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What should I do about science? Opinions, suggestions...


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My DS is 12.5. Raging ADHD, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, low/normal IQ. He has a terrible time in understanding most anything that is even remotely abstract or complicated. He does not like science (okay, he doesn't like ANY school subjects, but particularly doesn't like science). At his request, we've been using a text/workbook that is specifically geared for special ed kids. Focus on Science, from Steck-Vaughn.

 

Well, he really doesn't get it, not at all. I'm afraid it's making him feel even worse about his learning issues. I'm thinking of changing to a different method of doing science, dropping the workbook. But we've been through a lot of different curriculum, changed so many times, and I don't want to waste more time just spinning my wheels, KWIM?

 

DS hates anything hands-on, due to his extremely poor fine motor skills and visual/spatial processing issues. He doesn't want to watch videos. He is somewhat resistant to the idea of school on the computer, although that might be an option. He isn't much interested in living books, either. He is just plain difficult to teach.

 

Taking these many factors into account, what would YOU do with this child for science? I prefer something secular, or at least not heavily religious. Do you wonderful ladies have any suggestions for me?

Michelle T

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Take a look at this if you haven't seen it before. It was designed for an aspie and there may be something you can use.

 

http://www.ourlosbanos.com/homeschool/science_human_body.html

 

Another idea is that Hands of a Child lapbooks can be bought in a version where you can type in the answers. That might make them easier to do for you. If you let your ds pick the topic you study, he might be invested enough in it to do the lapbook.

 

Do you think he might like the Discover and Do dvds from Sonlight? I know they're K-2, but the Usborne books they're based on could easily be used for upper elementary, IMHO. Another alternative might be a TOPS unit. That might work if your ds sees one that interests him and is motivated to do it.

 

As a last resort, how does he feel about legos? Could you use something like Simple and Motorized Mechanisms?

 

Good luck finding something, I know how frustrating it can be to not be able to match a kid with a doable curriculum!

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I'm not familiar with the curriculum text you are using but I am going to assume it is the style of "him read it to himself and answer questions at the back of the chapter". And are you testing him?

 

If that is the case it could have 3 or 4 root issues:

a. maybe the text is totally boring

b. maybe he hates to read then have to answer questions

c. is his fear of being tested not letting him LEARN content

d. maybe the issue is him not wanting to read it to himself (due to LDs?)

 

Have you tried reading aloud to him from really interesting books instead?

 

Or ditch the textbook and have him use a living books based experience where he reads to himself from good, interesting books

 

Or have readings not associated with 'questions at the end' or tests?

 

Narration is one option for checking comprehension

 

and a better option for some kids to learn is---

 

EXPERENTIAL LEARNING, that is, at least for nature and habitats, to take an experiental nature science class where he is outdoors all day and learning by immersing in nature?

 

We have two different wilderness schools near me (CT) for HSed kids. These must be happening in other states as well.

 

A lighter version of these are also offered all over my state at Audubon Centers, where they run classes from 1-2 hours in length instead of all day programs.

 

Sometimes all it takes is one change and to have learning happen through different channels to open doors to other subjects.

 

**I am also reading The Motivation Breakthrough by Richard Lavoie right now, a book for parents and school teachers about kids with LDs, their attitudes toward learning, why they feel the way they do, how we can help them. While the book is not geared toward HS parents you can see what he says for parents to do can help us as parents, what he says are problems in schools can be avoided by the fact that we HS and then take some of the teachers advice and put it to practice in our homeschool. It is out in hardback and paperback and a DVD version comes out in Feb 2009. I've learned a lot that I'd not heard in various other readings I've done.

 

HTH.

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Hmm the link didn't go through.

 

Here is a link to one CT HS experiential nature school program if you want to see what kinds of things go on there. There are different classes with different focuses for kids from age 4 to 17.

 

If you go back through to the beginning (sept 2008) you will see logs for the fall classes with photos.

