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I really have know idea what to do....(long)

Lori C- Texas

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My daughter is well be turning 11 next month. We have only been homeschooling for 3 years. We brought her home at the end of 2nd grade. She could barely read or add without her fingers or a number line. She now is reading on or about a 3rd or 4th grade level(hates to read) and she can do math(but doesn't want to). I get so sick and depressed thinking about all the time we wasted while she was in school. I never even thought of homeschooling, she was 5 so we put her in Kindergarten.:) We started out using Ambleside but she would cry every time I brought out the history stories, so we switched to WTM. She liked this better but still was not wanting to learn. So, this year we switched to a virtual charter school using K12 curriculum and it has been a nightmare. So, we are dropping that. I feel like I am jumping around to much. We are both crying everyday over her school work. I don't think she has a learning disorder. We have switch diets to see if that is a issue and that has not help.


So, my question is does anyone have any advice on what curriculum might suit a 11 year old that is behind and has no desire to move furthur in her studies? Any book suggestions for this age group that would just light a fire for reading?? Money is also a huge factor in our homeschool. I try to make things a fun as I can. She is a very hands on learner(one reason why K12 did not work). We do lots of crafts and try to do the activities in SOTW. She is just getting more and more behind, we are both getting very discouraged. There is just no way I can put her in ps jr. high next year. So, I have to fix this at home. She will be in 6th grade next year. Her 6year old brother is about to pass her by. Another problem is that my husband and I have no family support in our homeschooling journey. So that is another added stress for my daughter and myself.


Thank you for any advice you may have!


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I don't really have a curriculum to recommend, but have you considered trying a unit study on something she's really interested in? With the thought that starting with something she has some passion about, maybe that would spark an interest in learning that would grow . . .

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I can hear your pain and your concern! I'm not an expert, and not really in a position to give advice, Lori, BUT... I would definitely seek out some professional help for your daughter. Get some good testing and diagnoses of any problems that may be hindering her ability to read, such as:

- physical eye problem

- tracking problem

- dyslexia

- brain processing issue


From there, you can get good advice and make a game plan, which may include such things as:

- tutoring

- special help/program/class

- specific curriculum or program.


And, professional testing can *rule out* issues -- some children's brains just mature on their own timetable -- often not until the child is 12-14yo. But definitely testing will help you know whether or not there is an issue to be dealt with, or if you have a "late bloomer". : )


If money is an issue with testing, many public schools offer the ability for homeschool students to receive free testing through a nearby public school's program *without* having to join the public school. So call your local school district and see if something is available. Also, some organizations or churches have charitable programs to help families in need receive financial help for their children to be tested; check around your community.


Also, consider posting on the WTM's Special Needs board, as there are ladies there who homeschool children with many different issues and needs.


And if you are a family of faith, pray for the Lord's wisdom and insight. He blessed you with this special girl to be a part of your family, and He knows your heart's desire to do your very best for her -- He will certainly be faithful to reveal to you what you need to help her.


Blessings to you and your family during your journey. Patience, too -- it took us about 4 years to figure out specifically why our younger son struggled so much with language arts and math. While he's still behind in some areas, he is definitely moving forward and we've seen so much progress, especially in the last 1-2 years! He is 14 now.


Strength to persevere! And encouragement that you are not alone! Warmest regards, Lori D.

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It does sound like your daughter has an excessive amount of learning frustrations -- and it could be a learning-related disorder. If I were in your shoes, I would seek some sort of outside evaluation (like Sylvan, or something similar). They might be able to pinpoint a problem you may not be able to see. It is extremely important to find out what is going on -- if anything.


If nothing is going on, and your daughter is truly just not "wanting" do learn, I would find the simplest method of homeschooling her and stick with it. Use carrot/stick approach to everything. At the age of 11, your daughter should be able to do most of her schooling independently -- with just some minimal oversight & assistance.


I'd lean towards a curriculum that uses a LOT of work-book type assignments (a-la Abeka... but "light" -- not EVERY problem, only enough to show she knows, and if she doesn't know go over it until she does -- but a little each day) For most subjects, I'd require "fill in the blank" type of answers -- EXCEPT literature/english which should be complete sentences.


