Tuesday, January 17, 2006

SPD - Sensory Processing Dysfunction

Quote from yahoo group private: sensoryhomeschool 1/16/06
Sensory Processing Dysfunction (SPD) or Sensory Integration Disorder (SID)

To those that are not familiar with me my name is Terri. We have been homeschooling now for 5 years. My husband John and I have 2 beautiful girls. Our youngest is now 5y/o and was diagnosed with SPD at age 3. At age 4 she was diagnosed as gifted and expressive speech delay.

I have been keeping up with the posts but I have not really had time to reply until now. I know that sometime back some of you were talking about ways to home-school and ideas as to what to do. There are so many ways that you can home-school but I think sometimes that it is a little more challenging with a child with SPD. My oldest child now 11y/o seemed to be a breeze but I have had such a time trying to just "grab" the youngest's attention and spark her interest in any way possible.

I have spent many hours looking around trying to find something that would help me and my children so that we might attempt to get the best of both worlds. LOL

We have started a program called Time4learning. We found it at http://www.time4learning.com/ it is on-line learning program that goes up to 8th grade. It has been absolutely wonderful. We are starting our 3rd week this week and both my children love it. Instead of fighting with the youngest to attempt to do anything at all, she asks first thing in the morning to do her "school work" and I have to make her take a break. It is so animated and tells the child what to do with each step. They have it set up so that as each lesson is finished the icon, which is a star, twirls as she has completed it. This has increased her self esteem which had been lacking. I can not say that it will be this way with all children and to be honest I was a little sceptic about it working for her. They had a 2 wk trial period so I thought what the heck it is worth a try. We plan on keeping it because it is grabbing her attention and keeping it. She is learning academically and her expressive speech has been improving as well. Her eye hand coordination has gotten better from using the mouse and her listening skills have also improved because the program tells her what to do and then shows her how to do it. I do stay near her so that I can see what she is doing and sometime throw in my own stuff but it has helped me to not have so much scheduling, grading, and logging. I am really excited about the program and all that it entails.If I have a question and send them a quick email my question is answered relatively fast and they have even called me afterward to see if my issue was resolved. I am now finding more time to do some of those things that we always say we want to do in home school but never seem to find the time. I am also interested in how it might work for other children with SPD issues.

Some of the things I have set up for her while doing her lessons is I allow her to swivel the chair back and forth and she always has a stress ball in her hand. As long as she fidgets she seems to do much better. They do sell fidgets at some of the on-line stores but I find that most anything can be a fidget it you think about it.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Homeschooling - Getting Started

Welcome to the Homeschool world. Getting Started Homeschooling.

About half of Time4Learning's members (and the more vocal half) are homeschool families. Many parents often ask for our advice on getting started on homeschooling. So here are our thoughts based on our experiences:

Overall, we hear that families who choose to homeschool usually find it to be one of the best decisions that they've ever made. But, this does not mean that it is easy to get started, that it is for everyone, or that you should do it forever. It does mean that for parents who have become convinced that their child would benefit from a change and who have soberly considered the alternatives, finally making the plunge into homeschooling is a fun exhilarating experience. Note that many parents who have homeschooled a child for a few years also talk about the decision to put the child back into school as another great decision. My conclusion: many parents have the right instincts for their child but they tend to postpone making some of these life changes so that when they do make them, they feel very right.

1. Plan to speak to at least half a dozen homeschoolers as you get started. The reason is that the homeschooling community is broad, diverse, and passionate. You will find some people with whom you do agree and others that you do not. Expect to be compatible with maybe about half the people that you speak to and if you start with half a dozen, the odds are strong that you'll find a few that you like. Ask them what they do and what they recommend. Try to find local families who you can share ideas & activities with on an ongoing basis. These groups of homeschool families are a key to success. As over two percent of the population homeschools, you become part of a large, dynamic and diverse community. Try to find people that you are comfortable with. If you don't have personal contacts, try asking locally or searching online for local groups (try google - your city name - homeschool support groups) or look at of the top homeschooling sites . Again, don't be put off that some of these groups are a poor fit for you. Homeschool groups come in all shapes and sizes: large or small, formal or informal, religious or not, special needs oriented or not, conformist or not, etc etc. Pick the ones that you are comfortable with: you will have to search through several groups. Also, you'll find that alot of the online guides are somewhat out-out-of date and full of dead links and emails or phone numbers that don't answer.

2. There are fantastic websites with oodles of articles, recommendations, forums. I would recommend blogs as also a great way to get information and to meet people. To find ones, you can type into the Google search engine: "blog homeschool yourstate". I just typed in "homeschool blog iowa" and found dozens of people from all over the state with children of all different ages and approaches (Christian, non-religious, special needs). You might also type in a special interest such as: "homeschool blog dyslexia" and find a group of people with a specific interest that you could discuss common issues with. You can also look on the big web sites such as http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/, http://www.homeschool.com/, and http://www.thehomeschoolmagazine.com/. They are rich with information but you will probably find them overwhelming at first so don't get discouraged. There are also conventions and get togethers which are definitely overwhelming but can be very exciting and informative.

