Find Your Fit

Recently I shared some ideas on how to Tailor-make your curriculum.  Just as when you buy your children’s clothes, you may sometime need to try a size smaller or larger to get the best fit, so, too, it is with finding the right fit for your child’s homeschool curriculum.

Your child’s age is often a starting point, however your child may need to begin at an earlier grade, or stay on a level longer than the professional calculated for the average child. Your child may need to skip over a grade where he finds work too easy in order that he finds the level that stimulates and challenges him.

This individualization should be the practice in every classroom, but the school system usually focuses on the average child and so the more gifted or special-needs child often fall through the cracks.  Because homeschooling is a one-on-one education, it is far easier for a parent to find the perfect fit for their child.

You are tailor-making your child’s learning experience – read more Tailor made and Offer a learning buffet  and Tailor-make your curriculum.

I urge you to customize your curriculum and subjects for each child.

Some of the most challenging subjects that require individualization are
Reading, Writing and Maths.  This post has quite a few links to my archives.  Please bookmark them to read later if you don’t have time today.)

Reading

  • Teach your child their phonics so that they know how to sound out every letter in the alphabet and then combination letters called blends.
  • Use flashcards, charts and picture games to practice and master phonics.
  • Find a series of early readers that are both entertaining and interesting and which contain almost all the words your child can sound out and read.
  • Use partnered reading where your child sits on your lap are next to you, and you whisper in their ear as they read and sound out their words.  You can see that we use a ruler or pointer to help with tracking along the sentence.
  • Read more about partnered reading technique I used with my youngest child — Partnered Reading Helps Improve Reading and Partnered Reading ~ moments I treasure and Slow learner Joys discovered.

Writing 

  • Don’t fret/ push/ demand/ panic if your child isn’t ready to write out his own narrations / or write neatly.
  • Keep on assisting him and encourage oral dictations, recorded narrations or dictated narrations, or traced over or printed dictated narrations. The vital skill of narration is being practiced and the writing will come later.  Read about being your child’s Narration Scribe
  • Gently encourage your child to write an opening sentence and then the concluding sentence. Work on developing 3 sentences that form a paragraph.  Before long he will be doing more and more of his own written narrations.
  • Use a word bank  or textmapping to help your child remember their ideas.
  • Find an alternative activity that your child enjoys instead of the prescribed narration – there are so many options and alternatives!  Purchase my Narration Ideas booklet with over 100 ideas and options instead of just writing!
  • Writing is such an important skill that you should find a way for your child to present his thoughts and understanding with narrations because Narrations show you what he knows.

Mathematics

  • Mathematics is a very important subject and it is vital to find the right level and pace and approach for each child.
  • Swap or add another Maths book if the course your child uses progresses too quickly.  Look for an exercise or book that offers more practice lessons, or one that provides more visual or practical work.
  • Use concrete apparatus for as long as is needed.  Work with beads, blocks, number lines, counting fingers or whatever helps your child.  It really doesn’t actually matter how long your child needs these “props”.  If it helps, then use them!  Don’t shame your child or let him believe that he is immature.  Make physical apparatus options available.
  • Gently encourage your child to do the same activity again without the physical apparatus and teach him how to picture the blocks or bead in his head.  It may just suddenly ‘click’ and he will be able to continue his work without the objects.
  • Maths butterfliesEncourage Maths drills with games and mental Maths worksheets.
  •  Use different approaches as and when needed, for example, use blocks, flashcards, use number lines, and or computer games to teach, practice and master a concept.
  • Work for mastery — you want your child to feel a sense of confidence.  Maths is a very emotionally charged subject for some children.  Don’t give up at a point of anxiety or stress.  Look for creative ways of doing the work so that your child feels good about themselves.

Time

  • Start by stretching out a one-year curriculum over 18 months to provide a wide margin of time to enjoy themes and topics that your children enjoy, time to take detours or take longer scenic stops.
  • Continue working longer on any concepts to practice and fully master a skill.
  • Read about my experiences extending time on a curriculum — Re-using Sonlight and doing it differently and Best Homeschooling Decision-More Time .

In every subject, in every grade, adjust your course to suit your child’s interests, ability and pace.  Try find the balance between challenging and mastery, gently increasing the work load and difficulty, but allowing for their sense of “I can do it!”

Blessings as you find your fit, Nadene

 

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Slow learner Joys discovered

It is possible to experience joy when teaching a slow learner.  Let me encourage you and share my experience of how I discovered joy instead of anxiety.

