oops, I thought this was on LC, so come visit us on LC, hehe) Also do a site search for scheduling/organizing for large families, because we've had threads on this. I have two kids, so I'm possibly less help to you. However I'll toss you out a few thoughts. 

1) Do your kids have issues with working independently? With that much ADHD and ASD floating around, I assume you do. So that's an area to think about hard, thinking about how you can meet each dc where they are and what the next step is for them. For my dd, working independently required both STRUCTURE and doable MATERIALS. For my ds, his anxiety is so high that he requires "significant support" (Hence the ASD2 label, lol) to work independently. The task has to be familiar and it's just a challenge. I can tell you every in home worker we've had has wanted to work on it. 

Side note, WAITING skills go along with that. If any of the kids have difficulties with WAITING, that will be an area to focus on. And they can go together, as you can teach a task to independence that they can do WHILE WAITING. Once you have that, voila now you have the ability to work a schedule. Visual, written, printed, whiteboard, velcro, clipboard, doesn't matter. They just need those foundational skills or it all falls apart. Some people *pair* kids to provide that support. I have zero experience with that.

2) Think about what you want from WTM and pick the things that are *most* speaking to you. Don't feel the need to change things that were WORKING or to take on a whole system or radical changes that would be unnatural. Pick 1-3 things and start bringing them in. If they're important to you and calling to you, I think you're more likely to find a way and put in that energy it will take to get there. They'll be more intuitive changes for you.

3) Ask questions, look at your kids, etc. Just saying. You know this, but you need to believe it. It's ok to do the parts that work for your family in the way that works for your family. If you go slowly and watch your kids, you'll be able to sort out the things that aren't working or that maybe need to back up and have a bit different approach because they're disabilities.

For instance, WTM emphasizes narration. It also sort of magically implies that kids GET it. Well I will suggest it's highly possible at least *some* of the kids you have won't "get" it for one reason or another. They could have low working memory, language disabilities, or (drum roll) NARRATIVE LANGUAGE DEFICITS. And does WTM speak to narrative language deficits and tell how to do therapy for that? Hahaha, nope. We know it's an issue because it brings the importance of narrative to our attention. But it never goes into the detail of a program like THIS https://mindwingconcepts.com/pages/methodology  because it doesn't NEED to for typical kids. 

But looking at the list you've got going on, will someone probably need that stronger tool? Yup. Will someone probably need some tier 3 reading intervention for their SLD Reading? Yup. So WTM is your touch point but you may need to get therapy level materials for things, absolutely. Just my two cents, but I would not be slow on that. There is nothing more frustrating that getting into something and not knowing why it's not working. If it's a disability, get the intervention materials for it. Nowadays you can often get FREE materials and FREE options for almost anything. Free OG, Free videos and workshops on narrative language, all kinds of stuff. So just ask and we'll help you.

1 hour ago, mateosbaby said:

I am feeling like I need to do some remedial reading work with all 10 (my oldest is the dyslexic),

Sure. What have you used so far? What you might do is give them all the Barton screening tool https://bartonreading.com/students/#ss  to make sure they pass and then begin with the program of your choice. There are lots of ways to get there and people will be happy to give you ideas. But that's a place to start. Also, you could consider having the ps do evals to get that oldest dc diagnosed. Once they're diagnosed you can get them signed up for the National Library Service/BARD, which would get you AUDIOBOOKS to use with all these kids. Love, love, love BARD/NLS. HIGHLY recommend.

1 hour ago, mateosbaby said:

she is, for the first time in her life, asking for direction, schedules, and a bit more "thinking matter."

What a good stage! If your state offers DE, she might consider that. Then she could do career testing through the cc. Highly recommend career testing. We used it to redirect my dd a bit. She wanted to go pretty niched and we steered her into a program that nurtured ALL her strengths.

For the thinking matter, you might be able to get more challenging books on audio, things she's not ready to read yet. My dd worked through several Nancy Pearcey books her junior/senior year. She ended up doing every philosophy class her university offers as well, lol. Audiobooks are a totally fair game accommodation. Sometimes I made study guides for the books, writing questions for her to answer after each chapter, but sometimes I just asked for a *response journal*. She thought it was crazy at the time, but then she got to college and realized it's something they do a lot. (Why is this relevant, what does it make you think about, how does it apply, etc...) So if you're busy, response journals can be an efficient option.

1 hour ago, mateosbaby said:

pretty far behind their typical grade levels plus some special needs

I like your idea of focusing on important things while also providing depth/richness. 

Do your kids use any TECH? Tech can unleash kids with EF issues by helping them schedule/organize. It can help kids with language disabilities get their thoughts out or read. If you go in dyslexia schools, they're using a lot of tech. Anything you look at in WTM that is written, consider doing instead with TECH. 

1 hour ago, mateosbaby said:

Tips, suggestions, advice all welcome!

