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View Full Version : Adapting to the child's needs- How much is too much?



manec93
02-08-2012, 05:28 PM
In my heart, I think I already know the answer to this question, but I wanted to put it out there, in case I'm missing a certain perspective.

I'm currently homeschooling our 11 year old who has multiple disabilities, the most "obvious" being Autism. While academically, some would consider her at grade level, emotionally, she hovers around 7. (She has several other diagnoses that go along with Autism- i.e., Early Onset Bipolar Disorder, OCD, Expressive/Receptive Language Delays, Fine/Gross Motor Delays, etc.) In essence, she lives in her own little world about 60%-70% of the day.

I know she'll never be able to live independently, but I also don't want to sell her short. She's capable of learning, but she's never going to read a book and write a 3 page book report on it. She's quite capable of understanding "concrete math" concepts, but once you try to tell her that in Algebra, letters and numbers get mixed in together, she laughs and says, "That's crazy! Letters make words, they don't do math." See what I mean?

So I guess my question is, how do I know if I'm adapting too much? For example, I know she can read the words in a typical 6th grade book, but many of the concepts are too far over her head, emotionally. So instead, we're reading the entire Magic School Bus series and doing cross curric. stuff with them. She doesn't argue with me about reading them, is willing to discuss the material with me, and has no problem watching the videos segments I pull via Discovery Education to coincide with the topics in the books, or doing the simply worksheets I provide to reinforce the information. Is it a standard 6th grade curriculum? No way. But does it work for us and her needs? I think so. But I still feel a little guilty for some reason. (Probably because she attended ps for K-5th.)

If my state (Illinois), doesn't require me to provide proof of testing, and if I know she's never going to need a high school diploma, or go to college, how obligated am I to push the more difficult subjects?

Accidental Homeschooler
02-08-2012, 06:11 PM
Go with your heart.

I am not in your situation but I guess in the end the job is always to get them ready to be as independent/successful as they have the potential to be. It would be hard not knowing what that is going to look like but that is what I would be thinking about.

Ellie's mom
02-08-2012, 09:09 PM
My perfectly-average child baulks at some work and not other, has her strengths and weaknesses too. How do I decide the degree to push?
I tell her that she doesn't really have to know anything I am teaching; we are just growing her a good brain.
Just like muscles, brain needs a good workout and will fold and wrinkle up and gain mass only 'cause we use it!

So, it's up to our subjective motherly instinct how much to push and when to coast...

Staysee34
02-08-2012, 10:41 PM
To me, homeschooling is more about meeting the child where they are developmentally. It sounds to me like you are doing a terrific job of doing just that. If she's happy with what she's doing in school and she's getting even a little tiny bit of knowledge from it then I wouldn't give "pushing" a second thought. Keep doing what your doing and introduce new or more difficult topics when she's good and ready.

Christy
02-09-2012, 10:46 AM
You know your child best. Work with her where she is.

One image that might be helpful would be that of climbing mountain trails, and instead of worrying about getting to the top, just take another step in whatever direction is available to you. Every day teach her what she is ready to learn. Focus on where she is, not on the end goals, since you don't know where the end goal is.

Your mention of algebra made me think of http://www.borenson.com/ and the Hands On Equations program. One of the things I have found in it, is that it doesn't involve introducing letters right away. Instead kids use little pawns to represent what my son and I have taken to calling a mystery number. If letters confuse her, take the letters out of the equation. Talk about figuring out how many marbles are in each bag, and draw a little picture of a bag instead of writing X.

dbmamaz
02-09-2012, 11:48 AM
I have to say I struggle with this too. I fear that I am not pushing my kids enough and they won't achieve what they could . . .but the I don't want to make them hate school, either , . . I usually push a little and see how bad they react. If they complain but do it. Ok. If they start losing it, too far. Idk, dh thinks I'm too soft and I doubt myself all the time. They do learn . . . .

manec93
02-09-2012, 12:21 PM
You know your child best. Work with her where she is.

One image that might be helpful would be that of climbing mountain trails, and instead of worrying about getting to the top, just take another step in whatever direction is available to you. Every day teach her what she is ready to learn. Focus on where she is, not on the end goals, since you don't know where the end goal is.

