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Navigating Testing in Homeschooling: Insights from Our Team
Each state has its own requirements for homeschooling, and testing may play a role in meeting these requirements or tracking progress. Here's a glimpse into our team members' experiences with testing in their families: Peggy Ployhar: In Minnesota, yearly testing was a legal requirement for our homeschooling journey. While I didn't teach towards the test, it did help uncover my son's struggles with Dyslexia. Switching to a more comprehensive test revealed crucial insights that a standard test wouldn't have captured. Customize testing to fit your child's needs just like you tailor your homeschooling approach. Amy Vickrey: Though not mandated, I use testing to monitor my son's progress. The Lexile score, particularly, has been invaluable in his reading journey. Accommodations like frequent breaks and assistance with navigation ensure a smooth testing experience. Tracking growth over time helps gauge progress effectively. Dawn Spence: Transitioning from a public school teacher to a homeschool mom, my perspective on testing evolved. I informally assess my daughters through online tools and therapy sessions. Testing choices abound, offering flexibility to tailor assessments to your child's needs. Just as with homeschooling, adapt testing to suit your child. Tracy Glockle: While testing isn't my preferred method for assessing knowledge, I recognize its value as a life skill. Emphasizing test-taking strategies over academic data helps prepare my children for future assessments. Overcoming test anxiety and pacing are key areas of focus. Education is a journey, and testing is just one part of the trajectory. Testing in homeschooling serves various purposes, whether mandated by state regulations or chosen for tracking progress. By finding the right fit for your child and maintaining a balanced perspective, testing can be a positive and productive aspect of the homeschooling experience.
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Exploring Assistive Technology for Communication in Homeschooling
Assistive Technology (AT) plays a vital role in enhancing the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities, particularly those with communication challenges. Here are valuable resources to help you discover the perfect communication AT for your homeschool student. Communication AT Guides Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative: Download their comprehensive 62-page Communication Guide covering various types of communication devices, needs assessment, and product comparisons. iCommunicate Therapy Series: Delve into a series of articles providing insights into high-tech and low-tech communication AT devices, along with specific device types and user benefits. Communication AT for Children with Autism Autism Parenting Magazine: Explore their article on Assistive Technology Devices for Children with Autism, offering insights into how AT can benefit children on the spectrum and which devices work best for specific communication issues. Autism Speaks: Access their Assistive Technology for Communication Roadmap, providing guidance on assessing, selecting, funding, and training for communication devices. AT Communication Apps Friendship Circle: Discover their top 7 Assistive Communication Apps in the iPad App Store, featuring general descriptions, pricing, and customer ratings. Easter Seals Tech: Explore their article listing 6 Android Apps for Special Needs, focusing on communication AT apps suitable for Android devices. Additional Resources Pacer Center’s YouTube Channel: Dive into personal stories of children using AT devices for communication needs, offering insights and inspiration for incorporating AT into homeschooling. Assistive technology can significantly enhance accessibility and educational success for children with communication disabilities, providing them with greater opportunities in homeschooling and life.