I'm all for making homeschool as "fun" as possible. But there are things my children "don't want to" as well, but they aren't negotiable. Yes, there are tears (occassionally) -- at times I want to pull my hair out and throw in the towel. That said, my battles aren't daily and aren't on every subject -- so not that comparable.


When my oldest DID have issues it was because the material went too slowly. When I sped it up and took out excessive busy work he was a lot more happy (meaning, we both were).


At 11, your daughter is also pre-pubescent which can bring its own issues -- and simply be a lot more trying. I'd also encourage you to find out what your daughter dreams of being when she grows up and have many talks with her about what she needs to do to accomplish those goals. Have her begin setting goals for herself and taking responsibility for meeting them.


I hope things get better. What you're going through sounds really rough.

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How about a unit study? They have some good unit studies based on American Girl dolls. This might catch her interest. First of all, I would tell her that there are some things that are non-negotiable. Math will be done without whining, etc....And tell her that there are some things that she can choose.

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First, take a deep breath and tell yourself "I will not beat myself up over this!". Your dd will be okay. You said Ambleside didn't work. WTM works better. K12 is a challenging curriculum and if she's doing it on grade level...WOW! My dd was in tears last year in K12 5th grade, too, and she's an average to above average student. Glad you're ditching that "structure". What subjects is she most behind in? Math? Sounds like she might need a mastery approach. Try MUS (DVD instruction might help as well...so you're not the teacher ALL the time). Take their placement test to figure out where she'd "fit". Don't WORRY that she's behind grade level! Each child develops at different speeds and with all the new emotional stuff she's facing as a pre-teen...don't push her too hard to "catch up". Just go at her pace. How about reading? Let her choose books that she enjoys. My dd really enjoys American Girl books, Historical Fiction novels (My America series is good), Elsie Dinsmore (Christian), Girls of Faith series, etc. Get her reading up to speed by using books she enjoys but not junk books (babysitters club, goosebumps, etc.). How about grammar? Growing With Grammar might work as it is a workbook format, it's thorough and she can just fill in the blanks.


As for History and Science...sounds like you might need to just focus on the basics for a while. She won't be scarred for life if you ditch History and Science for a year and take a more relaxed approach. Do some science experiments, read some good historical fiction (don't forget read-alouds and audiobooks for this!). Let her listen to SOTW audios for history. She'll retain more than you think. Let her use the free time to explore what interests her. Knitting, drawing, painting, photography, rocks/minerals, scrapbooking, building, etc.? Take a relaxed approach to 6th and use it as a time to decompress, relax, get her core subjects more on track, and allow her time to explore what interests her. JMHO.

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Thank you all for your words of encouragement. I know that I am letting to many outside influences put to much pressure on my daughter and I. I just dread seeing my family or my in laws because their answer to all of my dd issues is put her back in school. That at this point would be the worst thing for her. I guess I just needed someone to tell me that it is okay to just step back and not worry about doing things at a certain time. I am also going to look into getting her tested for any kind of learning issues. I am going to look in to some unit studies. I didn't even think of that. She love American Girl dolls and ballet. So, that is a place to start. She is a very artist, creative, and a very talented dancer. So, I will focus on that and just try to light that fire for reading in anyway I can find it. Thank you all again for the encouraging words. It truly help me step back and breathe.:)


Her main areas she is behind in are reading, spelling, and math. Math she can do. We did use MUS before using K12 and she liked it. So, we will most likely go back to that. I am thinking of starting her on some of the language arts books from queenhomeschool.com. I think maybe that will be a breath of fresh air.:) Thank you again.

