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Cotton Towels & Autism

My 13 year old notices everything, so he’s always doing SOMETHING.

Something to help. Something to get. Something to ask. Something to give. Something,  to avoid doing other things.

But always something.

I’m over at The Homeschool Post today, talking about Autism, cotton towels, and kids who can’t tune anything out. April is Autism Awareness Month!

Join me?

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categories: Special Needs Kids

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Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: Being Your Kids’ Advocate Means Finding Resources That Help Them Succeed

I know it’s been quiet around here. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say. It’s more like I am trying to figure out HOW to say everything. I’ve been inundated with life again. and that usually causes me to withdraw a bit until I get it all sorted out. This is the same.

God is the one who set everything in motion for us to begin homeschooling. He knew we would have a child who struggled with school. He knew that someone would give me a book about homeschooling. And he knew that once I read it, a new path would begin. I never realized what an undertaking it would be… not in a million years.

Changes: Being Your  Kids' Advocate Means Finding Resources That Help Them Succeed

Beginning homeschooling right off with a child who struggled was challenging. Starting over again with our “Round 2 Kids”, again with learning challenges and developmental disabilities, has been even more challenging. The major question being that, this time around, how I can quantify what my son knows—what I know that he knows—when he in nearly incapable of producing written work?

And what is written schoolwork but the PROOF that he has earned those high school credits that I need put on a transcript. Thus, my current dilemma and what led me to what we’re doing now.

Sometimes as parents we have to make the hard decisions. In the case of kids with special needs, we often have to make VERY hard ones. This is one of those cases. I can advocate or speak up for my kids all day long, but if I’m not willing to go the extra mile and find those resources that help them be successful, what good is it? This is why the boys are now attending classes one day per week at a local homeschool extension program– a Parent Partnership Program.

Yes, we’re still homeschooling, although I feel like we’ve gone to The Dark Side.

I know I said I wouldn’t “go there” again. Yes, I know it is pretty highly regulated. I also know that my boys’ needs will be met from here on out in the area of receiving CREDIT for what they know. D1’s disabilities aren’t out of the ordinary, and they are workable using a few programs that they have available to their students. They have great online courses through Compass Learning, aka Time4Learning.

D1 will get his credits and will graduate.

For a kid on the Autism Spectrum, who can’t write things down or even take notes like most kids can, this is huge. Huge.

The Advisor they assigned us is a part-time teacher at the school, a Christian, and a homeschool mom herself. She homeschools her own kids while she works part time at the school. She helped me design a curriculum package just for my sons and their own special needs.

She has helped me troubleshoot some struggles D2 is having, and some workarounds for those. In short, this lady is helping me and I think right now if I didn’t have it I’d be inclined to let too many things slide. Because lemme tell ya, things have been hard around here lately. Really hard.

They are both taking middle school level Physical Science online, as well as Social Studies. In D1’s case this means World Geography, and D2 is hitting Ancient World History again. D1 is enjoying both. D2 isn’t a ‘book’ type kid but he’s tolerating. We are still using BiblioPlan but it isn’t written into their official Learning Plans, for obvious reasons.

I had them each take a reading and math assessment to find out where they are, and found we have some things that need addressing. I’m looking forward to seeing some progress in those areas. We found language arts materials, CoreSkills Writing and Reading, that will help fill in the gaps for the remainder of this year. The books received good reviews at Rainbow Resource. We will opt out of the state mandated assessments this year, as the ones they already took are acceptable substitutes, according to the school.

So that’s where we’re at. The boys are also taking some really great classes (read: ASD Science Geek’s dream classes) one day per week, too. Classes like Repairs (fixing broken things), Reverse Engineering (taking apart electronics, appliances, etc, harvesting the parts and creating new things!), Rocketry (guess how many rockets have landed on the school roof?! Too many!! lol), PE, and Creative Writing. Next year they are looking forward to Barista class, and commercial bakery. They have so many awesome options!

Now I take Wednesday and use it to work for Blessings Under the Bridge, as we are stepping up their online presence and moving them into the 21st Century. :)  Oh and I tackle Mt. Laundry too.

Necessary Disclaimer: What works for my family may not work for your family. This is in no way an endorsement for parent partnership programs as a whole or in part, nor is it my recommendation that you quit homeschooling and start doing this. It is just what we have found will work best for our family, and our boys, with their particular special needs. No condemnation will be given or received. I will delete negative comments.

Secondary Note: The image used in my title graphic are of my “Round 1 Kids” back in 1999, now ages 22, 19, and 22. Weren’t they cute?! They survived. I survived. :D

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The Differences Between Math Curriculum

This one is “Mastery-based” and that one is “Spiral”. Do you know the difference? Getting math figured out can be frustrating and confusing! Today I’m over at The Homeschool Post discussing the different types of math curriculum, and which helps what type of kid. Click the graphic to go there!