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Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) in Children
By Dianne Craft, MA, CNHP Dr. Lendon Smith, renowned pediatrician and author, aptly describes children grappling with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) as "goosey, touchy kids." These children often feel uncomfortable in their own skin, reacting unusually to external stimuli due to an overactive nervous system. Their heightened sensitivity can make them appear at odds with their environment. Recognizing Common Symptoms Touch Sensitivity: Discomfort with clothing tags or seams Preference for soft, non-binding clothes Resistance to hair grooming or medical check-ups Auditory Sensitivity: Reactivity to loud noises Discomfort in large groups Language delays or difficulties with transitions Taste Sensitivity: Texture aversion to food Selective eating, often favoring carbs Sensitivity to food touching on the plate Identifying SPD in Children On a lighter note, here are some humorous yet relatable signs that your child may have SPD: Preparing multiple meals to accommodate sensory preferences Feeling anxious about routine visits like haircuts or dental appointments Finding comfort in wearing socks and underwear inside out Treatment Options Traditional therapies like Occupational and Physical Therapy offer valuable interventions, including specialized brushing techniques and weighted vests. Another effective approach is Brain Integration Therapy, which helps regulate the nervous system effortlessly. Exploring Alternative Treatments Natural remedies can sometimes yield surprising results. For instance, a young boy with extreme touch sensitivity found relief with a mineral supplement called Mineral Rich. This supplement, rich in magnesium, helped calm his nervous system, reducing hypersensitivity to sound. Harnessing the Power of Magnesium Magnesium plays a crucial role in soothing an overactive nervous system. While it's essential to consult a physician before introducing any supplement, options like magnesium citrate or supplements like Mineral Rich can be beneficial. Monitoring for potential side effects like loose stools is advisable. Real-Life Success Stories Stories like Izaya's, an eleven-year-old who overcame sensory struggles with targeted nutritional interventions, underscore the potential of natural remedies. With consistent support, children with SPD can experience significant improvements in their daily lives. Seeking Guidance and Support Integrative/Functional Physicians or Certified Nutritionists can provide tailored recommendations for managing SPD. Additionally, resources like Dianne's Biology of Behavior CD set offer valuable insights and alternative ideas for parents. Conclusion While Sensory Processing Disorder presents challenges, numerous resources and interventions are available to support children and their families. By exploring holistic approaches and consulting healthcare professionals, parents can empower their children to thrive despite SPD's complexities. Remember, every step toward understanding and managing SPD brings hope and progress. Disclaimer Please note that the information provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional medical advice. Consult with a healthcare professional before implementing any treatment or intervention for SPD.
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Homeschooling Twins with Autism: Creating a Routine
By Cheryl Swope, M.Ed. author of Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child and the Simply Classical Curriculum, Memoria Press. We homeschooled our twins on the autism spectrum from infancy through high school graduation. Over time, we learned that a daily schedule, even on weekends and during the summer, was essential. While our friends' children didn’t need this, our children with autism thrived on predictability and security. Here are some key elements we found helpful: Refreshing Outdoor Time Children with autism often struggle with anxiety, obsessions, and rigidity. It's essential to teach them to relax. While we carefully schedule schoolwork, chores, and therapies, we often forget to schedule time in nature. Here are some refreshing activities: Walk outside Play at a park during non-peak hours Swim Sit on the back porch swing to watch birds and squirrels Engage in light outdoor chores like pulling weeds or sweeping the driveway Conversation and Engagement When my daughter’s speech therapist diagnosed her with autism, she cautioned against long periods of isolated play and emphasized engagement. Here are some ways to keep your child engaged: Have conversations and play simple games Read books together and ask questions like, “Point to the butterfly” Create engaging games like choosing favorite artwork or wall colors while waiting Play strategy games like "Ticket to Ride" for older children Quiet Time Instilling a love of quiet can be beneficial. Start with 10-15 minutes and gradually increase. Here are some items to include: Storybooks: Board books for younger children, picture books for more able students Sturdy art supplies: Wax crayons, colored pencils, large stencils Puzzles: From large wooden ones to more intricate puzzles as they progress Relaxing music with a mat or plush blanket Field guides for older students Simple kits: Models, crafts, sewing/lacing cards Headphones with stories or poetry Companionship A willing sibling or adaptable playmate can provide companionship. Consider: Coaching with resources like Myself & Others Pets like a dog, cat, or fish for additional companionship Gardening projects, like growing pansies or cherry tomatoes, to encourage nurturing Spontaneous Fun While routines are crucial, it's also important to sprinkle spontaneous fun into the day to prevent rigidity. Ideas include: Snuggling A quick walk to get the mail Playing pretend with toys Riding a trike before dinner or picking wildflowers Refresh Yourself Most importantly, take time to refresh yourself: Enjoy quiet moments at church, in the Word, and in prayer Avoid rehearsing past troubles or discussing disturbing news in front of your child Speak with greater trust and hope, and avoid fearful language Let your children know they are in good hands and that you can create a comforting routine for them When you falter, make necessary adjustments and demonstrate resilience Inspirational Verse "Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10, my daughter’s confirmation verse.
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Why Are So Many Children Struggling with ADD, ADHD, and CAPD?