If my youngest child had been in regular school, she would certainly have discovered that she took a lot longer than her peers to learn.  In those fragile years, I’m sure she would have been labeled a “slow learner”.   But instead, in the privacy and comfort of our home, she flourished at her own pace.

It came as a shock to discover that my very young child couldn’t remember nursery rhymes. Despite daily repetition, the words floated past her memory and she could only tell me the theme of the rhyme, but not the words themselves.  “Auditory memory issues?” my remedial-teacher brain whispered.  Then, I discovered quite by chance, that if she acted out the nursery rhyme she remembered it well. “Okay … she’s a kinesthetic learner.”

Learning the alphabet took much longer than with my other kids at her age.  Maths skip counting missed beats, and learning to read seemed to take forever.  She desperately wanted to read.  It was this inner drive that kept her working and working on her skills.   I must add that this is what is quickly lost in school systems!  Kids feel shame and fear and lose their love to learn.   They dread being exposed and hide or avoid reading in any form.

But safe at home, daily she would come to me with her little readers to read to/ with me.    I learnt to slow things down to the place where she flourished … partnered readingme whispering the words in her ear as she pointed and sounded out the words. This went on for ages. I just kept sitting with her on my lap reading with her for months and months and months.

And then, one day, she simply took off! And my emerging reader became an independent reader! We were both overjoyed!

20161006_162405My youngest daughter is now 14 years old and is an avid reader of adult classical books.  She has her own collection of classic books, preferably hard covers, that she scouts for at secondhand book stores, and she reads and re-reads these every moment she can.

If my hubby hadn’t kept me in check, I probably would have taken my child to a therapist to evaluate her and start some remedial program, but, instead, in faith, we simply followed her pace and allowed her to learn as she was ready.

Shawna writes in a recent post on Simple Homeschool “In celebration of the slow learner“,

“I think it is infinitely more important that our children feel confident in their ability to learn something, than in how long it may or may not take to actually learn it.  Speed has never been the goal. Mastery, progress, confidence – these are all things that take time, and that are worth the wait.”

May I urgently suggest that you homeschool your struggling slow learner.  Bring them home and save them the misery and shame of failure and labelling.  Do it now!  Don’t wait for the end of year or a term.  Homeschooling allows you to tailor-make their education experience.  Aim to relax.  Follow a gentle pace.  Don’t fret about “trying to catch up”.  I want to state this with absolute confidence — your child will learn when they are ready.

Secondly, if you feel the need to have your child evaluated, pray for and look for a remedial therapist with compassion, humour and patience.   Ask other parents how they and their children feel about the therapist before taking your child to their first session.  And in my experience, this is not a permanent situation.  Remedial therapy is a temporary help to overcome weaknesses.  As your child improves, she will not require therapy.   Don’t fall into the trap of doing hours of boring, dull, repetitive remedial exercises.  Don’t allow your child to feel like she has “a problem”.  Worse still, don’t allow them to feel that they are a burden.

Most importantly — pray.  The Lord showed me how precious and special my child was just as she is and not as I felt she should be.  I learnt to trust Him and follow His lead.  His joy and boundless love for her enabled me to love and nurture my child.

Mom, do not fret about your slow learner.  Do not weep.  This is your special gift … to learn to love uniquely.  To love without fixing.  To love without wanting to change someone. To love patiently, with hope.  Such love never fails.

Praying for you … for much grace, courage and strength!  Blesssings, Nadene

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Partnered Reading ~ moments I treasure

Children grow up so quickly!

Those baby cuddles and snuggles make way for other intimate moments …

Reading together is a moment I treasure with each of my young children.

Here I am with my youngest.

My last learner-reader.

She WANTS to read, but it hard for her.

Harder than it was for any of my other children.

While I am conscious that this is “hard work” for her, I am glad we can do this together.

We cuddle together on the carpet,

and in her bed at bedtime. (She insists we read another book together at night.)

Or we snuggle in a sunny spot on the couch during the cold winters.

She sits, relaxed and supported in my lap.

My lips caress her ear, now and then whispering the sound or word.

She points to the words.

Or maybe she pushes her bookmark along under the sentence.

We laugh at silly Frog and ToadAmelia Bedelia or Owl as the tales unfold.

She looks at the pictures.

She looks for clues to the story.

In fact she can ‘read’ the story just by looking at the pictures.

We go on a journey.