Your mention of algebra made me think of http://www.borenson.com/ and the Hands On Equations program. One of the things I have found in it, is that it doesn't involve introducing letters right away. Instead kids use little pawns to represent what my son and I have taken to calling a mystery number. If letters confuse her, take the letters out of the equation. Talk about figuring out how many marbles are in each bag, and draw a little picture of a bag instead of writing X.

Wow! Thanks for the info. on Borenson. I'll definitely be looking into it very soon. Maybe save it for her 8th grade year. :-)

Thanks everybody for reinforcing that my approach is "okay." I've been struggling ever since we pulled her out of PS, since I can't gauge her progress in any of the traditional ways. It's difficult to know if I'm doing what I need to be doing, but I'm going to keep reminding myself that as long as she is learning something, anything, then we're doing okay. It's not a matter of what she learns, or how much she learns, as long as she's learning.

laundrycrisis
02-09-2012, 12:22 PM
I have recently been reading two books about teaching math to people with Downs syndrome and other types of hands-on learners. At the time the book was written, the author's son lived semi-independently in an apartment with roommates that was part of a group-home type organization. In these books, she goes into some detail about the types of skills that were beneficial to her son and his roommates. This makes me wonder if there is a similar organization in your area that might be able to give you some guidance on which skills and types of knowledge are most important for a person like your DD, and other things she might enjoy learning about.

Her books are mostly math-oriented so they focus on things like counting money, telling time, having concepts of time, things like that. I also spend a lot of time looking through websites like Bright Apple, Remedia and Wieser Educational, and I see a lot of materials for self-care, grooming, health, and scripted social interactions. They also have a lot of books to teach science and social studies to older kids who need material written at a lower grade level or in more concrete/less abstract terms. You might find some ideas at these websites.

manec93
02-09-2012, 01:12 PM
I have recently been reading two books about teaching math to people with Downs syndrome and other types of hands-on learners. At the time the book was written, the author's son lived semi-independently in an apartment with roommates that was part of a group-home type organization. In these books, she goes into some detail about the types of skills that were beneficial to her son and his roommates. This makes me wonder if there is a similar organization in your area that might be able to give you some guidance on which skills and types of knowledge are most important for a person like your DD, and other things she might enjoy learning about.

Her books are mostly math-oriented so they focus on things like counting money, telling time, having concepts of time, things like that. I also spend a lot of time looking through websites like Bright Apple, Remedia and Wieser Educational, and I see a lot of materials for self-care, grooming, health, and scripted social interactions. They also have a lot of books to teach science and social studies to older kids who need material written at a lower grade level or in more concrete/less abstract terms. You might find some ideas at these websites.

Thanks so much! I'll definitely look into those websites. I'm constantly looking for material that might be better suited for our daughter's needs.

momof2
02-09-2012, 03:35 PM
If this is your 1st year, I'm finding that both of my boys are reluctant to delve in. My son with Asperger's learned not to trust in teaching/learning w/o being overwhelmed. His resistant behavior comes out when he just thinks it might be difficult or he's adverse to "school." I find we are unlearning a lot of defensiveness he had to use in school. School was pleased when he "kept it together" at school, never-mind the emotional mess he was in the evening. We too are adapting to him! Very little writing, learning to read (or should I say, believing in himself that he can read,) & relaxing art/drawing. He still gets stressed, but overall is better.

I figure if we chose homeschooling to be structured & strict we should just go back to public school :)

Another mom I know, uses a recording feature on the iPad so that assignments are dictated. I also found an online curriculum (Time4Learning) where the lessons are short & some are games.

4quivers
02-14-2012, 06:47 PM
I agree with your DD. Numbers and letters don't mix!!!! Although since I will have to teach it someday, I'll need to find out how it works!
I say go with the flow. I have a DS just turned 8 and has never read a book. He could be considered ADD but I don't believe in putting labels on people. He just fought and fought. Finally I gave up and let him win. All I do now is when we go to the library I try to help him find books on subjects that appeal to him. Believe it or not, he is now teaching himself to read! To learn higher math concepts, perhaps you need to find a real life situation that appeals to her in which she will need it. I know, lot's of leg work, but hey, that's what we do in the homeschool world.