By Jan Bedell, PhD The rise in children diagnosed with conditions like ADD, ADHD, and Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) is alarming. Many kids today face challenges such as: Following directions Maintaining focus Avoiding distractions Grasping the big picture in various situations Displaying social maturity Comprehending reading material Using phonics to learn to read And numerous other difficulties Solving the Mystery from Within These struggles often lead to school challenges and medication. However, the NeuroDevelopmental Approach offers a different perspective: "Let's solve that mystery by finding the root cause of the symptoms." This means rejecting labels in favor of hope. By addressing the brain's root causes, we can eliminate symptoms. Labels like ADD, ADHD, and CAPD are merely symptomatic, given based on a checklist of symptoms. In the NeuroDevelopmental field, each symptom has an underlying cause in the brain, which can change and grow due to its plasticity, even amidst current struggles. The Shift from Auditory to Visual Society Decades ago, our education system thrived in an auditory society. Families ate together multiple times a day and engaged in conversations. Nowadays, we often eat on the go, with videos playing in our car backseats. Previously, families read together in the evenings or listened to radio broadcasts for hours, fostering auditory sequential processing through intense, frequent listening. In recent times, we've transitioned to a more visually oriented society. Understanding Auditory Sequential Processing Auditory Sequential Processing is the ability to retain and order information as it is heard. For example, retelling a story accurately in the correct sequence of events. Good auditory processing is crucial for reading comprehension, phonics-based reading, picking up social cues, following directions, and staying on task. These skills are essential for reaching our full potential in school and life. Effective processing helps avoid many symptoms that lead to suspicion or labeling of individuals.
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Understanding Primitive Reflexes in Autism
By Rebecka Spencer What are Primitive Reflexes? Primitive Reflexes are innate reflexes that develop in the brain stem before birth. These involuntary reflexes aid in functions like positioning in the womb, birthing, and feeding. While most disappear within the first year, retained reflexes can interfere with neurological development, leading to learning, behavioral, and sensory issues. Why Are Primitive Reflexes Important? Retained primitive reflexes are linked to neurological underdevelopment, affecting learning, behavior, and sensory processing. Children with autism often benefit from reflex integration, as research suggests a connection between infant reflex retention and neurodevelopmental disorders. Symptoms of Retained Primitive Reflexes: Autism Spectrum Disorders Sensory Processing Disorders ADHD Speech Disorders Learning Disabilities Other Health Issues Integrating Primitive Reflexes: Retained reflexes can stem from various factors, including birth trauma or lack of tummy time. Integration exercises can help resolve them, leading to improvements in cognitive function and symptom alleviation. Importance of Assessment: Checking for retained reflexes, even in asymptomatic children, is crucial. Addressing them early can enhance the effectiveness of other therapies, facilitating higher-level learning and development. Moving Forward with Grace: Understanding autism and primitive reflexes can be complex. It's essential to show yourself grace and avoid self-blame. Cherish Children Ministries emphasizes self-compassion, acknowledging the multifaceted nature of these conditions. Our Journey: Our daughter, now in eighth grade, continues to thrive with ongoing sessions targeting necessary areas. She looks forward to pursuing a career in education, highlighting the potential for growth and success despite challenges. Conclusion: Primitive reflexes play a significant role in autism and neurodevelopmental disorders. By addressing them alongside other therapies, we can unlock greater potential in children with special needs. To delve deeper into autism-related research and insights, sign up for updates from Dr. Rebecka using this link.
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Striking the Right Homeschooling Balance: When to Modify and When to Remove
By Kimberly Vogel For students with learning disabilities, finding the right balance of modifications is crucial. While adjustments can ease the learning process, relying too heavily on them can hinder a child's ability to overcome challenges. The ultimate goal is to empower our children to learn how to learn and conquer their struggles independently. But how do we navigate this delicate balance? Here are some strategies to help guide you: Set Clear Goals: Assess Where They Are: Determine your child's current level of proficiency through placement tests, formal assessments, or informal evaluations. Tailor Assignments: Modify each assignment based on what your child can do and what they need to work on. For example, in math assignments, consider reading word problems aloud or using visual aids like charts. Track Modifications: Use an IEP: An Individualized Education Program (IEP) can be a valuable tool for tracking modifications. Make a plan for gradually phasing out these adjustments as your child progresses. Gradually Reduce Support: For instance, if your child relies on a multiplication chart, gradually limit its use as they memorize more math facts until they no longer need it. Re-evaluate Regularly: Monitor Progress: Periodically reassess your child's needs and progress to determine which modifications are still necessary. Encourage Self-Advocacy: Teach your child to advocate for themselves appropriately and self-evaluate their needs. This fosters independence and resilience. While modifications are essential, it's important not to rely on them excessively. Over-reliance can create dependency and hinder long-term growth. If you're unsure about how to strike the right balance, seek support from SPED Homeschool. We're here to assist you on your homeschooling journey and help you navigate your child's challenges with confidence.
