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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,
Long time since my last post on Mothering! :laugh:
Brief background info: DS1 is dx-ed ASD and ADHD. He's a very gifted kid, but has had very serious behavior problems at school. We've been through three schools in three years and the latest recommendation from the county is private placement at a top-notch therapeutic school that is just too far from our home. And I really don't think I can go through another school year, nor do I want to put him through it. So, I guess we're homeschooling next year!
I'm looking for suggestions for resources/materials/curricula. He's a very reluctant writer - this is generally the trigger for behavior incidents/meltdowns at school - so any suggestions for that would be helpful. He's going into third grade, but I would guess his writing skills are around a year behind at this point.
TIA!
 

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Welcome back:grin: First thing that I would do is take time to see where he is. What does he want to learn about. You can start with a library visit. Look around and see what DS wants to read FIC and NON-FIC.

Take your time. Take it slow and let him take the lead.

Come join us here http://www.mothering.com/forum/439-...e-2017-unschooling-thread-2.html#post19700154 Our group is unschooling but we are open to anything with homeschooling. :love
 

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Is writing a hill you really want to die on? There are other ways to learn fine motor skills. Does he like art projects or crafts? How about making 'slime'? Slime seems to be the big thing with kids right now.

You can accommodate at home, read for the answer, verbally give the answer, circle the answer, type the answer, voice to text the answer etc. When he is ready to write he will learn. 8 is still young and 3rd grade is isn't that old.

Its also about choices-do you want to use the red crayon or the blue pencil? type of thing.
You need to do one math worksheet- pick one of these 5, any one is fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the replies, ladies!

@Nazsmum , he is really coy about revealing his likes (e.g. if there were a book in the library that caught his eye, he would hide from me to look at it - not kidding) but if I were able to identify a topic of interest, is there a particular source I could look to for additional materials? Like a unit study superstore?

@zebra15 - I go back and forth on that. I think my main concern is that his opposition to writing is not just physical - I have done plenty of transcribing for him on homework, as have his various 1-on-1 assistants at school - but because of his autism he actually has trouble with several parts of the act of writing: choosing a topic, organizing his thoughts, holding a sentence in his head while he says/writes it, spelling (which he can't bear to do imperfectly), AND the physical act. I'm sure it's terribly frustrating for him. Part of me feels like I should just let it go for a couple years and see if those skills improve to the point that he will be more comfortable with writing. But another part of me feels like some of those skills will only improve with consistent practice, and I should try to keep him working at it but acknowledge where he's at rather than try to keep him working with his age-level peers the way the schools have.:frown:
 

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I should try to keep him working at it but acknowledge where he's at rather than try to keep him working with his age-level peers the way the schools have.:frown:
You can do this at home. Work at his pace.

Homeschooling does not have to be school at home. It is NOT school at home. You have time to explore and work on things at your our pace.
 

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I think backing off entirely for a while would be a good idea. He's shown you and several schools that he just isn't ready, it sounds like you are both frustrated, and 8 is so young. Whatever he's interested in will naturally include writing in some way, and then he can come to it at his own pace with no pressure to push back against.
 

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Something popped up for me. In one of Oliver Sacks books (I think it is the Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat), he talks about a girl who had a number of serious developmental challenges, but loved acting. He commented that people with various challenges are usually tested for what they are "bad" at and then pushed to try to get better at the areas where they are "deficient." He points out that sometimes it makes sense to focus on strengths and joys.

After a couple of years of being pushed around by the system I suspect your son may need a bit of a break, a chance to find some of his own strengths and interests and joys and run with them.

And you can often circle around to something, like writing, from another angle. Some examples: singing, listening to stories and then trying out alternate endings, acting in little playlets, make believe games, memorizing poetry, making up stories.

In terms of organizing and writing down stuff, that is actually a very complex activity, one that many grown-ups find difficult. I'd play around with very simple versions of the activity, for example, writing down a shopping list. Planning meals for the week. Writing a haiku or a limerick. Keep whatever it is brief and doable. Over two or three months you could try to work up to a very short paragraph on a very easy topic.

For a child who has had a lot of struggles, the burden should be on the adult, to develop a do-able program that builds skills, rather than putting the load on the child to reach beyond what they can manage.

Sorry to be so preachy!