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Which is very fluid, and sometimes I think hard to measure progress. I would focus on the 3 Rs and do something like CLE or ACE. Those programs come in very little, bite sized chunks. It seems like she needs to build some momentum and feel like she's gaining ground. The paces (that's what ACE calls each packet) are short and with each one, she can feel like she's accomplishing something. I would ditch history and science, with the exception of some read alouds or library books geared to her reading level. If she loves the arts, I would continue to pursue that in your school time, so she has something that she can really look forward to each day. Have you gone back to re teach phonics? If her early education at school didn't cover that enough, that could explain her reading and spelling difficulties. I'm just thinking out loud here, so feel free to chuck anything that doesn't apply : )


As the others suggested, I would have her evaluated. It never hurts to cover all of the bases. Hugs,

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I agree with th unit study idea. My daughter just came out of PS last year and it has been a bit of a struggle. We use MUS and SOTW too and she likes these very much. Next year however we are going all unit studies because now I know what interests her. There are neat science kits that aren't too expensive at this site.




As for the reading my daughter hates it too. I find reading TO HER is at least a way to make me feel better that she is doing something. Sometimes I have her narrate or draw a picture after the book. She does read everyday now. Maybe lapbooks would be something she would like too. There is a bit of writing but mine loves the cutting and folding so she doesn't seem to mind. There are literature pockets just like history pockets and that is another hands on thing she may like that may also get her reading. My girl likes Sequential Speller which is designed for kids with a learning disability. Good luck with her I'm sure you'll find a resolution. It can be hard when you feel like everyone has an eye on you.

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Once we had our son tested, we discovered he was mildly dyslexic, and is a very Visual-Spatial Learner (VSL). He was a bit of a late bloomer in reading, and esp. struggles with the physical act of handwriting, and with spelling and writing.


A few of things you mentioned about your daughter (artistic, physically skilled, doesn't like the math), makes me think that she, too, may be a VSL. These students take in information most easily visually, and often kinesthetically (movement of self, or physical manipulation of objects), rather than auditorially (hearing). And the VSL processes that information in a random (not logical/sequential), global (big picture) and very 3-D manner. If that is the case, then workbooks and programs that come from an abstract/logical/sequential viewpoint make school a nightmare for these students.


The VSL tends to see the big picture or pattern intuitively -- and then gets down to seeing the parts that make it up. They are quick at solving puzzles and are very good at mentally turning objects around in their minds. Use a lot of critical thinking materials and logic puzzles to help them begin to develop the logical/sequential portion of their thinking.


The VSL tends to do better with visual learning methods:

- video lessons

- science/history/art/music documentaries

- historical movies

- educational computer software (though, use this carefully)


And with hands-on programs:

- kits

- experiments

- activities

- manipulatives



Programs that my VSL son has connected well with:



- Math U See

- (I know another lady whose VSL daughters do well with Teaching Textbooks)



- books above his level, we read aloud together "popcorn style" ("you read a page, I read a page")

- for his solo reading, I have him pick books of personal interest, or assign one a month that is below his reading level



- Megawords

- practice out-loud spelling together, first me to him and I toss him a beanie toy, then he repeats aloud to me and tosses it back

- practice adding prefixes, endings, and making plurals, and making visual pictures to tell the difference between homophones (like "meet" and "meat") on the whiteboard

- practice simultaneous writing/spelling/thinking by dictating a short sentence with short words he knows, plus 1-3 spelling words in the sentence.



- Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) -- more for me, learning how to help him and to teach him how to use the "keyword outline" technique

- Ready, Set, Revise (very simple daily writing warm up, also introduces writing concepts)

- Wordsmith Apprentice

- later on, Jump In or Wordsmith

- writing on a topics of personal interest



- Winston Basic, then Winston Advanced (do just a few sentences a day on whiteboard, or orally)

- Comic Strip Grammar for fun supplement

- Take Five Minutes: A History Fact a Day for Editing; Editor in Chief (grammar mechanics)



- lots of videos

- real books

- hands-on kits and activities

- interesting historical and cultural fiction (for context)