Where do you want to start? What do you think your biggest issues are to address? Do you already have a good routine and structure so you just want to change what you're doing? Do some need to go to school or have in home services to help you get things under control? What do you think needs to happen?

Edited by PeterPan
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Thank you for all these ideas!  Lots to think about, for sure.  I'm really glad I still have a couple of months before I need to get up and running again.  I will have to play around with the search function.  I'm bad at search terms.  LOL  I have realized over the past few weeks that my ASD dd will be 16 next month, but she's still solidly at middle school level in most subjects, and I've been trying to fit her into high school level.  No wonder she pretty much wasted this entire year!  I was asking her to do hard things.  😕  I definitely need to somehow combine as many kids as possible for as many subjects as possible.  That is one thing that HAS been working well!  We actually had 3 in school this year but decided to homeschool them, as well, when all the schools closed down in March (mayhem is an understatement if I'd tried to keep up with what the schools were planning to send home for them to do, plus the 7 already here!).  And it's been going so well, we're going to keep them all home next year.

I definitely feel like it's the structure of the many subjects that is calling to me.  That, and logic, because my kids need a heavy dose of that!  LOL  I will keep on reading through the book and take notes of what I am loving or feeling a pull toward.  Thank you so much for your detailed reply!  It really helped me pull some more of my thoughts together.

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I do not have a large family, but I have a large age range. This past year my odd was a 17 yr old senior and my ydd was a five year old ker with one in between. We have followed WTM to a t at times or for certain subjects, while also enjoying the flexibility that hsing allows to follow our interests, make it our own, adjust to each kid's specific needs, and to embrace what is available at the time in the community that may not line up with WTM schedules or PS scope and sequence, but was too good to miss out on. 

I love the above advice about applied biology. That is the type of thing that WTM and designing your own curriculum allows you to do, and it works quite well. So many homeschoolers think they have to do a textbook or online class or a class that looks like PS to "count." So not the case. We have done school all along like that and my odd was very successful in college testing, applications, interviews, and the most important part- getting scholarships, lol!

I wanted to point out if you aren't familiar with the company, Memoria Press, that you should look into getting on the mailiing list for their magalogs (catalogs with educational articles.) They have one aimed at special needs called Simply Classical. I believe they have a full curriculum plan for special needs that embraces classical content. It might be worth looking into for you. 

I have one in between my older and younger that has dyslexic symptoms, and we have dealt with therapies for her and have to take things much more slowly in general in all subjects that WTM would have you. But hsing gives us the opportunity to still focus on poetry, plays, good literature, and to study latin, even if she never becomes a latin master scholar. She gets a specialized education that leaves lots of room for her art projects, but doesn't leave anything out because she needs more focused attention on her daily math than other kids or longer time to read and digest what she reads. And like PP pointed out, we are doing biology this year, and have been quite unconventional in her field and lab work. And it has been wonderful. She has grown potatoes, learned to can, participated in citizen science projects, done a couple of related girl scout badges with field trips, volunteer, learning botany to complete the projects, and a pandemic study of bacteria and virus with microscope work and other projects to round out the year with everything going on now.  

We can embrace all of the free online things into our own curriculum and rewrite our origial plans for the year with the new opportunities that have presented themselves lately. And I can outsource resources for my odd when she needs more than I can focus on if I want to. I still have time to work with my dd6 little by little on reading and math and do things together like nature study and read alouds and videos as a family for all of us. 

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1 hour ago, 2_girls_mommy said:

I love the above advice about applied biology. That is the type of thing that WTM and designing your own curriculum allows you to do, and it works quite well. So many homeschoolers think they have to do a textbook or online class or a class that looks like PS to "count." So not the case. We have done school all along like that and my odd was very successful in college testing, applications, interviews, and the most important part- getting scholarships, lol!

And like PP pointed out, we are doing biology this year, and have been quite unconventional in her field and lab work. And it has been wonderful. She has grown potatoes, learned to can, participated in citizen science projects, done a couple of related girl scout badges with field trips, volunteer, learning botany to complete the projects, and a pandemic study of bacteria and virus with microscope work and other projects to round out the year with everything going on now.  

Oh, my goodness, you just saved my 17yo an entire class!  I did not even think about how much time this girl spends outside ID'ing plants & animals, growing gardens, experimenting with plants/fertilizers, etc!  Between all of that over the past 3 years, she most definitely has a Biology AND a Botany credit!  She earned 2 Astronomy credits because that's where her passion lies.  All of her science has totally been unschooled (she's my only "natural" unschooler, except for math LOL).  Thank you!!!

Also, I loved how you pointed out that we can take things slowly, at their pace.  I've almost always believed I should, but somehow still felt they were "behind," and so pushed them above their abilities.  I am finally figuring out how to embrace where they are right now and work with what we've got.  Slowly and steadily.