Many years ago, when my daughter was in college, she did some tutoring for a child who was having problems in school. She told me that she thought that the main problem this kid was suffering from was boredom. He was given boring stuff to do and, no surprise, didn't get interested, inspired or involved. My daughter had spent most of her childhood in waldorf schools, where things weren't always perfect, but she definitely wasn't bored. Education doesn't have to be a misery. I got most of mine from public libraries. I just slogged through all the different schools I attended. Sometimes things were interesting, mostly they weren't, but I liked learning.

If you can inspire your son with a love of learning you are home free.
 

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I have a kid that same age who's probably never written more than a sentence on his own (has dictated some). Today he struggled through writing about 18 words in his nature journal on a hike (not forced to), and they came out like this: "ELDiR BARY LEFE ... SMOOTH" and "SPROOS BARC... RUF"

I am also a professional writer. I can say with certainty that the thought-organizing parts of writing are very hard for everyone, and I am struggling with them at this moment for an article I'm working on for the newspaper. I can also say that I detested writing in school, hated being forced to do it, and didn't come around until my mid twenties, when I had enough distance that I could start to flirt with all the subjects that school had taught me to hate. I think I needed to have something I really wanted to write about!
 

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I agree with the others about laying off the writing for now.

My ds (now 20) was homeschooled all along and it was clear he had some 2E stuff going on, including dysgraphia. I didn't push it at all. He had access to handwriting workbooks and computers and a bunch of games and musical instruments and tools and toys. He rarely wrote anything by hand, never wrote an essay, and with no exaggeration his handwriting at age 14 looked pretty typical of what a kindergarten girl would produce. He was finally tested formally when he was going into 10th grade at a bricks-and-mortar school, in order to document his need for accommodations. It pretty much just confirmed what we already knew (moderately severe dysgraphia, some motor planning issues, very high intellectual potential, some issues with visual memory and speed), but the school needed it.

Anyway, it turned out that a lot of the barriers to writing had fallen away for him between ages 11 and 14. He had learned keyboarding pretty well, well enough that he could type a sentence to completion before his short-term memory lost its thought. His only remaining barrier was the motor planning issue, and it fell away when he was keyboarding. He was able to write amazing essays and is doing very well in a selective college program, currently needing no accommodations. I'm very glad that we didn't pursue testing and remediation when he was younger. Why? Because so much of it turned out to be unnecessary, it would have tainted his attitude to writing for years, it would have poisoned his relationship with whoever had to push him (me?), and it would have drawn so much time and energy away from the things he learned easily and joyfully.

I would think about natural ways you can encourage your ds in the development of the component skills of good writing without actually doing any writing. For instance, create opportunities for story-telling by having everyone share their "Three Best Things" of the day at the dinner table every night. Listen and ask questions about what he shares. Offer your own Best Things to model story-telling skills. Expose him to lots of good vocabulary and complex sentence structure through audiobooks and readalouds of books that are more advanced than what he would read himself. Play games ... try Rory's Story Cubes, Apples to Apples Jr. or Dixit for family games that involve language and the organization of ideas without any necessity for writing. Think about things he's interested in that you could support that would grow his motor-planning skills (Lego? piano? knitting?), and consider supporting him in interests that involve keyboarding (gaming, coding).

I agree with Deborah and her Oliver Sacks reference: school is good at figuring what skills children are bad at, and then insisting they spend most of their time doing that stuff. In real life, people figure out what they're good at and devote their time and energy to that. Not surprisingly people tend to be happier spending their time doing things they're good at. You might think that they'd end up with major deficits, but from what I've seen amongst unschoolers, growing by leaps and bounds in one's strong areas tends to result in the strong areas pulling the weaker areas forward. Eventually the precocious little programmer who never writes will want to start posting questions and ideas on a game developer's forum. Eventually the Lego nut will need to make fund-raising posters for his Mindstorms team competition. Everything is connected.

Miranda
 

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Just wanted to add, that for children who have the normal sorts of capacities and deficiencies (i.e., strong at some stuff, weak at other stuff), struggling with things they are NOT good at, within reason, is perfectly constructive. To return to my waldorf school example, such schools have everyone act, everyone sing, everyone draw, everyone read, everyone do wood-carving and everyone help tidy the classroom. And lots more. In a classroom setting, children realize that the person who has a lot of trouble singing on tune is super good at running or drawing or reading, and the person who can't run very fast is the best at learning to knit. Developing an appreciation of human variety and learning how to support each other's weaknesses and lean on other people's strengths is good experience.

