It is so hard to believe that it is already the middle of January! Time really flies! To summarize our year of homeschooling in 2013, I thought I would share our best posts! We’ve posted on everything from a weather lesson to High School homeschooling and everything in between! Since, it’s easy to move on and forget exactly what we covered over time I thought it would be nice to have a little reminder! If you have an all time favorite post – I would love for you to vote for it in the comments below!
Hello everyone… drum roll please… yay! We have our guest poster with us this week to share on a topic that is dear to her heart. Homeschooling with Down Syndrome. So, without further adieu… here’s Janet…
To say homeschooling with special needs is to cover a wide spectrum of diagnoses. Even within the diagnosis of Down syndrome, there can be differences. Each child is individually different. I can share my experiences in homeschooling our daughter with Down syndrome, but it may vary for another child with Down syndrome. Yet there is still the common factor of the diagnosis and the implications that carries, such as the fact that it takes our kids with Down syndrome longer to learn new concepts and new lessons. Our children with Down syndrome are visual learners. They learn through repetition and imitation, which is best taught if you homeschool Down syndrome.
We’ve been teaching our daughter at home since Kindergarten. We also homeschool our two older children. It takes much discipline and consistency to teach our daughter with DS. We need to cover a topic or concept for several weeks or months before it becomes concrete. And even then, we still need to review a few weeks later to make sure it’s not forgotten. You know the term ‘out of sight, out of mind’? Well, that’s very true with Sam. It could take years to learn a concept that may take a typical child months or weeks to learn. At times it can be a challenge to continually teach something when it may seem like it may never become concrete. Teaching our daughter Sam has been more challenging than teaching our other two children, but it has also been the most rewarding. Not to say that teaching our other children is not rewarding. Let me explain. When we’ve been working for so long to teach her to tell time, for example, and I can see that she’s trying and she wants to succeed, but she just cannot understand how a clock works, it can be discouraging. With a typical child we can say, “Oh, they’re not ready for this. We’ll revisit this in a few months.” We cannot do that with our daughter. Though it seems like she’s not ready, we need to persevere.
In our culture today, clocks are rare. We’ve got digital clocks on our oven, our microwave, our watches and our cell phones. Yet it’s still important that she not only learn to tell time, but that she learns to add time and subtract time. And this is easier to do on an analog clock. If you have to be somewhere in two hours, what time will it be? This involves problem solving and analytical thinking, which is difficult for a child with cognitive challenges or with Down syndrome. We need to consistently practice telling time, and adding and subtracting time every day until we see that glimmer of understanding. At this point, if we miss a few days, it could mean backtracking and starting from the beginning. For fun daily practice we use educational videos and educational games and activities until we know it’s concrete. That means that we’ve missed a couple of days or more and come back to it, and she still remembers it. That’s when we say, “It’s worth it!” It’s worth the discipline and time it takes. It’s worth the extra time of research for new ways to teach a concept. It’s worth the tears…mom’s tears. Of course it’s worth it. And it’s rewarding. You see, I always tell her, “Yes, it’s hard and it’s going to take some time, but you CAN do it.” So it’s rewarding when she’s been trying for so long and I finally see that big smile when she realizes she CAN do it, and she squeals, “I did it!”
As homeschoolers, we often forgo aspects of learning for our children that we just can’t find solutions for. For many of us those things include sports, special education opportunities, and even fine arts. Yet, with a little intensive search those things can be readily available for most homeschoolers.
For elementary and high school aged children sports is often an important aspect of learning. Through sports children can learn how to function within a team, how to deal with tough spots, and how to understand that winning isn’t everything. Yet, in many cases homeschoolers have difficulty finding ways to get their kids involved in quality sports teams. Like special education, there are programs out there just for homeschoolers that can have lasting benefits. The only problem is that most of us have no idea where to look for these special programs for our homeschooled children.
Good news, I have recently found a site that is all things homeschool sports. In fact, it even has a great team locator that you can use to find a team offering organized homeschool sports in your local area. They even have homeschool sports news, newsletters, and information about college sports.
For special education needs, there are many informational sites out there are great resources. There are also some special curriculum offerings that make for superior learning opportunities for our special needs learning children.
Like most things that I have found in homeschooling, there is usually a solution to most of the issues that I’ve come across. Sometimes, I just have to look hard to find what I need. So, as you homeschool your dear ones, don’t give up when you come to a cross roads. Just take time to find a solution. It always makes the learning and experience that much more special.
Homeschooling and the special needs child are an awesome combination that gives freedom to the child to learn and study in his or her unique way. Children challenged in a vareity of ways have seen success through homeschooling.
Research has shown that children with speical needs who homeschool spedn more time son task and have greater achievement than their schooled peers.
Every child given one-on-one instruction time and an individualized program of study will show greater improvement and achievement. Children with special needs can vary greatly, from highly intensive care to simple adjustments to how you teach. Yet, with each of the labels and multiple meaning words involved in diagnosing a child with learning disabilities the child should remain the focus. Not all children will exhibit all symptoms of a particular disorder. Get to know your child and how they tick. The child should always be the focus of the homeschool… not the disorder or disability.
Here are a few homeschool resources to help you teach your special needs child:
1) Parents should be cautious about signing the doctors papers regarding the diagnosis of their child. Often this paperwork will include requirements regardin the education of special needs children.
2) Parents should be dilligent to thoroughly research their child’s disability. If possible find out everything you can and the best way to educate a child with these particular needs.
3) Parents should join a network of others with similar situations. If you can get your whole family plugged in to other families that share a similar journey, it will be a great encouragement and inspiration.