 

http://greathollow.wordpress.com/

Edited by ChristineMM
link still not appearing
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I don't use a formal curriculum/textbooks for science. The basic skill areas take so much time that another formal program/assignments would be very burdensome. These are some of the resources that have worked best here:

*Magic School Bus books/videos

*DK Eye Wonder books/DK Eyewitness videos

*One Small Square books

*Magazines like Zoobooks

 

This year we've been using the One Small Square books. The focus of each book is a particular habitat and the plants, animals, and a bit of the geography that go with it. We use The Usborne Illustrated Encyclopedia: The Natural World as a supplement. I'll also combine science with short writing projects. She chooses an animal and makes a fact sheet about it or a keyword outline/paragraph (IEW).

 

I try to follow her interests for science whenever possible. She never used to be that interested in animals/zoo visits, etc. so now that she's showing an interest that's her science program.

 

There must be something that your ds would find fascinating, or at least mildly interesting. What could he "study" that's handy...I know you've got cats, so maybe he'd like to learn more about cats. Or is there something he could collect...maybe start a rock collection and get a rock tumbler? Would he be interested in cooking? If you get Alton Brown's cooking show he includes a lot of "sciency" stuff in his program. Gardening/botany? If he's a night owl maybe astronomy would appeal to him? An early bird...then maybe birdwatching instead?

 

Good luck!

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My DS is 12.5. Raging ADHD, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, low/normal IQ. He has a terrible time in understanding most anything that is even remotely abstract or complicated. He does not like science (okay, he doesn't like ANY school subjects, but particularly doesn't like science). At his request, we've been using a text/workbook that is specifically geared for special ed kids. Focus on Science, from Steck-Vaughn.

 

*snip*

 

DS hates anything hands-on, due to his extremely poor fine motor skills and visual/spatial processing issues. He doesn't want to watch videos. He is somewhat resistant to the idea of school on the computer, although that might be an option. He isn't much interested in living books, either. He is just plain difficult to teach.

 

*snip*

 

Michelle T

 

Hi, Michelle--

 

You've received some great ideas so far. My suggestion isn't meant to be in place of the ideas you've received, but in addition to them.

 

Does ds hate any hands on, or more specifically, those types of hands-on activities requiring fine motor skills? What I'm thinking about are science-related activities that wouldn't take much fine-motor skill. Some of the responses to your post have mentioned some types of these activities.

 

Other activities could include--

Visits to science museums. You live in southern California, where there are a number of such museums available. One of my favorites for children is the Reuben H. Fleet Theater and Museum in San Diego (http://www.rhfleet.org/). Another example might be the Griffith Observatory, although there isn't as much for a child to actually DO there as at the RHFleet. Other possibilities (which I haven't visited) include the Children's Museum of Los Angeles (which I think is temporarily closed because they're moving) or the Children's Discovery Museum of the Desert. Even our local county museum has a number of exhibits that could be a launching point for a science study. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena has its annual open house in May. I've enjoyed going (except for the crowds), but it might be hard on a very ADHD child.

 

Visits to zoos, theme parks. You're reasonably close to the L.A. Zoo, and I'm assuming a couple of hours away from the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park in Escondido. And, there's always Sea World in San Diego. Any of these might be ways of engaging a child in the study of animals (zoology). Even Knott's Berry Farm has educational activities--including some for science--which you might be able to access if your homeschool group can sign up.

 

Gently structured science activities at home. Educational Innovations (http://www.teachersource.com/) is a retailer that carries some novel items. Example: I used their UV beads to engage children in exploring about ultraviolet light: Do the beads change color when exposed to fluorescent light? To sunlight? If they change color in sunlight (which they obviously will), does putting a pair of sunglasses between them and the sunlight change the response? How about coating them with sunscreen? Etc. (With the older kids, I talked about wavelength, frequency, etc., etc.,)

 

The point of the above suggestions is to try to engage ds in science as a first step.

 

Another thought: One program that consists entirely of hands-on activities that vary in the amount of motor skill required is TOPS Science. These titles don't carry as much detailed information as formal science textbooks usually do, but they are very well thought out. You might take a look at their sample. http://www.topscience.org/index.html However, I might start out with just trying to get ds engaged in science, even a little, first. (Does he like Sea World?) :)

 

Just a thought!

Caron

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