Just the 2 of us.

It is intimate,

precious.

Soon she will read well enough to read alone.

Then she may snuggle next to me as I read aloud, but these are moments to remember.

I am so glad we homeschool.

Related  Post:

What moments do you treasure?

Blessings,

Partnered Reading Helps Improve Reading

Reading is a complex process and most young children need a certain level of maturity to master the skills required to read fluently and with comprehension.

Some children struggle with reading and many experience frustration learning to read well on their own.

A very successful method of  assisting a slow or reluctant reader is

partnered reading. 

What is partnered reading?

Basically, this method uses an advanced reader who sits shoulder to shoulder, or with the younger  reader on their lap. (I use the word “younger” in place of “weaker/ beginner” reader.)

The advanced reader reads the passage first, and assists the younger reader sound out or read the passage.

An older brother or sister, granny or extended member of the family can help the young reader in the same way.

Very young children are happy to sit on mom/ dad’s lap and read together. Reading should be an intimate and enjoyable time.

I found that my youngest child was far more relaxed sitting on my lap than next to me.   When on my lap, she would breathe with more ease and not squirm as much when she battled with her reading. I loved the security and comfort that I could give her just by cuddling her as she battled through her decoding.

What does the partner do?

The advanced reader must read  the passage aloud (in a normal voice)  to the child first.  This helps the young reader recognize the words when they re-read the passage.

The younger child then reads as the advanced reader whispers the same words right near the young child’s ear.

The young reader should read aloud a  little louder than the helper.  They will hear the slight whispered echo and this confirms what they are reading.

If  the younger reader battles to read a word, the helper assists decoding (breaking up the word and sounding each phonic sound out), he/she should point to each letter and sound the letters out.  Encourage the younger reader to sound it aloud with the helper and let the young reader say the decoded phonic sounds fast and “put it together”. (e.g.: “ss …aa … tt… = sat” )

The next day the young reader reads the same passage with the help of the partner.

The same passage or reading section must be practiced for several days.

In this way, the young reader reads with more confidence and fluency.

Of course, if the child become bored with the section or has just memorized the passage, go on to a new passage.

If the child makes more than 3 errors in a sentence, or still struggles with decoding, but has repeated the passage for several days, just move on and get on with the story.  Boredom will add to the sense of frustration.

Add some remediation activities in your schooling schedule.  (Phonic skills, letter recognition games, matching letters, blending sounds, flashcards etc.)  If your child still makes no progress after some time, he/she may need professional assessment.  Sometimes, an occupational therapist can give excellent therapy exercises which greatly improve reading skills.  Check your child’s eyes.  Many reading problems are wonderfully “solved” when all the child  needed was glasses.

Practical tips:

The child should hold the book while they read.

Place the book on a pillow for added comfort and better posture.

The beginner reader should point under each word as he reads.

Some children benefit by using a narrow cardboard strip as a row marker and cover the passage below the one they are reading.  This strip helps prevent the child “getting lost”.  It can also be used to help tracking (moving  just the eyes [and not the head]  from left to right.)

After reading:

Talk about the pictures.

Let the young reader tell you the passage in their own words.

Ask them what they think will happen next.

Ask them to tell you the most important part of what they just read.

Ask them to draw the story.

Ask “why” questions.

Comprehension is the most important aspect af all reading.  After all, we read to understand and learn.

I found this interesting article by examiner.com~

“If it’s true that children ‘learn to read’ from kindergarten through third grade and ‘read to learn’ from third grade through high school, then it stands to reason that those first few years of school are among the most important in a child’s life in terms of his or her academic future.

The bottom line? Parents have a near-sacred responsibility to read to their children — not occasionally, but DAILY. Reading aloud, pointing to pictures that represent the words being spoken and vice-versa, talking about the story — it’s all good, no matter how many times the giant falls down the beanstalk.  And the example you set for your child by taking the time out to do this, will pay off many times over.”

While most the resources I found on the internet refer to school classroom methods, partnered reading works perfectly at home.

Here are some references:

An excellent pdf document on partnered reading by ala.org

A pdf document on partnered reading by Texasreadingdl.edb

Read the article Helping Your Slow Reader at Heart of the Matter Online.

Reading Partners.org describe reading programs and its importance.

Reading Rockets describes partnered reading in their program.

(I do not endorse any program or web site.  These are some of the useful sites I found when I researched this topic. 🙂 )

What other partnered reading tips do you have?