View Full Version : Hi! New here and need advise for, well, everything. AnxietyADD/Dysgraphia especiall

12-06-2012, 01:11 AM
So glad I found this place!!! I just don't relate to the uber religous hs'rs.

So I need all kinds of advise thoughts, I'll try my best to make this not be a novel...but I talk a lot, so yea, I type a lot!

I have 3 kids, the middle one, 11 yrs boy 5th grade, is really struggling. They all go to a private (really great) school. But 5th grade is really taking it's toll on Tyler.

He's always been a sensitive kid. He's very social, has no problem making friends, is very sweet and good, most of the time! I've always suspected a LD or ADD or both with him. He is a mini-me. I have ADD, currently unmedicated and doing my own form of behavior modification.

His biggest struggle is with anxiety though. Which in turns makes his reading comprehension issues much much worse. He is in the process of seeing a psychiatrist that specializes in LD/Dyslexia/ADD etc to help him learn how to deal with his anxiety.

Soooo really long story made a tiny bit shorter, there are few things I'm wondering.

He does SO much better with retention when activities are computer based vs. book based. We think this may have something to do with how he sees the words on the page...I am apparently slightly dyslexic and he may be also (he's getting tested soon). I can't retain information when it comes to reading in books either, it's actually painful. The words kind of swirl on the page. But don't on a computer screen. Writing with a pen/pencil is also an issue, it's very very tireing for him, but typing is fine. He hates L.A. though. A book report earlier this year at school put him in a huge anxiety ridden state for a week until he found out it was a powerpoint presentation. But the thought of writing or typing a report about a books drives him insane. He just can't retain the info he reads unless he's EXTREMELY interested in the subject. I want him to be better at reading and comprehending than I ever was, which is not setting the bar to high haha, so I want him to learn how to write for future careers and such.

So with that in mind we are doing a heavy pc based curriculum. (t4l, k5 etc) With lots of "hands on". We are both visual/kinesthetic learners.

Here's my question(s), there are subjects like history, social studies etc that he is EXTREMELY disinterested in, as was I (did I mention he's a mini-me?). How deep/how much do we have to dive in these subjects that literally give him anxiety attacks, which in turn turns into actual physical pain in his soft palette due to him trying not to cry. I also LOATHED those subjects, I barely passed them out of shear boredom. I have not ONCE used them, nor do I plan to. I can see him going the same way. So is there an absolute minimum he has to learn to be able to make through ms/hs? He's not going to be a historian or anything, soooo what's the point? He doesn't need them for tests like SATs and such.

Also, I want to go heavier on the math/science and such. He really likes building stuff and is great in math, but saxon math (what's he doing now) is just frustrating him, as are the word problems (there's that comprehension issue again). I am great in science so I know he can excel in both of those. He also loves to build stuff (I like dissasembling stuff, no vacuum is safe with me! haha)..the last two days he's made a pen 'gun' and a pen "bow and arrow" out of a few pens and rubberbands. He's not so much into lego's anymore, but will play with them. He likes to build "useful" things. Like a chair, or bowl or clock etc. I can see him going far in engineering or things like video game/software development...when I told him that there are people that get paid well to do video games, he was shocked and just lit up. Like you can get PAID to make video games!! lol

So what are the minimum amounts of curriculum, not necessarily minimum amount of time cause he'll need more time to comprehend than the avg student, that are needed for 5th grade??

Also, are there any good computer visual based curricula out there that don't rely heavily on reading comprehension other than t4l and k5learning? Now I know that many HSers prefer to not use computers, but I have to use what he learns best with!

I'm sure there's sooo much more I need to ask! Mind mine is spinning! I have one month to put his next semester together for home, plus adding some summertime homeschooling to hopefully get him ahead of the game.

Oh, I'm in WA State is that helps answer any ?'s!

12-06-2012, 12:24 PM
You certainly dont have to go heavy in to history. but fwiw, i HATED history in school, and I rather enjoy it now. You can find creative ways to cover history. Pick world or US history and find some documentaries to watch. Or pick a subject you like and study the history of that - like use Joy Hakim's Story of Science as a history . . . it IS the history of science, and touches on what was going on in the world around the scientists

for math on the computer there are ALEKs, khan academy (free), and teaching textbooks.