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Embracing Diverse Paths: How We Navigate Summer Learning in Our Homeschools
Summer, with its endless possibilities, beckons us to explore varied avenues of learning tailored to our children's unique needs. Here's a glimpse into how each of our homeschools embarks on this enriching journey: Amy Vickrey In our homeschool, we maintain a semblance of routine during the summer, interspersed with breaks for family events and relaxation. While my son thrives on structure, we prioritize core subjects like math and reading while relishing outdoor activities like swimming. Despite my work commitments this summer, I cherish the continuity of learning, ensuring we don't fall behind. Peggy Ployhar Our summer learning leans towards unschooling, blending planned activities with delightful excursions into nature. Camping expeditions fuel our exploration of God's creation while fostering social skills through unstructured play. For me, it's a much-needed respite from teaching, allowing us to forge unforgettable memories amidst learning adventures. Cammie Arn We embrace year-round schooling with evolving activities, from co-op engagements to homeschool handbell choirs. During summers, we shift focus to core subjects, supplemented by art and mini-courses like Government and Personal Finances. This flexible approach alleviates academic pressure while kindling curiosity in scorching Texas summers. Tracy Glockle Our summers adapt to our evolving needs, alternating between hands-on science explorations and motor skill development. "Bucket lists" empower my kids to pursue personal interests, honing executive function skills while combating boredom. This personalized approach ensures a fulfilling break, prioritizing our collective aspirations. Embracing Your Unique Path As homeschoolers, we revel in the freedom to tailor our educational journey to suit individual needs. Whether it's a structured routine or an adventurous exploration, embrace the path that resonates with your family dynamics. With each summer heralding new opportunities, seize the moment to embark on a fulfilling homeschooling adventure with your children.
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A Guide for Including Special Education in Homeschool Co-op's
A Guide for Including Special Education in the Homeschool Co-op By Dawn Jackson M.Ed, Homeschooling Coach  Homeschooling provides a unique opportunity for tailoring education to individual needs, and this flexibility extends beautifully to children with special educational needs. One effective way to enrich their homeschooling experience is by involving them in a homeschool co-op, where families come together to share resources, skills, and experiences. Here’s a guide on how to include special education children in a homeschool co-op, ensuring they benefit from both social interaction and specialized support. Understanding Special Education Needs The first step in integrating special education children into a homeschool co-op is understanding their specific needs. Special education encompasses a wide range of challenges, from learning disabilities to developmental delays and behavioral issues. Each child’s needs are unique, so it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of what accommodations, modifications, or support they require to thrive in a group setting. Building a Supportive Community A successful homeschool co-op for special education children begins with a supportive community. Start by reaching out to other homeschooling families who have experience with special needs education or who are open to learning about it. Establishing a network where parents can share insights, resources, and emotional support can greatly enhance the co-op experience. Tailoring Curriculum and Activities Flexibility in curriculum and activities is key when including special education children. Work with other parents and educators to adapt lessons and projects to meet diverse learning styles and abilities. Utilize multi-sensory approaches, visual aids, and hands-on activities to engage children with different learning needs effectively. As a specialized coach for Co-ops who want to integrate more understanding for children with learning challenges I have a on line assessment to help determine the child’s learning styles. This assessment is helpful for teachers and parents to gain insight into the way the child learns and also to create a learning plan with goals for the child.  Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and Goals For children with more significant special needs, creating and implementing individualized education plans  within the co-op framework can be highly beneficial. Collaborate with parents, therapists, and educators to set specific, achievable goals tailored to each child’s abilities and challenges. Regularly assess progress and adjust strategies as needed to ensure continuous improvement.       