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I don't know if this will help you BUT my 11 yr. old son sounds like your daughter. He 'should' be in 6th, but we are using 3rd grade math, 4th grade grammar, are just barely getting 3 sentence narrations from him, and don't even ask about his spelling! What I have had to do is let go of the 'shoulds' and the thinking he is behind and meet him where he is at in each subject. This was VERY hard to do! But we have had days of crying, yes crying. These pass and are less frequent as I learn to meet him where he is at. Granted, he reads like a fish...IF he likes the book. My suggestion is to look at the basics- math, reading, writing, spelling, grammar- and place her in each subject where she falls. For reading, all I have him do is read from the assigned book list I made up, and dictate to me a short summary of the book. He will sometimes draw a picture of his favorite scene. That's it, no lit. analysis or anything. We do have a read aloud going, usually, as well. Choose books that may be easy for her as that will build her confidence in her abilities. The other thing I am thinking is HORMONES! They sure make life harder all the way round. As an aside-The Evan-Moor Pockets are great! Good luck and know you are not alone.

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I am so glad to here that others have had these problems. I love reading these boards. So, helpful. Lori D., Thank you so much for all of those ideas. I am going to go google VSL right now and look and see if my library has any books on it. I am also going to find out where to get here tested. Thanks alot!:)

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I don't really have a curriculum to recommend, but have you considered trying a unit study on something she's really interested in? With the thought that starting with something she has some passion about, maybe that would spark an interest in learning that would grow . . .

oh.. this can be so distressing... do you feel like the clock is just ticking??


I would suggest unit studies. Keep them short... 4-6 weeks per topic. Let her choose the topics/subjects she wants to learn about. Get books from the library and read to her, let her read.... maybe a craft or project to go along with it.


Let her have a break from any structured curriculum and learn to enjoy learning again.... you may need to hold her hand for a bit... but it could work... Doing a little each day is better than doing a lot and not learning anything...


I like Jennifer Steward’s unit study guides... they are inexpensive, books can be found at the library and all the suggestions for many subjects are in the guides...and are set up to be done in 4-6 weeks using a note book approach.



Jennifer Steward



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Time Traveler History..this is very hands on and the lessons can be what you print off or you can add extra reading. The only bad things is that they only have 3 topics.

We are just now finishing up American Revolution


God's Design for Science, the lessons are short and they have experiments at the end of the lesson.


Apologia Elementary Science along with Live and Learn Press(hands on)


I have jumped around so much with History and Science it's sad! My youngest son will be starting Apologia next year which I am very happy about.

Dd will start Sonlight...which we have NEVER used, so I am not sure about!


History for next year will be Geography and Cultures, so I am hoping that will work and then we are moving to Sonlight. I like the hands on/unit study approach for History, but I have to have everything planned for me like Time Traveler does, or I get lost.

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your daughter is just beautiful!


You know, it's so hard, isn't it, to have a child who's behind where we think they should be or others think they should be? I have a dd 8 who's doing AO Year 1, and who is doing Year 1 MEP Math. She's reading at grade level. Her handwriting has come light years. So, she's progressing, but she's not at grade level across the board, nowhere near in some areas. I said yesterday to dh, this child is a doer not a reader. I'm not sure that I will ever be able to turn her into a child who is in love with books or higher math. Put her in the yard, have her garden, clean, do dishes, bake with me, she's happy as can be. She wants to work and do things not sit and read or be read to. She'll play games willingly. She enjoys piano. She loves karate. She tolerates doing read alouds with AO. She used to hate when I pulled the books out but we started so slowly she didn't really know what hit her when we built up to longer sections. ;) My goal for her now is to just keep on keeping on.


I'm no expert, but if I were in your shoes, I, honestly, would just keep on keeping on with her. I'd focus on the basics right now. Let her focus on things she loves, but along with that she's got to do math, reading, and writing. Maybe ACE Paces is a good idea as someone suggested. Some reading below grade level to help with fluency, and then, I'd also probably make a point to choose books for her to read and I'd read the same book so we could discuss. Get her talking about what she's reading. And one thing I read recently that I thought was a great idea was to have your dc keep a journal in which they just record some things they learned that day. A daily record of what they're learning/reading/working on. I loved this idea.


Good luck with whatever you decide!