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4 hours ago, mateosbaby said:

when all the schools closed down in March (mayhem is an understatement if I'd tried to keep up with what the schools were planning to send home for them to do, plus the 7 already here!).  And it's been going so well, we're going to keep them all home next year.

I'm glad the change has been going well!! That's a huge deal and a major accomplishment. And I think you're right that there could be some flux this coming year and that being home together might be more stable. 

4 hours ago, mateosbaby said:

my ASD dd will be 16 next month, but she's still solidly at middle school level in most subjects,

Are you starting to think about transition and jobs for her? Employability is a *huge* issue, even in higher IQ ASD. 


https://www.ocali.org/project/tg_aata/page/elsa_documents  Here's a form they use for looking at employability forms. Hopefully you go through it and everything is fine. But if there are some glitches or weak areas, these would be things to *target* through the coming year. 

4 hours ago, mateosbaby said:

That, and logic, because my kids need a heavy dose of that!

Logic or perspective taking? https://www.linguisystems.com/Products/31248/practical-theory-of-mind-games.aspx  This is targeted younger, but I really like it. Also ANYTHING from https://www.socialthinking.com/  could be revelatory. HIGHLY recommend.

4 hours ago, mateosbaby said:

I definitely feel like it's the structure of the many subjects that is calling to me. 

Yes, having structure, with clear expectations and a clear plan, reduces anxiety. You'll find people here calling themselves "classical unschoolers" so it's not so off the wall for you to feel like these somehow fit. And I think you're on the right track to ask how you can create structures that lower stress but still give a lot of freedom. 

4 hours ago, mateosbaby said:

No wonder she pretty much wasted this entire year! 

Yeah, my dd had one of those years. I blinked and she had made 1600 pinterest pins on BALLET TUTUS. I kid you not! LOL I'm like fine, costuming credit. :biggrin: 

On the middle school level thing, I just wouldn't worry about it. Kids vary. My dd was doing college level stuff and my ds will be lucky to get through middle school level. His IQ is higher!! You just meet them where they are. I try to think long term. What REALLY matters? Employability matters. Problem solving, language, social skills matter. Ability to engage with adult issues on the level that fits you and have an opinion, have a conversation, that matters. Self-advocacy matters. When you look at employability and social skills, part of it is being able to take correction. 

4 hours ago, mateosbaby said:

I definitely feel like it's the structure of the many subjects that is calling to me.

So the challenge there is reading with comprehension and writing. Done straight, WTM is going to be a lot of that. But I think you're on the right track when you say group things with output at their levels.

Do you think you need physical structure or you want more structured materials? I actually use an office for my ds. I didn't need to so much with my dd, because she could work anywhere. My ds is just much harder to work with. He needs a very calm, organized space to focus and work. Otherwise he may run off, play nintendo, whatever. 

Just your pro tip, but you might want to *ramp up* slowly whatever it is you're trying. Especially with so many kids. Give yourself some grace, starting with 1-2 things the first week and then adding things in as you get your routine smoothed. You also might try to pull some of your overarching goals (social thinking, bible, memory work, poetry reading, read alouds, whatever, whatever) into a morning together time. 

https://autismclassroomresources.com/category/structured-work-systems/  Here's my favorite place to go when I need ideas on how to do things better. She shows lots of ways to do structured work systems and sells printables for them. With so many young kids needing support, you could conceivably have a planning strip for each kid and they work through the plan. And you can UNSCHOOL and have structure like this!!! It's just called MAKING CHOICES. So then you get the structure you want and they get choice and empowerment. 

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Ok, I can tell you how I handled what to let my dd drive and what I would drive. If my dd could do it on her own, then I didn't try to get in the middle of it but would just facilitate. But if my dd needed support to make it happen or STRUCTURE to make it happen, then I was going to drive it. 

I think it's just a thing you can think through as you figure out what to keep kind of unschooly and what you want more structure from you on. If they're already doing satisfactorily with it, don't undo what is already working. So history, lit, my dd could drive. Science, math, she needed me to drive. 

Even with my ds, I try to find ways for him to have choice and drive, which is really challenging. We'll do things like "become an expert" and he's starting to learn how to use youtube to learn things. 

Edited by PeterPan

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On 6/11/2020 at 9:59 AM, mateosbaby said:

Hello, everyone!  I am new to Classical, though I've done Charlotte Mason when my oldest few were younger.  Then we switched to more unschooling/relaxed, and the past few months we've been doing a little more trending toward traditional.  I just got The Well-Trained Mind from the library and loved the first half so much, I bought it.  LOL  I'm just not sure how on earth to do this.  I have 10 children, 17 down to 5.  5 of them are internationally adopted, so they are pretty far behind their typical grade levels plus some special needs going on (trying to figure all of those out).  My 5 bio kids also have some special needs (ADHD/giftedness, ASD/ADHD/anxiety, anxiety/dyslexia, and jury's still out on the other 2 but obvious there is something).

