Friday, August 16, 2013

Home Schooling My Crew Pt4

I am doing a short series on home schooling of our children.  Lightly going over what I have learned over the years and a few things that have worked for each child.  If you missed   Part 1 it is here,   Part 2 here  and  Part 3 here.  This is the last post in this series.  :)  This is something that is near and dear to my heart as a mother and I am taking the time to write in order to try to encourage anyone considering it.  To show no matter who you are God will equip you.  No matter what your child's strengths and weaknesses, because of God and the love you have for your child, you will find a great way that will work for you both and actually be wonderful and enjoyable!

The first three kids I have covered our home schooling experience with, in the past few posts were Stephen, Antonio and William.  The other children I have home schooled are my nephew, when we had custody of him for three years. (10th-12th grade)  Also my three littles, Carolyn, Zeke and Elizabeth.

My three youngest are all a year apart in age!  They each came to us as an infant so they neatly piled up on us. When they were all very small I had an infant, one year old and two year old all at the same time, all special needs or medically fragile!  I have whole chucks of time I don't even really remember from those years!  Ha ha!

Because of them all being so close in age, they have sort of grown up over time as a little group.
Zeke trying to put Elizabeth's oxygen tube back on when it came off when they were playing.  A good brother.

They were kind of like virtual triplets of sorts.  So really, as they started to have schooling time, I had a mini class with just them all these years.  Which has made things easier at times.  As I could teach them all together, as the older kids worked on other things.
Carolyn has been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  Although, all kids with FAS learn differently and have different amounts of damage in their brain in different areas, she has a very hard time learning.  But, Praise God, once she understands a concept, she has it, can move on and remembers well what she has learned.  Learning is slow going but fruitful as she can build on what she has mastered.  Which is wonderful for her.  She struggles but is progressing. She can read a book and comprehend it but not read instructions and understand them.  Sequencing is very hard for her.  I have had to sit a lot with her over the years and work with her one on one to get the basics of reading, numbers and fundamental concepts.  Now she is quite independent in her learning but it takes her a long time to do each section of her work.  She works hard and eventually gets it. She is such a good student. 

Zeke is diagnosed with autism and an audio processing disorder.  He also has low tone Cerebral Palsy.  He has a VERY difficult time learning at all.  We have to repeat things over so many times and still somethings he has never grasped.  It is also hard to maintain what he has learned already, because if we don't keep refreshing over what he has learned in the past, it is gone.  He can learn something and we move onto something else and he will forget the first thing we have worked so hard to learn.  It is very hard and frustrating for him.  As he knows he should know it but can't recall it.   I want him to learn at his own pace and in a way he can enjoy.  I want him to reach his fullest potential.  He is a visual hands-on learner.  Paper work for him, gets tear stains, holes in it from erasing and crumpled up in frustration.  With his low tone CP he can not easily grade how gentle he is being with the pencil or the eraser on the paper and it ends up in a wrinkled up disaster.  We stay far away from it unless it is for handwriting or art.  :)

Even though Elizabeth is the youngest of the littles she is the easiest to teach.  The three strikes she has against her in learning are her impulsiveness, she is easily distracted and her behavior.  She can learn well from any medium.  She loves to read and reads well.  She learns well from reading.(in a story form)  She loves paper work and also likes learning hands on.  So for her I break it up and move around from thing to thing depending on her attention span for the day.  With her impulsive tendencies she will often move on to the work before understanding or comprehending the information, she read, to be asked about or tested on.  She is then  just so surprised they expect her to know the things they asked.  Hmmmmm.  And to be honest, at that point will tantrum...   After she calms down, I will have to sit with her and make her go back and read and sometimes re-read, the information many times to me and then once she slows down and tries to understand what is being said, can easily answer the questions.   With her behavior she often just does not want to comply.  So that is also why I have many ways to teach her.  If I see her starting to balk at something I switch it up while it is still my idea to change to something else before she can try to take control of the situation and feel like she has/had the control.  She has been a tricky one.