Promoting Inclusive Social Interaction Socialization is a significant benefit of homeschool co-ops, but it requires thoughtful facilitation for special education children. Encourage inclusive behaviors among all co-op members, fostering empathy and understanding. Plan group activities that promote teamwork and communication while respecting each child’s pace and comfort level.  Training and Support for Co-op Facilitators Educating co-op facilitators about special education needs is crucial for maintaining a supportive and inclusive environment. Offer training sessions on understanding different disabilities, effective teaching strategies, and behavior management techniques. Encourage open communication among facilitators and provide resources for ongoing professional development. I am a specialized coach that works with Co-ops to help facilitate plans that foster to helping teachers and co-op leaders with the strategies they need to succeed in their groups.  Celebrating Progress and Achievements Recognize and celebrate the achievements of special education children within the co-op community. Whether it’s mastering a new skill, overcoming a challenge, or achieving a personal goal, positive reinforcement boosts confidence and motivation. Create opportunities for children to showcase their talents and contributions, fostering a sense of pride and belonging. Continuous Evaluation and Adaptation Finally, keep the lines of communication open with parents and co-op members to continuously evaluate and adapt the program. Solicit feedback on what’s working well and where improvements can be made. Flexibility and responsiveness to the evolving needs of special education children will ensure that the homeschool co-op remains a supportive and enriching environment for all participants. In conclusion, integrating special education children into a homeschool co-op requires dedication, understanding, and collaboration. By fostering a supportive community, tailoring educational strategies, and promoting inclusive social interaction, homeschool co-ops can provide invaluable learning experiences and opportunities for growth for children with special needs. Through thoughtful planning and ongoing support, every child can thrive in a homeschool co-op setting, benefiting from both specialized education and a sense of belonging in a supportive community. If you are interested in learning more and having a consultation, please call or email me at [email protected] or 661-433-7809. 
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Understanding and Supporting Children with Language Disorders in Homeschooling
By Peggy Ployhar The United States Department of Health reports that around 7 to 8 percent of kindergarten children struggle with some form of language disorder. Yet, it's surprising how often language impairments are overlooked in discussions about childhood disorders. This oversight may stem from the evolving nature of diagnoses and the varied ways these issues manifest at different ages. Language disorders can emerge in various ways: from delayed speech to struggles in social interaction or reading comprehension. Most children with these disorders don't have intellectual disabilities; rather, they face challenges in processing, expressing, or understanding language. The main classifications include Receptive, Expressive, Mixed Receptive-Expressive, and Language Processing Disorders. Recognizing Language Disorder Signs Receptive Language Disorders: Difficulty understanding speech Struggles with following instructions Challenges in grasping gestures or social cues Expressive Language Disorders: Limited vocabulary Incomplete sentences Difficulty expressing thoughts and feelings Language Processing Disorders: Trouble with word sounds and sequencing Reading comprehension issues Difficulty in understanding complex sentences Strategies for Homeschooling Children with Language Disorders Receptive Language Disorders: Use visual aids and break down reading material Simplify instructions and tasks Encourage questions and frequent checks for understanding Expressive Language Disorders: Offer communication tools or assistive technology Be a model communicator and provide gentle prompts Allow time for explanations and seek clarification Language Processing Disorders: Utilize visuals to reinforce lessons Provide extra processing time and use interactive learning methods Keep lessons short and incorporate breaks for processing Encouraging Progress and Patience It's crucial for parents to realize that these disorders can't be "taught away" or quickly resolved with a curriculum. Progress may be gradual, and each child learns at their own pace. Encouragement and patience are paramount, celebrating every step forward. Additional Resources for Supporting Children with Language Disorders Do2Learn Strategies for Speech and Language Impairments Language Disorders: Recommendations for Teachers Story Mapping Resources from Reading Rockets How to Simplify Difficult Concepts for Struggling Learners Supporting a child with a language disorder is a journey requiring understanding, creativity, and unwavering support. By implementing tailored strategies and accessing valuable resources, parents can empower their children to thrive academically and beyond.