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5 Communication Strategies for Struggling Learners

5 Communication Strategies for Struggling Learners

When homeschooling a struggling learner, communication can be difficult. Without healthy communication, it will be impossible to help your child, let alone teach them effectively so that they make real progress. Communication strategies for struggling learners are essential.

As a parent to an Asperger’s son who struggles in several areas, I have been blessed with a child who communicates effectively. I have learned a lot from him and our journey these last 11 years as a homeschooling family characterized by a close relationship.  I learned this from a great resource I frequently use, AspergerExperts.com. The founder, a young man with Aspergers, teaches about what he calls defense mode and how to get your child out of it.

So what makes the difference? Let me share these five key communication strategies to help you with YOUR struggling learner.

1) Intentionally enter their world.

I must have instinctively known this because it’s something I’ve always done. I take note of my son’s interests and come alongside him to learn and listen.

Whether that was building legos with him or playing cars when he was young or even attempting to play a video game, I make it a point to spend time doing what he loves. This builds trust.

Trust is a foundation of communication, which leads me to the second point:

2) Spend time with your struggling learner APART from school.

Years ago, I learned that my son VALUES spending time with me. Going out to lunch or coffee together satisfies him the most. So I’ve made a point of going out weekly with him for coffee or lunch. Sometimes we take school with us and do school after our food comes. Other times, we just talk.

Regardless, taking this time together regularly sends the message to him that I value his company, which has helped our schooling tremendously.

3) Actively listen.

It’s easy for a parent to get defensive and feel like you’ve failed. I’ve been there many, many times. But when I listen to my son and what he has to say, I can truly understand what’s going on with him.

Case in point: several months ago, I had him evaluated at LearningRx, and we found out he struggles with visual processing. Several weeks after we were working on the school, he told me that he CANNOT visualize, which upset him. I didn’t realize this, so for all those years; I was mistakenly approaching how we did school. I had been using a lot of visual resources rather than audio ones. I had completely missed it!

But because I actively listened to what my son was saying, I finally understood, and now we’re using more audio resources.

4) Treat your child with respect.

Respect goes both ways. Of course, as parents, we deserve respect, but children need and deserve our respect. What does this mean practically?

It means little things like giving your struggling learner advance warning. For instance, rather than demanding my son stop everything he is doing right now instantly, I give him at least a fifteen-minute warning.  Or I will give him choices. Like, “Hey, would you like to do school at 10:00 or 10:30?”

And always have empathy. I learned this most from Love and Logic. LEAD with empathy and mean it, especially if your son or daughter has made a wrong decision or they are struggling in a minor way.  Because you never want to minimize their feelings or tell them they are not feeling a certain way. That will lead to them shutting down and not trusting you. Feelings are feelings, and perceptions are reality.

So just saying a simple “I’m sad for you” when your child is struggling can go a long way!

5) Be consistent.

I have a hard time with this, but it’s so important.  When your child is having a hard time or being defiant, making empty threats will only worsen your situation.  You’re training your child to ignore you until that moment when your tone gets serious, and they know they have to obey.

Communicating up front your expectations and the consequences if these expectations are not met is so important. And then follow through! And don’t threaten something that’s not realistic or will hurt you in the long run!

Communication is so important when teaching a struggling learner. Communication is essential in EVERY aspect of life. These keys will not only help you with your child but will assist in all areas of your life!

Do you need more help with your struggling learner?  Check out our special need courses, tutoring, and advising at True North Homeschool Academy.

About the Author:

Dana Susan Beasley, a graphic artist, writer, and musician, is the principal/publisher/program director of AngelArts. Dedicated to providing excellently-designed ebooks, books, homeschooling curriculum, cards, stationery, gifts, and art services to homeschooling families, inspirational artists, entrepreneurs, and art enthusiasts, Dana delights in sharing her gifts and talents and the talents of others with people who are passionate about spiritual, personal, educational, professional, ministerial, artistic, and relational growth.