I dont know what your state's requirements are, you need to figure that out, but here in VA i only have to do a standardized test that covers math and english, so not such a big deal

for writing . . . i will always have to suggest bravewriter - she encourages you to work with your child at the stage of writing he is at, not at his age level. the writers jungle is a manual for how you can coach your child to write

as for anxiety . . . my son ended up on meds. Made a huge difference and we dont regret it.

and while a lot of ppl think they'll take their kid out of school temporarily, just to deal with a crisis and get caught up - chances are you both will be so thrilled with how much better he is doing that you will decide to homeschool longer . . . but of course every family is different

12-06-2012, 01:03 PM

I checked out BW...looks very interesting to me! I saw a post about getting those kids that hate to write, and I think I can do that! For him it's the thought of writing sentences/paragraphs that freaks him out. I get it, his thoughts are all over the place, just don't know where he gets that from ;) lol, so it's hard to put it in a sequential order.

What about actual handwriting? Does he HAVE to do a ton of that? His handwriting is awful, as is mine. I never write by hand. They used to make me do handwriting practice to make it look better, I wanted sooooo badly to write like the other girls, you know the bubbly pretty handwriting, but I just can't no matter how hard I try, my handwriting is very erratic and hard to read. I bought him some mechanical pencils with a curved grip on the tip, he really likes those they don't "hurt" his hand as much and it slows his handwriting down because he'll break the lead if he writes like he does with a regular pencil or pen.

12-06-2012, 05:07 PM
there is no 'has to' in home schooling. I focus on making progress in every area, and at some point, that means learning to touch type. My older one asked to do some cursive last summer, and right now i'm making my younger one re-write words during spelling if he is too sloppy - i think he has the potential for neat handwriting (ok, he's only printing tho) if he cares enough. he was very late to speak/read/write. But thats the thing - you cant MAKE them learn something they arent ready for, and you do no favors by reviewing what they already know. My older one came out of school with serious issues we needed to address, so i focused on that for a while

its a hard adjustment tho - learning how to teach your child instead of teaching a curriculum set out by someone else for 'average' kids

Anne S.
12-06-2012, 08:28 PM
BrainPOP - Animated Educational Site for Kids - Science, Social Studies, English, Math, Arts (http://Www.brainpop.com) has wonderful science and social studies animated video lessons. You would need to use something else as your spine, but this could provide the visual input that he needs. It's a bit expensive, but I think it's worth it.

12-06-2012, 09:14 PM
I know you say that you HATE history, but I would suggest looking up Horrible Histories....the short segments are on YouTube, the full series is available on Amazon instant view and there are a TON of books. My kids LOVE these.
My 12 year old loves the courses he has taken on Udacity (Landmarks in Physics and Programming with Python). The lectures are very appealing videos.
For math, you could look at Khan Academy (http://www.khanacademy.com) or www.elementsofmathematics.com.
We did Handwriting without Tears to learn cursive and use it just enough to not forget it.

12-07-2012, 05:29 AM
Time 4 Learning science, history, and language arts are very heavy on reading in the upper middle grades. That's something you might want to consider when choosing curriculum for him online. There's a lot of words on each screen. Not all lessons contain animation. We used it, and liked it, but found it a bit wordy still even in fourth grade.

12-07-2012, 11:58 AM
OMG, thanks everyone! So much great info!

BrainPop looks like a blast..also horrible histories! I'm going to pull up some episodes for all three of my kids and see how they like it.

Mpippin, thanks for the tip on t4l! I'll definitely keep that in mind. I have a program that reads the words on the screen to you, but not sure if it works with a flash based program. Do you have any suggestions on other LA programs? I think I can cover science fairly well on my own and just using t4l as a kickoff point and lesson plan. But LA, I could use help in that! I've got spelling taken care of though. I think I'll definitely use BW though for writing also.

I am fortunate to live near OMSI. We have a membership and they have some great classes and exhibits that change regularly, I'll have to use them more.

I am hoping to get him into a STEM school next year. We have one that just started here and is REALLY popular, but we are out of district (by a BLOCK!) so I'll have to get a boundry exception and then hope that he's in the 1-2% of out of boundary kids that gets picked in the lottery.