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haven't read everything but what about CLE (or something similar )at whatever grade she tests at---Primarily.


When the basics are getting done slow and steady maybe consider:


something like ourlosbanyos.com or


a simple history read aloud like SOTW or This Country of OUrs/An Island Story or maybe this


and a science/nature book on whatever she's interested in...

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In no particular order:



- Unicorns Are Real (Vitale) -- concrete, specific ideas for teaching K-4th gr. VSL learners


- How to Get Your Child Off the Refrigerator and onto Learning (Barnier) -- specific ideas for teaching kinesthetically to active Kinder-4th grade students


- Right Brained Children in a Left Brained World: Unlocking the Potential of Your ADD Child (Freed) -- don't be put off by the subtitle; he has some specific, concrete ideas for teaching 5th grade and up VSL students


- Upside Down Brilliance: The Visual Spatial Learner (Silverman)


- The Gift of Dyslexia (Davis) -- therapy ideas you can do at home with a student who struggles with reading, writing or math


- The Way They Learn (Tobias) -- tips about setting up an environment to help a struggling student be able to concentrate

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I didn't read all of the responses, but I think Lori D. and LisaK had very good advice. I'm having great success using CLE lang arts and math with my wiggly, ADHD 10 yo ds. Try TruthQuest for history, but be willing to tandem read. Have her read "real" books for reading. FWIW, my ds is quite the pouter when it comes to doing school work. He'd much rather be playing and he isn't very motivated at all, but while I'm willing to be flexible, I won't let his pouting dictate our day. Quite simply, school work must get done and the sooner he buckles down and does it, the sooner he can do whatever it is he wants to do. His ADHD is undiagnosed, but others in the family have it and he has all of the classic traits. He also has OCD and some tics. I try hard to pick curriculum that is academic, but not overwhelming for him...Because when he breaks down, so do I. Check out my blog to see what I'm using. All the best!

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I really enjoy your blog too, you have two wonderful children there!

Our two are really enjoying Ellen McHenry for Science.

She just has 'The Elements' and 'The Brain' at the moment but I think your daughter would really love them.

They involve very little writing or busywork and include skipping and clapping songs for learning the Periodic Table, playing lots of games, experiments thoroughly explained and suggestions for read-alouds. They are suitable for up to grade 8 and so she wouldn't have to take a step back at all.

You daughter looks like she appreciates beauty too and so I think she will enjoy how well it is presented.

There are plenty of free downloads you can try.

It is so difficult not to feel bullied by the outside world and pushed into pushing your own child.

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My husband is out of town so we had a long phone call last night discussing what to do next. We are just going to take the rest of this week off and relax. This weekend we are going to go to the library and have dd pick out whatever books she wants(but they have to be real books) :) I posted a long list of what we are going to try to do on my blog. But basicly, just read, read, read. Have her "help" me teach the boys. Hoping, that this well help with phonics and spelling. We are going to all take a hour after lunch and just read either a read aloud or we all just lay on the floor and read our own books. We are going to start MUS again. I am not going to worry about history or science right now. I will have her help her brothers with their science and history but I am not going to have her focus on those right now. My family is going to freak out but who cares. This is what we think she needs right now. Just some relax fun learning. We are also going to try to add in some more art and nature study. We are also making an appointment with her doctor to discuss how to get her tested for any learning issues.


Again thank you all for such great information and support!


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Hi Lori,

I had no idea you were both struggling so much! :( I left a comment on your blog, I hope it wasn't too presumptuous. My oldest (always homeschooled) struggles academically. We've both cried over school in the past. However, we're both now in the place where we realize that she may never be labeled "stellar student" by traditional standards but she can, with effort, be the person she wants to be and do what she wants to do. Actually, she had known this for awhile...mom is just figuring this out. :) Anyway, I just wanted to give you an encouraging hug and say, keep going! You're figuring things out, you're making changing, you're doing moving forward...you are a great mom!!


Oh, I just saw Lorna recommended The Elements -- we're using this, it is very well done -- readable, understandable and fun!

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