Married to Travis Beasley, Dana is a homeschooling mother to her Asperger’s son, Sam. She helped her husband start his architectural business, Essential Pillar Architecture, and assisted him with marketing and administration.

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Easy Homeschool Hacks for Kids with Special Needs

Easy Homeschool Hacks for Kids with Special Needs

You pulled your child from traditional school (or maybe you never started at all) because the environment just wasn’t suited for their needs. Now you’re at home, learning together, all the time. You’ve started noticing little things preventing your child from focusing and truly showing their abilities. It’s so frustrating!

Easy Homeschool Hacks for Kids with Special Needs

There are simple ways that you can 100% change your homeschooling story.

Some of these are adapted from the traditional classroom – but only because they work! As with all things homeschooling, do what works best for your child today. Try things out, make some tweaks, and keep on learning together!

Task List or Schedule Chart

One thing that trips a lot of kids with special needs – as well as typically developing kids – up is keeping things in order, knowing what’s next, and anticipating changes.

Making a simple visual schedule helps children feel settled and in control. They can see their week, day, morning, or even their current task.

You can adapt traditional classroom tools to DIY your schedule! Grab a hanging single strip calendar organizer with clear plastic pockets and some schedule cards or sentence strips. Write out things that you do in your homeschool regularly. Think subjects, special activities, breaks, etc. For pre-readers, you can use pictures printed online. For older kids who can tell time, include a time. You can just add this on the spot with sticky notes or use a whiteboard marker.

Hang your daily schedule in your learning zone or a prominent place in your home. To make a change in the schedule, just swap the cards around. If your child can’t handle a full day of things to do, keep it super simple with just the first 2-4 activities.

Your child will be able to anticipate what’s coming up and feel more confident flowing through the day.

Above the Line/Below the Line

Everyone has things they’d prefer to do, especially kids. For children that push back on learning one particular subject or doing a certain activity, an above-the-line/below-the-line chart helps.

It’s a contract between you and your child. If they can commit to completing 2-4 items of “must do” work, then they can reward themselves with a preferred activity from below the line.

For example, my child must complete Daily Language, one math lesson worksheet/activity, and clean up any learning materials used. Then, she can grab a book to read together, choose an educational show to watch, or enjoy free time with the music of her choice.

Showing the reward for positive, productive work on non-preferred items is a super motivational tool.

Make your own chart by laminating a piece of construction paper. With a permanent marker, draw a line about ½ to ⅔ of the way down. Above the line, draw as many lines as work items you’d like your child to complete, numbering each line; every day, write in your child’s “must do” work. Below the line, using a whiteboard marker, write out the rewards available each day. This keeps things adaptable. Simply erase yesterday’s work and rewards to have a clean slate!

Chunking Work for Success

Plowing through all your work in one big learning session does seem like the most sensible thing to do sometimes. Unless it backfires and you’ve got a meltdown on your hands before half the things are done.

Instead, try chunking out your working time. Work for 5-10 minutes, then take a break and do something else. This is a great time to do physical activity like yoga or “heavy work” – squats, pushups, etc. You could also put on soft music and dim the lights to meditate. Having a healthy snack is another great option!

Building in breaks helps the work seem more manageable. These breaks shouldn’t be super long. Just a few minutes, about 3-5 minutes, is usually enough to reset.

There are two ways to handle the work chunks.

  1. Work in 5-10 min blocks, continuing with the same task/subject/project until complete before switching to a new task or subject.
  2. Work on one task for 5-10 minutes, take a short break, then start a new task or project; whatever you get done in each working block is considered good enough for today; you can continue with the same assignment tomorrow if needed.

Sensory Tools to Stay Focused

Ever notice that your child calms down when they’re holding a certain blanket or bouncing on an exercise ball? Use it!

