August 26, 2017

Embracing Schooling "Outside the Box"




I talk to many parents who are interested in homeschooling, but they don’t know where to begin.  Many of these parents have kiddos with significant intellectual, behavioral, physical and emotional special needs.  These are parents who have been advocates for their children their whole lives.  They have gone through countless doctor appointments, therapies, IEP meetings and accommodations in order to help their child to succeed.  


Once we get to the bottom of their fears, the underlying issue isn’t that they are incapable of teaching their child, it is that they aren’t sure how to create “public school at home.”  


Homeschooling Teaching Secret
I want to let you in on a big secret: you don’t have to create public school at home!  Read that sentence again, because it truly is freeing.  You are not responsible for creating a whole classroom at your house.  


In our homeschool, the world is our classroom.  Because of the way that most of us were educated, we have a picture in our minds of what school is supposed to look like.  The picture may include things like lined-up desks, an American flag,  textbooks, workbooks, tests with fill-in-the-blank bubbles.  However, as homeschoolers we are free to let go of these constraints.  We have the privilege of teaching our child in their learning style and at their level.  


“Out of the Box” Schooling Options
I have two children with a variety of special needs including:  Down Syndrome, Apraxia, Sensory integration disorder, and Mixed Receptive-Expressive Language Disorder along with  other needs.  I use  many different resources to teach them.  


We don’t tackle every subject every day, but here are some of the things I choose from:


Math
Numicon math, Touch Math, Rod and Staff, Some great resources from Teachers Pay Teachers, Fun hands-on manipulatives by Lakeshore, Learning Resources, and many other places.  Sometimes we even tackle math by going around the house counting, adding and subtracting.  We also incorporate math into our cooking and shopping.  Math is everywhere!


English/Reading
This year we are trying to see how language rich we can make our home by using read-aloud books!  We have a couple hundred picked out for a variety of topics and some small units.  We absolutely love the picture book recommendations at the “Read Aloud Revival” and have found them to be so beneficial.  


To target phonics and sight words, I have made many of my own books (which I  offer on Teachers Pay Teachers), materials from other Teachers Pay Teachers stores, and odds and ends from other curriculums like Abeka and Happy Phonics.


Science/Social Studies
We are learning some of this through our fabulous read-alouds.  We are also enjoying nature walks and are going to attempt some nature journaling this year.  My girls also love videos and tend to remember things with catchy songs or tunes.  They LOVE “Rachel and the Treeschoolers”, “Sid the Science Kid” and I think they may eventually like “The Magic School Bus”.  


For Social Studies I purchased “Liberty Kids.” They are not quite interested yet, but I’m holding out hope for it.  We also do a lot of map puzzles geared toward geography and use some ipad apps.  


Sign Language
We love the “Signing Time” series.  While one of my daughters uses it for communication, my other daughter is learning it as a second language.


Occupational Therapy
Right now we do OT at home with things that I set up for the girls.  We  work with clay, painting, push-pin work, and coloring. This year I’m going to introduce some felt sewing and embroidery.  The girls love to watch me crochet and they want to learn, so we may attempt that as well.  


Last year was a monumental year for fine motor improvement.  I fell in love with coloring again and they wanted to join me.  I cannot pay them to do handwriting worksheets for more than 15 minutes,  but if I get out my coloring books they will color for 3-4 hours at a time.


Physical Education
They play outside!  The run, they swing, they jump on the trampoline.  We explore different parks when we have good weather and they love it.  


We target many skills and goals by shopping, cleaning, running errands and visiting with friends.  Life is about learning.  If you look at your daily activities you will find that your children are learning so much from you.  Don’t be afraid to jump outside your box, try something natural, fun and child-led and see how your children blossom. 

 

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