Am I crazy for even wanting to attempt something like Classical?  How can I make this work?  I am feeling like I need to do some remedial reading work with all 10 (my oldest is the dyslexic), and even though she has her own track trying to graduate on time next year and then go on to become an astrophysicist, she is, for the first time in her life, asking for direction, schedules, and a bit more "thinking matter."

Tips, suggestions, advice all welcome!  Thank you!



Peter Pan's suggestions and post was truly excellent and she did bring up an excellent point - not even SWB did TWTM exactly.  It's more of a "how to" do this and what's important and why than something to be followed to the letter.  I was very adherent to TWTM - for the first kid, lol.  I followed TWTM closely for about the first 8 years.  I started with Sonlight when dd was in 7th, then flipped to Tapestry for a while and I do believe it was the addition of wider age ranges.

You're in a similar boat as me - I have eight doing school this year - ages 16-5.  

How are you remediating dyslexia?  How many kids? I use Barton and I tutor five of them using Barton.  That's 2.5 hours and it is CRIPPLING.  Just an FYI.
Peter Pan's suggestion of instituting what "speaks" to you is a good one.  I do not follow TWTM in the early years. I have not read her most recent edition.  But, in the early years, I was reinventing the wheel - essentially writing and planning my own curriculum.  I wouldn't advise that. 

I'd use classical materials that are pre-planned.  I'd also combine as much as is possible.  Look at your ages and abilities.  Where is there natural combination? Perhaps you have a 10yo struggling reader and an 8yo gifted and they don't find offense in one another's abilities. If you have one dyslexic, statistically you should have 50% FYI - though obviously different "levels" on that scale.  I have milds, moderates, and severe- profound.  (Dyslexia is genetic.  When one parent passes it down, the statistical likelihood is to half the offspring.)

We do math separate and we use Rod & Staff for grammar. I'd heavily utilize materials that don't heavily utilize you.

The truth is you will be a bottleneck in this process - everything can flow and the flow will get significantly impaired as kids wait on you - wait on you to make corrections, teach something, help with something, yada, yada.

I'd consider myself classically bent now and eclectic.  Ask aways if you have questions.

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We love Rod and Staff for math and grammar all the way for all students, as does Memoria Press in their pre-planned classical packages. 

I get what a pp is saying about WTM has you planning everything and that's hard. But on the other hand if you try to buy a pre-planned out classical grade level pack for each kid, you're dealing with multiple levels of the same subjects constantly, when combining them where is possible can alleviate some of your daily time constraints. You'll spend more in initial planning time, but free up time by not doing multiple levels of every subject day to day which is where I need time- time to make dinner and do housework. So I'd look for a unit study or multiple grade level materials where you can like for science and history and art that fit into what you want to teach vs a full grade package for each child. WTM walks you through combining multiple age levels in a general way. But you do have to figure out the nuts and bolts of what that will look like in your homeschool. 

Edited by 2_girls_mommy

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18 hours ago, 2_girls_mommy said:

We love Rod and Staff for math and grammar all the way for all students, as does Memoria Press in their pre-planned classical packages. 

I get what a pp is saying about WTM has you planning everything and that's hard. But on the other hand if you try to buy a pre-planned out classical grade level pack for each kid, you're dealing with multiple levels of the same subjects constantly, when combining them where is possible can alleviate some of your daily time constraints. You'll spend more in initial planning tie, but free up time by not doing multiple levels of every subject day to day which is where I need time- time to make dinner and do housework. So I'd look for a unit study or multiple grade level materials where you can like for science and history and art that fit into what you want to teach vs a full grade package for each child. WTM walks you through combing multiple age levels in a general way. But you do have to figure out the nuts and bolts of what that will look like in your homeschool. 


Yes, I admit I felt like I was "cheating" when I heavily utilized curriculum after doing so much planning the first many years.  But I figured out that "classical" is as much in the implementation as in the materials.  If someone else invents the wheel, no use in attempting to reinvent it rather than just enjoy using round wheels!  

Look for materials that are suggested by SWB that are "open and go" or "do the next thing."

I love Rod & Staff grammar and we have traditionally used it two levels beneath grade level so that it is able to be done independently.  (This isn't an issue because it only goes through 9/10.)
I love Saxon.  You will want DIVE or the teacher CDs with this many kiddos.  It will save you a lot of time.
SWB's materials are phenomenal.  Note that in the elementary years, Rod & Staff has sufficient writing instruction in the grammar books.

You said you've done Charlotte Mason? CM is a classical educator.  SWB is one "flavor" of classical education and CM is another.  You might want to read this:

https://welltrainedmind.com/a/charlotte-mason-education/?v=7516fd43adaa

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