Try these simple sensory hacks to help your child focus:

  • Velcro strip: attach a small piece of Velcro – either one side or both sides – to your child’s primary working space; your child can stick and unstick two pieces of Velcro or rub their fingers over their preferred side (rough/soft).
  • Exercise ball seating: for kids that wiggle, sit them on an exercise ball – either on its own or as part of a chair system; balancing or bouncing keeps their body engaged, works out the wiggles, and helps their mental focus.
  • Squishy things: use a stress ball, slime or other squishy things to help your child focus; your child can manipulate the squishy as they work – providing a calming and focusing effect.
  • Resistance band chair: stretch a heavy resistance band around the front two legs of your child’s chair; they can rest their legs on it to swing back and forth or push down against the pressure.
  • Fidgets: slide beads along a rope, play with a Koosh ball or fiddle with a small car – fidgets can help your child keep their mind more focused by providing movement.
  • Get creative! Use what your child already loves; offer a preferred object as a reward or to hold/use while working.

These three simple changes can make homeschooling a child with mild to moderate special needs, like ADHD, much easier.

What are your favorite hacks to simplify homeschooling a child with different learning needs or styles?

(Are you looking for academic advising or online courses for your special needs homeschool student?  Check out all of our services at True North Homeschool Academy.)

About the Author:

Meg Flanagan, the founder of Meg Flanagan Education, is a teacher, mom and military spouse. She is dedicated to making the K-12 education experience easier for military families. Meg holds an M.Ed in special education and a BS in elementary education. She is a certified teacher in both elementary and special education in Massachusetts and Virginia.

Meg regularly writes for MilitaryOneClick, Military Shoppers, and NextGen MilSpouse. You can find Meg, and MilKids, online on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

To get actionable solutions to common K-12 school problems, parents should check out Talk to the Teacher by Meg Flanagan.

Struggling Learners or Special Education – What’s the Difference?

Struggling Learners or Special Education – What’s the Difference?

Struggling Learners vs. Special Education

Many parents ask questions about the difference between struggling learners and special education.  A struggling learner is working at or just below grade level. It might take them longer to catch on, they might need a few more examples.

Struggling Learner

When our children struggle with reading, writing, and math, it is sometimes hard to know what exactly is going on.  Is it just this concept they are struggling with? Does math (or reading) come easy, whereas other things are harder?  Especially if it is your first child and if you have never taught children before, it is hard to know how much help you may need or if you should just “wait it out.”

When our struggling learners are younger, it can be difficult to decide whether to seek help or not.  

Dianne Craft, MA, CNHP, suggests considering the following things:

  • At least 7 ½ to 8 years of age?
  • Is the child a boy or girl?  Boys sometimes take longer to mature and be ready to learn.
  • Can your child say (not sing) the ABCs in order, differentiating L, M, N, O, and P?
  • Can your child hold a pencil?
  • When your child writes, does he reverse letters?
  • Does your child have a desire, an eagerness to learn?
  • Is a younger sibling catching on to concepts faster or catching up?
  • Does your child like to be read to?

By around 10, children should be moving from learning to read to reading to learning.  This means they should be able to read the words without much difficulty on age-appropriate levels and begin to build an understanding of what they are reading and learn from it.  

So what about older kids who need some help?  At what point should you be concerned?

Can your child:

  • Look at a set of objects (or fingers) and tell you how many are there (without counting, up to 10)?
  • Know math addition and subtraction facts or a quick strategy to solve them (not counting fingers).
  • Know multiplication and division facts or a quick strategy to solve them (not skip counting from the 1x place).
  • Understanding multiples and factors
  • Understand decimals and fractions
  • Tell time on an analog clock (not digital)

All children learn differently, and it is true that some children simply need time and repetition to be ready to learn certain concepts.  

So when is it important to seek testing and/or services for struggling learners?

  • When it will benefit your child to get them needed therapies
  • When your child is preparing for a trade school or college/university that requires a current “diagnosis” for support
  • When you choose to utilize services available from the local school district (this varies by state and district)
  • When there are state services that are available to you with a diagnosis (such as audiobook programs available to those who have vision impairments or dyslexia diagnosis)
  • To seek recommendations to better understand how to help your child learn (at these times, seeking out someone who understands homeschooling would be beneficial).
  • Your child becomes overly frustrated by their limitations and struggles.

