Archive for October, 2015

A couple of months ago, I learned of a program that Memoria Press has for special needs children. To my knowledge this is the first of its kind. When Little Man was first diagnosed to have autism with very significant developmental delays, I began a 3 year search for a school or homeschool curriculum that was designed for special needs children. Again and again, the answers were always the same when I spoke to the publishing companies. Either they suggested preschool materials or they knew of nothing that was available. The problem was (and continues to be) that Little Man is not capable of doing a preschool curriculum as it is written for typical children. Preschool curriculum usually is designed to include a lot of tracing, cutting with scissors, pasting, coloring, counting, and other early academic skills. Many special needs children are unable to do those things, which leads back to the original question. What do we use to teach a child with significant developmental or physical delays?

As I looked through various homeschool catalogs that arrived in our mail, I noticed that Memoria Press has a program called, Simply Classical. The program levels are as follows:

Level A – for age 2-3 years

Level B – for age 3-4 years

Level C – for age 4-5 years

Level 1 – for age 5 years

The ages given are not looked upon as only the child’s physical age. The program is designed to match the child’s levels in cognitive, language, and motor skill development. In our case, Little Man is testing at the developmental age of 25 months by his occupational therapist. So, the program’s Level A is perfect for him. It will given him just enough challenge in the fine motor skills area to help him progress, yet not be overwhelming.

One of the things that has drawn me to using this curriculum with Little Man is that they have a list for each level of program levels A, B, and C, of the developmental skills that are addressed and taught in that particular level. I was able to print out a copy of the list and give it to Little Man’s OT and now, she is able to include many of these things into the therapy sessions. As she looked through the list, she found them to be on target for what she was planning to work towards. A few of the skills, he is just beginning to learn, but most are ones we will be teaching him as we go along through the curriculum.

The curriculum is based upon a 4-day week schedule. This perfectly matches up with Little Miss’ curriculum from My Father’s World. Being that we have one day each week devoted to traveling 79 miles from home to take Little Man to his therapies, the 4-day week works out perfectly. On the 5th day, we go on an outing or do extra activities that blend in with the lessons of the week.

On the website, I was able to print out a Supply List for the Level A program. Much of what I saw on the list are basic art supplies. I already have nearly everything on the list. They went to the effort to offer options for many of the items. For drawing paper, in example, they list two different brands that are highly recommended. Play dough is another item that they include, but they also provide a recipe to make your own. At the end of the list, there is a special section listing items recommended for fine motor skill development, gross motor, sensory play, and problem solving.

When the order arrived, I was thrilled to see a box filled with colorful board books. Little Man loves these. While he is able to handle paper books without tearing them, the board books are going to be even better in the long run. Often, they have more vibrant colors, which he enjoys. I have often noticed that the more colorful a book is, the more time he spends looking through it. This is one reason why he spends long periods of time looking through photo albums.

The lesson plans are very simple to follow. Everything is very detailed on one page. It is in grid format without extra pages to flip through. For record keeping purposes, I am making a photocopy of the lesson plan pages, which I will have in a binder. When opened, the lesson plan grid will be on the page to the left of the binding and a lined page for notes will be on the right. This will allow me to make notes about his progress as we go along. If there are any activities which he has difficulty in doing, I can make a notation. At the end of the year, I will have a detailed portfolio of his daily work. Another reason for the lined page is to give me space to list Montessori activities, Letter of the Week pages, or any other projects that we work on each day. One advantage of having the copy for my records is that I can reuse the same lesson manual as often as necessary until the skills being focused upon are achieved.

I am still at a big of a quandary in the academic part of things. Little Man is firmly at a developmental age of 25 months where his fine motor skills and some cognitive skills are concerned. However, he is also able to learn things that a 25 month old would not be able to do. So, I am still using Montessori activities and the Letter of the Week curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler. Both will also help his fine motor development. They will also be providing more academic learning than Simply Classical Level A program will give.

I have learned over the summer, that taking break from the homeschool routine does not work with him. He lost momentum over the summer as well as now having to relearn some of the things he had done last school term. This is not unusual. Even typical kids can lose a bit of ground. They get out of the routine and habits that they were using in the previous school term. So, in the beginning of a new school year, the habits have to be reestablished. With some special needs children, this issue can be more problematic. Some kids simply cannot take that long break without it having negative affects. Little Man is one of those kids. He has to stay on the routine of homeschooling year round to make the best amount of progress.

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With a new school year comes a new chapter in our lives. Little Miss is becoming quite the young lady. She is such a sweet spirit and a joy to have in our family. I am already noticing a maturity in her this school term that hasn’t been there previously. Now, she has become much more independent in her studies. We have a morning meeting each day. In this meeting, I briefly go over her lesson schedule for the day, making note of what subjects she should come to me for further assistance. Once we conclude, she takes her assignment notebook, sits at her desk, and gets started.

We are still using the 10-drawer cart for her curriculum materials. We don’t follow the workbox system so much with her anymore. Instead, each subject has a permanent home in one of the drawers. She uses her assignment notebook and simply works her way down the list. I purposely scheduled her lessons so that those she needs the most assistance with are scheduled for a time of day when I am finished working with Little Man.

For Little Miss’ curriculum, we have chosen to use My Father’s World: Adventures in US History as the foundational theme for the year. Though designed for 3rd grade, we are beefing up the lessons to a 4th grade level. It is actually very easy to do when you consider that the curriculum only covers history, geography, and science. Those topics are easy to adjust to the 4th grade by increasing the reading assignments and what is expected in her weekly projects. The reason for this choice is that it will provide a good foundation before we begin studying world cultures next term, which will begin early summer, 2016, since we homeschool year round.

My Father’s World uses a cycle called “Investigate” from 4th grade through 8th grade. The cycle looks like this:

Exploring Countries and Cultures

Creation to the Greeks

Rome to the Reformation

Exploration to 1850

1850 to Modern Times

With us homeschooling year round, with very few breaks, by the time Little Miss is ready to start high school, she will have already completed all the levels of the above curriculum.

Here is a rundown of her curriculum for the year.

Bible My Father’s World

Language Arts English Christian Light Publishing

Spelling ACIS Spelling Workbook

Writing Cursive Handwriting workbook

History & Geography My Father’s World

Mathematics Christian Light Publishing

Science My Father’s World

Reading Unit Studies based upon literature read

Art I Can Do All Things, art curriculum

Foreign Language Sign Language

Music My Father’s World

We are loving the time doing US History this year. There is so much that she is going to be learning about each state, as well as the founding and establishing of our nation. It is a really good overview of our country’s history before tackling the world cultures next term, then world history the following 4 terms.

Little Man is starting a completely new adventure of his own. I will write about his curriculum in detail next post.

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