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categories: Homeschooling

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Weather Unit Resources

With winter hanging on for another couple of months here in the Northwest, and spring right after, we have plenty of weather yet to look forward to. In the past two weeks alone, we have had extreme cold down to –4* and 8” of snow, to 30mph winds of 45* that melted everything and caused a lot of flooding. This is the perfect time to do a unit on weather! It is always interesting and can be really fun and hands-on for the kids.

 Weather Fun & Games for Kids

Resource Websites

There are so MANY websites with helpful things for unit studies. This is just a small selection of the great sites out there, but some of the best, in my opinion.

Weather Unit Resources at HomeschoolShare.com

Climate Kids NASA’s eyes on the earth.

National Geographic Kids has lots of games, videos, and interactive weather resources.

KidStorm: All About Storm Chasing at SkyDiary.com

National Weather Service Government weather tracking site

Science For Kids Weather experiments, projects, and games

NeoK12 Educational Videos, Lessons & Games

Music

I love incorporating multi-sensory experiences into unit studies. Did you know that when things are set to music, kids are better able to absorb and remember them? Even dry random facts are easier when memorized with music! My favorite weather related music for the younger kids is from weatherman Nick Walker, “The Weather Dude”. You can download his CD Sing A Long with the Weather Dude from Amazon.

Videos

Forces of Nature videos at National Geographic Kids

Amazing Weather 60 Minutes of amazing weather footage from Discovery Channel (YouTube links lead to other videos. Parents please be aware of what your kids watch.)

Experiments

Steve Spangler Science Weather Experiments are some of the BEST!

Weather and Seasons Science Projects at How Stuff Works

Games

There are no shortage of educational games online, and there are a good assortment of weather-related ones. Let your kids have fun while learning! Great for reinforcement of concepts or to illustrate something that is difficult to understand.

Tornado Chase at Discovery.com

Weather Whiz Kids Games and Puzzles

Tornado Quiz at National Geographic Kids

Interactive Weather Maker at Scholastic.com

BrainPop Weather Games (Subscription required after initial trial)

The Young Meteorologist Game helps prepare kids for extreme weather.

I hope that you find fun things to add to your weather unit. If you find something really cool that I don’t have listed here, leave me a comment with a link. I’d love to add more!

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Tech-Based High School

It’s hard to believe that the first of our “Round 2 Kids” will be a 9th grader next year.

A High Schooler. Yikes! And his brother is just a quick two years behind him.

It happens so fast. They were just  toddling around my house last week, pulling all the cushions off the couch and playing “Timber!”, falling off the couch on to the cushions with hysterical laughter. These boys will soon be moving into their own lives. What I’m struggling with is how to get them there.

techbased

How, when I know that he has an amazing factual auditory memory, will I quantify high school credits when he is unable to produce the paper trail that proves it?

This is the question of the week.

And his brother, without the elephant-like memory but with plenty of school smarts (and a hefty case of dysgraphia), in a similar situation… HOW? How do we do this? The only answer I’ve come up with is digital curriculum.

I have a category over in my sidebar, “Tech School”. That’s what I’m talking about. My search for technology-based applications to solve our education issues isn’t new. I’ve long known that this medium is what works the best for both of my boys. Where would we be without years of great spelling help from Spelling City, or the math curriculum that JUST WORKS, Teaching Textbooks, and the amazing, wonderful WonderMaps software?

Technology and these boys go together “like peas and carrots”, as Forest Gump would say.

What has just recently occurred to me though is that a tech-based program is really the only way they will be able to show what they know, short of being in school full time and probably having an IEP to go along with it. That’s not really an option.

Digital Curriculum

I have been searching high and low for resources and I’ve found quite a few! Some I’d never heard of before. Others, I’ve used in the past. A few I did know of, but hadn’t had the time/money/desire/need to try them out. I’m still on the hunt for them.

One huge disappointment is that good, Christian options are limited. As in, nonexistent. The only Christian program I’ve found is Alpha Omega’s Switched on Schoolhouse, or Monarch, which is SOS but online rather than on CD/stored on your computer. They serve their purposes for some families but they are not interactive enough for these guys.

Interactivity is the key here. Textbooks on a screen with questions to answer are not what I would call interactive.

I’m compiling sites to look at and test out. We may very well make this move now, while we’re at the mid-point of our year. The only thing I know for sure is that since we’re back using Teaching Textbooks, it’s not broken so we’re not fixing it. It works for them. Everything else is open!

I asked about this yesterday on Google+ too. (Are you on Google+? You should circle me! I spend more time there than Facebook.)

So tell me, what are your favorite interactive curriculum programs for Jr. High and High school? Throw them all at me!

categories: Homeschooling, Special Needs Kids, Tech School

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