Special Education

A  Special Education student, however,  generally has a specific diagnosis (Autism, Down’s, Intellectual Disability, severe ADHD or Dyslexia, and many others).  These students generally are 2-3 grade levels or developmentally 2-3 years behind their peers in specific areas or across all areas.  

When do I need to seek out a diagnosis?

When a parent asks me if they should seek out a diagnosis, I ask them to consider the following:

  • Why do you need a diagnosis?
  • What questions are you hoping to answer with a diagnosis?
  • How would a diagnosis benefit you and your child?

A diagnosis might be beneficial if:

  • You utilize public school services (some states allow this even for homeschoolers)
  • You will be eligible for services or resources not currently available without a diagnosis
  • You need a diagnosis for your state due to testing regulations
  • You are preparing for college, and a diagnosis is required for needed accommodations for classes or testing (the testing usually has to be less than 3 years old going into college)
  • You don’t know what to do or how to help your child, and you are looking for help in how to approach teaching them
  • You know something is “off” or “not right” or a “problem,” but you can’t quite put your finger on what’s going on. The hope of naming your unrest will bring you some peace and hope to help your kiddo.

What do I do after I receive a diagnosis?

No matter how prepared you think you are going into an evaluation process, receiving a diagnosis comes with a mix of emotions.  You are relieved because you discover something is going on (and you weren’t just THAT crazy mom after all). However, parents need to be prepared.  

There is always a grieving process that comes with receiving a diagnosis.  There will be anger, sadness, and doubt, and eventually, you will feel stronger and better equipped to help your child.  

Here are some tips to help you through this process:

  • Don’t make any immediate changes that aren’t necessary.  Give yourself time to adjust before changing the educational setting (especially to homeschool from public school or vice versa), curriculum, or how you approach things.
  • Educate yourself.  Find some articles, a video, or a book to read on the specific diagnosis. Even if you know a lot about it already, it helps to see the information through the new eyes of KNOWING what is going on.
  • Find some support.  Facebook groups and friends are great places to start.
  • Say some prayers.  The road will be long and hard, even armed with a diagnosis.  Prayers for understanding and peace go a long way.

How to find support…

One of the most important things to do as a parent of a child who struggles or has special needs is to find a support group.  Friends who will pray with and for you, families going through similar struggles, and a good sitter are all important. Here are some great ideas for finding support:

  • Church – a lot of times you can find support through a church.  From support groups to an hour to be an “adult” on Sundays while your kids are in Bible Class can do a lot for how you feel the rest of your week.  Talk with them about your needs and advocate for yourself and your child.
  • Facebook groups – Not all Facebook groups are the same, but there are some wonderful ones out there.  Some I recommend to parents:
  • Friends – Find your “Tribe.”  Friends who can understand and be the shoulder you lean on when things get tough.  Parents going through similar situations are great because they are in the trenches with you.  Being able to offer support at times can be beneficial too.

Struggling Learners and Special Needs students will take more faith, perseverance, and resources but be encouraged! There are more resources, books, conferences, and groups now than ever, including small group classes offered live online through True North Homeschool Academy. We also offer Special Needs and Struggling Learners Academic Advising. We would love to link arms with you as you seek out what’s best for your Struggling Learner or Special Needs student!

Original article written by: Amy Vickrey, MSE.

 Amy holds a Master of Science in Education, Specializing in Curriculum and Instruction, from the University of Central Missouri and a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from Texas State University-San Marcos.  Also, she spent 2 years of college studying Interpretation for the Deaf and Deaf Studies and knows American Sign Language. Her teaching certifications include Special Education, English as a Second Language, and Generalist (early childhood through fourth). She is now part of the Struggling Learners Department of True North Homeschool Academy and loves the discovery approach to learning. Teaching children how to learn will help them reach their goals and dreams.