3. . Be sure to check out your State's legal requirements. http://www.hslda.org/laws/default.asp is a great guide with links to local sites and to local support groups.

4. Decide on a basic approach. There are many ways to think or go about adopting a basic approach. While there is alot of literature and sites on this subject, Time4Learning suggests including some thoughts about the most immediate and mundane: the organization of the day. Most children do best with a day that has a predictable schedule with diverse activites and which provides for time when you are totally attentive to them and time when they have some separation from you and some freedom. For instance, the morning might be:

8:30-8:45 Opening of Day - Perhaps some rituals and a review of the day's schedule
8:45-9:15 Parent & One Child Working together in core curriculum, ex Reading or handwriting
9:15 - 945 Child working independently - perhaps art
9:45-10:15 Break & Snack

10:15 - 10:45 Time4Learning Math
10:00 - 11:15 Time4Learning Playground
11:15 - 12:00 Educational Play with manipulatives

5. Accept that you will need to integrate the right materials for your children. One of the challenges of homeschooling education is selecting a curriculum that meets the needs of each child. Many families find that what fits one child, may not fit another, or that what worked well one semester, may feel stale and stop working the next. Or in some cases, what works for one child in one subject, does not work for the same child in another subject. Well, nobody said it was going to be easy. What most families discover is that their children's educational needs cannot be met by a single curriculum or medium. And that blending several homeschool programs and approaches can increase effectiveness. Some parents use Time4Learning as supplementary, others use Time4Learning is the primary homeschooling curriculum. Time4Learning has curriculum for homeschool children from Preschool through eighth grade. Time4Learning provides a comprehensive language arts and math curriculum.

We suggest being skeptical about any program which claims to be THE COMPLETE RESOURCE for all children. Each child's needs are different. And program, either online, video, or text-based should be the entire homeschool program, especially for younger children. Its important that young children have daily work with:
- writing and drawing to develop fine muscle skills
- maniplatives
- arts program
- speech development
- socialization
and other areas that the computer or video or workbooks cannot address.

6. Special Needs - All children are special needs. Period. Of course, if you have decided to pull your children from school, you are probably wrestling with this question in one of its many forms. Stay tuned for the next article which helps parents understand more about their child's own special strengths, needs, learning styles, and issues.

7. Learn about learning. As the teacher & curriculum specialist for your child, you should understand the basics of learning to read, a solid math education, how children learn

Parenting Teens Online

New article in the works:

Check out my thoughts on younger kids internet safety.

I'm writing a similiar article for publication on preteens and teens. The issues start with safety but also include work habits and productivity.

Example: most children share homework help at age 15 thru IM with their classmates. While common, this needs some management and thought. Starting with the fact that most IM discussions cross back and forth from gossip and drivel, but to homework, and back to silliness. Meanwhile, the homework's not done & the hour is getting late.

I believe in some discussions with the kids (not in the heat of the moment), lots of understanding of what they feel (I was impressed by "How to talk so children will listen" which says you need to start acknowledging and accepting that people have feelings. They turn-off the instant you tell them what they should feel. Our feelings are not for others to tell us about: they are ours.), some basic behavioral self-monitoring tools for them, and in many cases, parental monitoring (guide to tools to be included....

Send me your thoughts (which I will use in my article) -

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

HomeSchool Parent Curriculum Review

"We have been home schooling for 5 years now. I started with my oldest daughter who is now 11 years old and is on a 6th grad level when she was 5 years old and in the 1st grade. My youngest daughter who has just recently turned 5 is just now showing signs of interest in learning to read etc.She begs me from the second her eyes are open to do her "school work" , which of course is Time4 Learning. She ,however, is what the school system would label a special needs child. She is gifted and has borderline ADHD, and Sensory processing dysfunction. The fact that it keeps her attention and allows her to go at her own pace is wonderful.

I have sat on the board of our local home-school support group ...

I have searched the world over looking for that perfect curriculum or program that fits my child and now children individually. Ok so maybe not the world but I have searched for 5 years now relentlessly. I can tell you that this program alone has been what I have been looking for. I realize that it has been less than a week since we started using Time4Learning but it has been wonderful for both of my children who have two very different learning styles. I am so thankful that I found you and that you go up to 8th grade. I am excited that you are going to offer a forum or blog in any sort of fashion as I can see that too really taking off. I think it is going to be great and can not wait to start using it.
One thing that I have learned in home-schooling my children is that you need support and help in many different areas. ...