We have tried many curriculum's and programs for the littles over the years and they move to fast and are to hard for Carolyn and Zeke.  Every year when I am researching what materials to use, I prayed and prayed about it and looked high and low for something that would be a good fit for them as a group.  Year after year I would have to physically teach them and piece together a custom day and materials to fit each child's learning needs.  I tried to keep it simple and teach them all together.
Last year, I decided to teach Zeke separate as he is now so far behind the girls in his learning and abilities.  It was not fair to teach so high above him and make him frustrated or to hold the girls back.  I know that he learns best from using the computer.  I tried to find a computer based curriculum for Zeke. He learns best from engaging computer games repeated over and over again.  I used to find educational games at Zekes level for him, for on the computer.  But those were just for supplementing what we were doing and got boring for him after a while.  I was praying about it as I researched and stumbled upon a website called  I went thru the free sample lessons and then sat with Zeke to try them as well.  He absolutely loved it and stayed engaged.  Tim and I signed him up.

After the girls kept seeing him do his school work, they kept asking to do it as well.  So I tried them with the sample lessons for their grade and they loved it as well.  So now we use this program for all the littles.  It covers all subjects.  Is online on the computer.  I can set each subject to a different grade level.  So a child can be doing 4th grade English and 2nd grade math if needs be.  They can repeat a section as many times as they wish or need to.  Either so they can get a higher score or so they can understand it better.  I can check in behind them whenever I want from my computer and see if they are staying on task as it "time dates" all they do and shows me their grades.  I can print a report card at any time.  Even though this program was not designed for children with learning disabilities, it has been a very good program for our children. 

My children know that they cannot move on to the next section until they have gotten at least a score of 75 on what they are working on.   At the end of the day we check to see that the days scores are above 75 on everything and if they are, I let each child stay up after their bed time by 30min to an hour playing on the “educational playground” part of the Time4Learning program.  They think they have earned a treat, but really they are re-enforcing their education thru more educational games.  The one thing I do not like about this program is it is not Christian based so we have to discuss some things from time to time.  But over all it is a great program and has been a wonderful tool to educate the kids keeping it fun and different every day in a hands on interactive form.  Most importantly, Zeke and the girls are progressing on it and doing well with it. 

As a matter of fact, even though William does some of his work as book and paper work we signed him up so he could get in extra work in all those areas.  

We do reassess each child and what programs we are using for them yearly to make sure they are learning in the best way possible for each individual child. So all of this may change from year to year.  But this is what we are doing right now. 
We home school year round.  We choose to do this for many reasons.  One of those is the many doctors appointments and surgeries we have around here.  It is not a stress to take a week or two off for a child for surgery when I know we have so many school days in.  We also do it because if we take too much time away, the children go backwards quickly and it is very hard to get them back into the routine of it all again.  Another reason is that we have a lot of work to do around here on the farm.  When I call a work day, all the kids are so excited not to have to do schooling they love and look forward to our work days.  They all love to work in the gardens and rake leaves because they were raised doing it and living this way.  But not having to do school and getting to do those things instead, makes for a great attitude on a work day.  Also, sometimes Tim will have a day off and we will surprise the kids and take a day off and go do something small and fun away.  We can do this because we school year round. 
Another thing we do is... all week long we do normal schooling in the mornings and handwriting and paper work in the after noons but on Fridays we try to do educational board games, art or something fun.  I find it is a great way to end the week and also gives the kids an easy way to have good behavior for the day and not get Friday Night Movie Night taken away for bad behavior on that very day.  (Mostly Elizabeth :)  )
God is so good and I have been very blessed to have the freedom to educate our children still in this country we live in.  I am grateful daily for that right.  It is one of the biggest blessings of my life and theirs as well.  We are a very close knit family because of it.  I love it.  I am also very grateful to God for giving me guidance, strength and energy to do this for so many years.  God is awesome to us all the time.  

Proverbs 22:6  Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

 May the Lord God in heaven be with you now and always, as you live, learn and grow in Him.


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