Special Needs Credits & Transcripts

Special Needs Credits & Transcripts

You have a special needs kiddo, and they are in high school. They are not quite up to grade level in Math or English, or it takes them a few years to get through what is traditionally a one-year program. How do you award special needs credits and special education transcripts?

The basics and therapy eat through your week, there is no time for extracurriculars, and the list of concerns goes on. Special Needs parents have unique life challenges, including creating a Special Needs Transcript for their High School years.

Twenty-Five Clues Hinting at Learning Disabilities that Hint at Learning Disabilities. Need a helping hand? Our SPED Academic Advising will save you time and money!

Creating a Special Needs Transcript

The Basics of a Special Needs Transcript

  • Vocational Transcripts are often 19 credits total, compared to a 24-credit College Prep or 28-credit Honors Transcript.
  • You will want to list 4 credits of English, 3 of Math, 3 of Science, 3 of History, 1 of PE, ½ credits of Health, Speech and Computer and Bible, and other electives.
  • A credit is generally considered to be 120 hours of work. You can organize this work by book study, lessons, practice, time logs, recitals, performances, hands-on work, etc.

You can list courses and subjects using a traditional 4 x 4-course grid (which you can find on our True North Homeschool Tribe FB Group) with the subjects along the left-hand side and years along the top, or you can list courses by subject area. My only caution is that if your students hope to enter the military, they might not accept a by-subject transcript.

Transcripts, Special Needs, and Graduation

Your special needs student may be unable to handle high school level classes or struggle with what would be considered traditional high school work in a specific subject area. It is perfectly acceptable to list courses that your students are capable of, regardless of the level of “grade.” If your student is 15 and capable of 4th grade English, list English on the transcript and give them full credit for an entire year’s work and the grade they earn.

According to Federal law, children with disabilities have the right to stay in school until they complete their school program or until they turn 21, whichever comes first. That is good news as you manage and balance life skills, academic and vocational training, and therapies. Give yourself – and your student! – the time they need to develop and succeed!  

Can therapies “Count” for Credit?

Absolutely! You can log PT and OT for PE credit. Special needs tutoring or educational therapies can count towards credit in subject areas. You can use logs to keep track of credit hours.

How About Hobbies and Electives?

Inevitably, parents underestimate what their students have done and what they can do. Dramatic or musical theater can count towards Speech, Music, Drama, etc. Working in a computer repair shop can be logged and count towards Community Service, BCIS- depending on how detailed and involved the work was -or sales and marketing.

I worked with a student a few years ago who, at age 16,  could not manage to write a complete sentence. This same student successfully co-owned and operated a model train store with his Mom. He had customers worldwide who understood that his speech impediment would in no way impede the high quality of service and attention to detail that he would offer every customer.

The Power of the Parent

So many parents of Struggling Learners and Special Needs students go above and beyond looking for resources, experiences, tutors, and therapies that bolster and build their student’s ability to succeed. Too often, the parent doesn’t understand how to transcribe these experiences, travel, therapies, and P.E. opportunities into credits.  Boy Scouts, 4-H, etc., and other similar programs can translate into many academic credits. Think creatively!

Now, where to start?

Parents of struggling learners and Special Needs are often thrust into a world that requires much research and goes beyond normal. High school can be especially daunting. But you don’t’ have to go it alone! Connect with other Special Needs parents and homeschooling companies that partner with Struggling Learners and Special Needs.

Our favorites include SPED Homeschool and our Special Needs Academic Advising, Classes, and FB Group: Survive and Thrive Special Needs Homeschool.

Our Special Needs Academic Advising program was created to come alongside struggling learners and special needs families. We will do a credit evaluation (and find those “hidden” credits you may have overlooked), recommend curriculum, classes, and programs, develop a Personalized Learning Plan, and provide the support you need to manage to homeschool successfully.

The world of Struggling Learners and Special Needs can be tricky to manage, but thankfully, with the resources available today, you don’t have to go it alone!