Carrying this sort of stuff to extremes, where people who have trouble reading end up with two extra hours of reading practice every day isn't helpful, though. It is all about balance, and also about the adults learning how to creatively help children find the right way to move forward individually.

My two years at a waldorf school, in middle school and a bit of high school, taught me a lot about appreciating human variety, whereas my years in a public school middle school setting taught me about the miseries of being bullied. And bored.
 

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Just wanted to add, that for children who have the normal sorts of capacities and deficiencies (i.e., strong at some stuff, weak at other stuff), struggling with things they are NOT good at, within reason, is perfectly constructive.
I agree that there is value in children learning to persist and problem-solve their way through things that they find difficult, rather than giving up or losing interest. However, I have always found that when my children are given time and trust and support such that they find their own reasons to struggle through things they find difficult (whether because they are 'weak' in an area or because they have reached an exceptionally advanced level for their age), they are far more motivated to overcome obstacles, and the lessons they learn from doing so are far more profound.

In school children do not often get the kind of opportunity I outlined above (to find their own reasons to challenge themselves with their own pursuits, to own those pursuits and motivate themselves to do especially difficult things). Therefore in school I can see more of a case for pushing kids to do things that are difficult for them. At least kids for whom many things come easily.

Miranda
 

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I agree that there is value in children learning to persist and problem-solve their way through things that they find difficult, rather than giving up or losing interest. However, I have always found that when my children are given time and trust and support such that they find their own reasons to struggle through things they find difficult (whether because they are 'weak' in an area or because they have reached an exceptionally advanced level for their age), they are far more motivated to overcome obstacles, and the lessons they learn from doing so are far more profound.

In school children do not often get the kind of opportunity I outlined above (to find their own reasons to challenge themselves with their own pursuits, to own those pursuits and motivate themselves to do especially difficult things). Therefore in school I can see more of a case for pushing kids to do things that are difficult for them. At least kids for whom many things come easily.

Miranda
That makes sense.
 

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I differ a little from some previous posts. I don't think he's too young to learn reading and writing, but he certainly has every fundamental right to learn at his own pace and interest level.

Even if your DS hides his books from you at the library, you are inevitably going to figure out what makes him "tick"--re: topics of interest, learning style, etc.--and work with him accordingly. Once this happens, writing will happen. For my own LO, also homeschooled and ADHD and equipped with all of that behavioral fun :wink, it's come in the form of writing his own comic strips. Then I get a lot of, "Mom, how do you spell . . . " and "Mom, can you read this OK?"

Full disclosure: I am not an unschooler and not a "school-at-home-er." There's a wiiiiiiiiiii-iiide continuum in between. :) The only thing that I recommend against for parents of ADHDers, (voice of experience, here :wave), is succumbing to the temptation to use a rigid program with grades, deadlines, and distant individuals directing the education--e.g. K-12, Connections Academy, or a number of distance-learning curriculum companies).

I *love* Charlotte Mason homeschooling because of the brief but substantive lessons, as well as the emphasis on nature walks and nature study---both work beautifully with the ADHD kids! PM me for resources, if you're curious.

What I do: Once I settle in on what curriculum I want to use, I employ a spiral notebook for some quick, nightly lesson planning. https://amongstlovelythings.com/spiral-notebooks/ Lessons are usually, (not always) done before lunch, and we use the afternoons for pursuing various passions, (this is where your DS can really find and reveal his interests!)

Homeschooling for me has long been a journey of finding the fire in my children's belly and letting them work from that. I didn't happen overnight; it's a process that blooms and blossoms. Your son may feel a little numb to his own interests because he's spent so much time trying to survive in a classroom setting that doesn't fit with his brain and thought processes. But he'll discover what makes him unique as he continues to homeschool.

Oh, and I can tell you in two words what helped us: Yoga. Ball. DS bounces his way through lessons on that thing, and it's been a godsend. It's a little hard to bounce while working on handwriting, though. :lol

Best to you on your journey! :goodvibes And sorry for the novel! :lol
 
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I have kids with dysgraphia, and one who just flat out hates writing. We have found that form drawing as been a HUGE help in working through writing issues. We are waldorf homeschoolers and its a traditional thing there, but I have a lot of mainstream homeschool friends that have tried it with great success.
 
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Best resource for every kid

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