Curriculum suggestions for 6 year old "visual learner"? Burnt out and needing help! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 05-12-2010, 06:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'll start off with the basics - I'm currently homeschooling my oldest (Anna) who just turned 6. We are fairly laid back but I would like to be a bit more organized with our lessons. While I would never think of us as "unschoolers", I do appreciate giving opportunities for child led learning. We've been doing short lessons with letters, sounds, basic arithmetic, etc. Mostly from free sources like Starfall, some workbooks, and some other random books. My time is limited because I also have 3 little boys: a high needs 5 month old, a very "busy" 2 yo and a 4yo that likes to interrupt his sister's lessons. Plus housework, a large garden to tend, we are renovating an 1930's farmhouse, etc, etc. Anyway you look at it, I'm burnt out and wanting to choose some programs that I can just open up and work on with her without lots of prep work.

I'm feeling extremely overwhelmed by all the curriculum choices out there! I've been reading about different styles of teaching. I was gravitating towards a classical approach, but literally after a week of attempting to go that route my dd suddenly is resisting doing "lessons" at all. She used to beg me to sit and do "school" with her before! The classical approach is definitely not her style, at least not at this point. She's very smart and wants to learn, but she has struggled with sensory issues (she had 3 years of extensive therapy). I think that because she has difficulty processing auditory information, that a classical approach is just flat out not going to work. She seems to *love* learning when there is a visual component. She has trouble concentrating with her brothers around and including the 4yo is not an option at this point. I've tried offering art projects, etc to keep him occupied but he frequently refuses or only will do them for a few minutes. I'm fine with him not being ready for school, but not thrilled with the interrupting

The materials we have recently been trying out are: The Ordinary Parents guide to Teaching Reading (from the Well Trained Mind series) and Story of the World. For example, we tried out Story of the World today and she was totally uninterested and seemed to retain almost nothing of it. Later, I opened up our Usborne Encyclopedia of the Ancient World just for fun reading and and she was totally interested in it. She loved it actually, I think especially since it wasn't in the form of a "lesson". I think the classical stuff has made her not like lessons I am glad that to see that she is interested but I'd really love to have a set curriculum to work from but not anything "classical". Hopefully with a little bit of time she will like lessons again.

I'd love suggestions for all subjects - Grammar, phonics, math, science, history, etc. We were looking at Sonlight packages but they just don't seem to cover as much as I'd like and they just didn't impress me that much. I like the look of Math U See possibly. I would love to find some sort of package that had it all figured out for me, but I'm fine with using different curriculums for different subjects. I just want to make sure that there is an easy to follow course of study or even a lesson plan.

Also, I'd really like some support that I haven't already screwed up my daughter's education at age 6. She started the year ahead of most kids we knew her age, but she's not made much progress. I'm feeling frankly incompetent to be her teacher, which I know logically is ridiculous. That is another reason (besides time) that I'm really wanting some great curriculum - to make sure I'm not totally screwing up. I don't really have much local support for the homeschooling style I'd like (relaxed, but actual lessons and curriculum). All of our friends have either put their children in school and seem to think that is fabulous, or they are unschoolers. Its a crazy mix lol.

Thanks,
Rebecca

~Rebecca~
mama to a sweet girl , & 4 silly boys

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#2 of 8 Old 05-13-2010, 01:00 AM
 
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I'm teaching a six year old right brain (and it seems) visual learner. I need things entirely planned out for me so I'm consistent. That said, I've not found an "all in one" curriculum that I was wholly impressed with.

You've not messed up her education at six! Some countries (the ones with the best outcomes actually like Finland) don't start any formal academic work until age seven. She's fine.

Did you the find Homeschool reviews website? That helped me narrow things. I also found the Well Trained Mind forums extremely helpful in researching curriculum though I lean more toward Charlotte Mason myself.

I prefer RightStart math. It's supposed to be really good with visual learners (all learning styles really but I see it mentioned a lot by parents teaching right brain and visual learners). It's going well with both my very different six year olds. And, best of all, it's completely laid out for you so almost no prep time at all. Order an extra appendices and you won't need to do copies or take things out of your teacher book. It's engaging, hands on, and respected as a solid math program (including in the classical education arenas). I feel good about it. You do have to sit and do it with her (so it's teacher intensive in that way) but I can't imagine a math appropriate for a six year old that isn't teacher/student together! Also, the lessons are short. We spend 15 or so minutes usually. Sometimes I split a lesson into two days. But it's easy to work in a busy life.