He showed me his pen "bow and arrow" yesterday, it wasn't what I expected, I was pretty impressed! He actually drilled/punched a hole through the tube of the pen, took a rubberband and broke it in half, took out the spring and ink section, used 2 pen caps to hold the rubberband in place, then he put the ink section through the hole, pulled back the rubberband while holding the ink part, just like you would on a real bow and arrow, and shot that thing across the room! I asked where he saw this, he said "no where, I just invented it" I love that so much. I'm that way, I come up with inventions all the time! Have you seen those floor socks that you mop with on tv? Ya, I invented those like 7 years ago! Just never did anything with it, then saw it on tv and was so mad that I didn't do anything with it! lol oh well. Mine are actually better anyway..cuter, scrub better and I can up with an entire exercise program that you can do while "mopping" the floor haha

I love this site! So much info!

12-12-2012, 12:33 AM
American Experience has great documentaries that my kids love to watch. (Grand Colee Dam was great - lots of explosions!) We also watch a lot of NOVA and NOVA Science Now. Look up the web pages for them, you can watch most of the shows most of the time. NOVA I think does the most recent ones for only a week or so, but I think you have access to past years.

If he is into weapons, how about doing a unit study on the history of weapons. I know he doesn't like to read, but there are lots of books, like the Eye Witness series that have small facts and lots of photos in two page spreads. If you have a printer/copier, have him make his own "book" of period weapons to show what he has learned.

A book that has been a great hit at our house (which it sounds like he could add to) is "Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction" It has easy to follow directions to make things like he is making. I bet he could make improvements on them.

Hmm, another series that incorporates science and history, in a visual form (don't do the book) is "Guns, Germs and Steel." It talks about one person's theory of why some cultures are "more advanced" than others. Check with your library for this series. It is about 4-8 hours total, I can't remember but was very interesting. My daughter watched it with my husband and I when she was about 5th grade. (She likes weapons too. And germs are interesting as well!)

The Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling relies a lot on narration, at least at the younger ages. My oldest son is the same age, and has difficulties with writing, so I often have him just narrate back to me what he read so that I know he understood what he read. I will also get him to draw a picture of what we read about in history, with a title. According to Charlotte, by this age they should be starting to write the narrations, but, I am not sure she had kids like ours!

12-12-2012, 09:31 AM
I have a different idea on writing: skip it (for now). At least as a formal curriculum.

IMO, book reports in the K=8 years are mainly wasted efforts and easier for the teacher of a large classroom to "grade" where the focus is really on "did they read the book" and "were they paying attention in class" with some arbitrary ratcheting up of writing rubrics for fun. Most writing "skills" I learned in those ages were either trivial or had to be unlearned when I got to high school, when formulaic reports were no longer acceptable.

What kids really NEED is to learn how to organize their THOUGHTS and synthesize IDEAS. That does not require writing. Really. That can be learned through oral presentations. Are there any Jr Toastmasters groups in your area? And skills he is already working on with you and his Dr. Why pile a lot of triggers on that? Why not ask his Dr what activities might help him learn how to better focus and organize his thoughts and learning?

I am a big fan of having kids journal (not the same as a diary) -- just getting in the habit of writing daily. If he types his journaling -- fine. Encourage him to mix things up -- write about his day, write a poem, write about the next great invention he wants to design. Once he is comfortable doing that, every so often, have him chose one story or poem or directions for building something and have him revise it -- rewrite it to make it better, clearer. Talk about what makes a better sentence/paragraph/etc as he or after he has done it.

I'm a big fan of the Michael Clay Thompson stuff, and if he likes stories and is able to create images from words and a few pictures (from a book) you might check out just Sentence Island -- it is his first level writing book but it tells the story of a fish called Mudd who goes to a place called Sentence Island to learn about what makes a good Sentence. Sounds kind of silly, but with each character he meets he learns some new dimension of what makes a sentence good and it is actually rather profound. A lot of it is rather funny and each interaction involves Mudd getting really frustrated until he "gets it". My kids absolutely adored the book, and we just sat and read a couple pages a day. I mention it because it does cover grammar and the TM has writing exercises (which you could do orally together) but few writing programs seem to really focus on the sentence. There is also one about a big visiting Paragraph Town. Of course, it could be a terrible fit for your son, but it is completely different in feel from anything else out there so I thought I'd mention it. ;) If it sounds interesting, you can check out the samples on the publisher's website and should be able to tell very quickly. LOL

As to history, I would try to find videos or programs that are interesting to your son, maybe hisotries of inventions or science? Hakim has the history of science which is science and history combined for the MS level, might fit.

Good luck to you!