Phonics--I'd pick something different than what I did if I had it to do over again! I did Headsprout and the boys love it (your daugther would too I imagine) but my visual/rightbrain kid was memorizing words rather than using phonics and it's expensive. I'm doing I See Sam readers with my kids now. I love the I See Sam readers and suggest them. Here is a link with the first two sets free. http://www.teacherweb.com/CA/PomeloD...o/printap2.stm The instructions on this link are bad. Go to a site that sells them (BRI for example) and/or the yahoo group below and read instructions there instead--especially for the notched card to use as you start. There is also a yahoo group called Beginning Reading Instruction for the I See Sam readers (BRI/ARI reading) that has been a big help to me in teaching my (visual/right brain) child to read. There are reading tutors and experts on there (including homeschool parents) and they've helped me so much. I could have done it with just I See Sam. And it's no prep. You read the book with her once (with my struggling kid we read it through twice in a row) a day. When she's doing pretty well you go to the next book. It's a genius program--they have introduced sounds in a perfect sequence. I'm impressed. It's really helping my struggling child and both kids and even I really enjoy the books--pretty impressive for a completely decodable (no sight words) set of beginning readers! If I felt I needed a program I'd search the Well Trained Mind forum for O-G and similar suggestions that are scripted. Familiarize yourself with signs of dyslexia as I think a fair number of visual kids are at risk for that (my son included/is). In that case you'd likely need a formal O-G program for sure. If dyslexia isn't a concern ABeCDeDarin looks like a really solid phonics program. The sample lesson I found was entirely scripted. It might be too fast for dyslexia inclined kids. You may find you don't need formal program. Check out those I See Sam readers.

I believe I'm going to do Phonics Road when my kids are seven (or after we have reading solid). It's all in one language arts and academically solid--grammar, spelling, phonics, handwriting, even literature as you go on. But I think six is too young though I know people do it. You can read on the well trained mind forum about the program. But basically I've decided formal grammar and the like is better for later. I'm focusing on reading now.

For handwriting we're using Handwriting Without Tears and I'm pleased with it.

We're learning science/history/etc. stuff through great books and exploration as well as curriculum. I'm doing Heart of Dakota Little Hearts for His Glory for all those things but it's Christian in nature so not for everyone. It's a Charlotte Mason curriculum that is completely planned/easy to implement/quick and hands on. Maybe look into Five in a Row. I've heard good things about that. I've got Liberty Kids videos for American History (I realize I don't know if you're US) but we've not done them yet. Our program (LHFHG) has science and history. I think the best science here comes through Magic School bus books (and videos). They have really cool looking science kits as well but it's too expensive for our budget. I'm sort of with Well Trained Mind thinking in that early instruction should focus on getting reading solid then handwriting/math as priorities. What I don't agree with is the ages mentioned in that book and that it comes naturally to all kids. Hogwash! But I have decided our time is focusing on reading, math, handwriting (and bible here is important to me as well). I also think these young ages need lots of free play time. So academically solid, short, fun, and meaningful is my goal. The things I've mentioned for core subjects (RightStart, HWT, I See Sam) fit that for sure. My LHFHG does too and, as I said, I've heard good things about FIAR but I've not tried it with a visual learner myself. I also am not sure it's laid out enough for me. I need something planned and easy to execute. I have read many of the (great) books with my kids so I can vouch for the quality of the reading in the program.

Rachelle, mommy to 8 year old boys! 

My Blog-free homeschooling finds and my lesson plans and link to the new User Agreement

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#3 of 8 Old 05-13-2010, 12:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much Rachelle! I will go read reviews for the curriculum you suggest, they all sound wonderful. I do absolutely agree regarding reading first, then handwriting/math as core skills at this age.

I may consider having her privately evaluated for dyslexia or some sort of auditory or speech disorder. It has been years since we've been involved with anything like that, so I'll have to ask our ped where to start. There is a bit more that is more appropriate to add in the SN forum, but needless to say I'm thinking this is more than just needing a different type of curriculum. I am still very committed to homeschooling, but I am realizing she may need some additional outside help for speech/auditory issues. I very much appreciate the curriculum suggestions and support.

~Rebecca~
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#4 of 8 Old 05-13-2010, 03:52 PM
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I also like the "I See Sam" readers. I use them in conjunction with the AbeCeDarian program (multisensory reading program) http://www.abcdrp.com/ Before I stared that, I did the phonemic awarenss games found in the Reading Reflex book. I have also heard good things also about "Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons" though I have never tried it.

For math we use Singapore and manipulate things from around the house. This works for us.

My new fave (for writing) is Draw Write Now! http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/096...pf_rd_i=507846
My kid loves to draw though. So, she will use the directions to draw a picture and then uses the sample sentences for copywork. She has also expanded to (like today) drawing an animal parade and creating her own story to go with.

Science right now is our garden. We learn through it. Social Studies is on hold right now, but we use the library and pursue our interests through it.

Forgot to add grammar, etc. We aren't using a curriculum. We have talked about nouns and verbs. We have worked on rules about capitalization and when to use various end marks. But that is it for first grade grammar here. Next year I am thinking about first language lessons.

We also love the school house rock songs.

Amy

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#5 of 8 Old 05-13-2010, 07:06 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by celestialdreamer View Post

I may consider having her privately evaluated for dyslexia or some sort of auditory or speech disorder. It has been years since we've been involved with anything like that, so I'll have to ask our ped where to start. There is a bit more that is more appropriate to add in the SN forum, but needless to say I'm thinking this is more than just needing a different type of curriculum. I am still very committed to homeschooling, but I am realizing she may need some additional outside help for speech/auditory issues. I very much appreciate the curriculum suggestions and support.
I've got a complicated/special needs kid. He's got a lot going on so I've learned much in many areas. He was my initial reason for homeschooling because I felt strongly he wouldn't thrive in our school system. I'm also great with research and enjoy helping people. Please let me know if I can help you at all.

Rachelle, mommy to 8 year old boys! 

My Blog-free homeschooling finds and my lesson plans and link to the new User Agreement

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#6 of 8 Old 05-13-2010, 09:37 PM
 
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i'm currently reading upside down brilliance. there's a very good chapter about teaching techniques for visual learners. a *must read* for anyone with a visual-spatial learner.

this: http://www.homeschooldiner.com/speci...tial/main.html
many many great suggestions

this: http://www.visualspatial.org/Articles/articles.htm

i try to find videos for my ds. he absorbs them like a sponge, anything visual literally uplinks right into his brain. we do mathusee, cozy grammar, brainpop, documentaries, hands on science kits, tons of experiments, crafts, activities, geocaching, map puzzles, lots of educational games, lego mindstorms.
we just got all about spelling as it had good reviews for visual learners, but havent started yet.

i really liked the idea of 'classical education', it's great for auditory-sequential learners, but was a total fail for my visual-spatial kiddo.

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#7 of 8 Old 05-15-2010, 01:46 AM
 
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I like all of the above suggestions (and will investigate some of them myself!). I just wanted to add that I do a LOT of read-aloud to my right-brained 7-year-old using the Ambleside Online curriculum (Charlotte Mason), and he loves the books. It doesn't "feel" like a lesson, as they are "living books", and some are more RB-friendly than others, but they have been a big hit in our house (and I've learned a ton too!).

Also, I would recommend checking this out for science. . .
http://www.noeoscience.com/
Again, lots of great book to read, and although many people have panned them in this forum, my kids LOVE the Young Scientist kits that are integrated into the curriculum.

We are also having success with Handwriting without Tears, and Rosetta Stone for Spanish.

Best wishes. . .
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#8 of 8 Old 05-15-2010, 03:55 AM
 
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I used (am still using) a combination of things with my 7 yr old DD. She seems very right brained, definitely a visual learner. We did a few months of Reading Eggs. She loved it but I don't think she got a ton out of it. We worked through all of the free Really Reading program from Ambleside. That was great for her because the lessons were very short and there was a little bit of review but not enough to bore her. We've done some Progressive Phonics, also free online. She really loved that for a while but then burned out. Lots of me reading aloud to her. We covered all the science, history, and geography in What Your First Grader Needs to Know. For a while she was obsessed with BOB books and read them all to me before bed. That was after declaring they were baby books and she didn't want anything to do with them. Whenever she is fed up with a program I totally back off. When we approach it again, her knowledge seems much stronger. She still doesn't have reading fluency down, but she can sound out most things. I'm not worrying about keeping up with "grade level". She began writing out stories in her crazy phonetic spelling far earlier than she could read. Sometimes backwards and upside down. I actually kind of miss that now, but it used to scare me to death.

I also tried Right Start Math, but she hated it. I loved it, but it just didn't work out. I think I made a mistake in getting Level A. We probably needed B- we started half way through kindergarten when I pulled her from public school. I think she was really bored, but I felt like I needed to stick with it because it was so dang expensive. Now we use Miquon and it works for us, but she hates the cuisenaire rods because she thinks it is cheating...go figure.

Science is all around us. We just go experience life and nature and talk about things, bring magnifying glasses outside, etc.

I subscribed to Time4Learning so I would feel like we were doing something and not totally slacking off. I like that it was very low maintenance but the content is fairly uninspiring. I'm cancelling it now.

There is a curriculum called Every Kid is Spatial that sounds very interesting. I don't have any first hand knowledge about it though.

We're going to do Oak Meadow next year. Art is a big part of everything as well as nature and animals, and the pace is relaxed. I think it will be a great fit for us. Also going to continue Miquon, and start Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding, as well as violin and maybe a gymnastics/trapeze/acrobatic type class.
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