Right Start Math Games – Review

Right Start Math Games – Review

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Right Start Math Games – Review

Right Start Math Games are so fantastic; I cannot recommend the Right Start Math Games highly enough! This is an easy to read guide of games that use cards. While some of the directions were hard for me to follow at first, once we got into gameplay it was very simple, probably because I am a visual and kinesthetic learner.

My daughters, who I have been homeschooling for four years do not like math.  They absolutely, totally, thoroughly, and completely detest math.  That is my fault.  My homeschooling aspirations and goals were ridiculously high in our first few years.  I could say that between my youngest two children, math has been what may have broken me on any bad day we have had.

Here is what we reviewed:

I recommend this for starting if you have none of the materials.  It is a great deal and includes all of the pieces you need to get playing right away.  BONUS: Pre-recorded webinars and Math Card games videos on the website!

Time, Money & Math

When I talked to a Right Start representative at a conference, I felt encouraged that I could do this, and then I realized the investment.  Not just financial, but time.  This is what I had none of.  But our family was in desperate need of some math healing so that my kids could navigate and master the math that is all around them! Also,  my sweet 10 year old, the one diagnosed with some learning challenges needed some math success!  My 12-year-old is pretty much on track academically but was often frustrated by her own ability (or lack thereof).

I received the Right Start box full of manipulatives, and let my kids dive in!  They immediately pulled out the different pieces and parts.  They found some more interesting than others. One child pulls out a bag of brightly colored squares, “What do we use this for mom?” Another child picks up the abacus “What is this thing. An instrument?  How does this work?” Then they pull out a back full of stacks of cards, “Is this a game?  Mom, will you play a game with me?”

Math Games

The Right Start Math Game Book is a great start for any family.  In fact, even if you don’t use the full curriculum, you should get this book! The games are fun!  We recently packed a few games to take camping and I told my daughter to grab the cards.  She packed all of the Right Start cards we had; she thinks they are fun enough to take on vacation!  I read in the introduction that 10-15 minutes of a game is the same as a worksheet!  My daughters love these card games, especially the games with the corner cards. Image 1

Level D Starter Kit

Level D Book Bundle

If you are not a current user of Right Start you will need to add the math set which is a complete set of manipulatives and a one-time purchase. Enter Level D.  I love that the levels are given letters, not numbers. Right there, we have confidence.  Her book doesn’t say third grade it says level D.  It may seem like a small thing, but as any mom knows, those little things can really mean A LOT!

Also, it is not an overwhelming page of math problems.  There are activities for teaching and an explanation of why you are doing that activity.  It doesn’t matter if your child is new to the curriculum.  It goes through a review in the first 11 lessons.  These may take a long time and you may need to step back a level, at least to really hit the concepts your child is struggling with. Conversely, your student may fly right through the lessons! No matter the outcome you are being set up to move your child forward successfully.

You want the lessons to be challenging, but not hard.  Both you and your child should walk away with an understanding of the lesson.  If not, play more games before you move on.  The joy of homeschooling your child is meeting them where they are at.  If you are completely new to Right Start Math,  the reviews are as much for you as for your child.  You will learn a little about how to use the manipulatives, some tricky vocabulary, and you may realize you are more than a little rusty on your mental math. This program sets you up for successful teaching.

There are activities online that you can view to help you get a grasp of this as well.  With any new curriculum, you will need to invest a little of your time in getting comfortable with it.  I can certainly say that I felt this one was worth the time especially with the growth and confidence I saw in my daughter.

We are still working on this level, but the foundation is definitely being built.  Her number sense has improved beyond what I ever expected.  My daughter loves challenging me on the games, and when I mess up and she corrects me!  It is empowering.  I am not messing up intentionally at all, she is becoming a much quicker thinker than I am.

Level E

I went into this level with my 6th grader. If you aren’t sure which level to start with, have your student take the free placement test available with Right Start. I was initially thinking it would really just be a stress-free time together and her chance to show me what she knew and understood.  I found that while she knows formulas very well, she doesn’t understand “the why” to many formulas.

We started with the review, and that went pretty well, but then we got really excited by the other lessons looking ahead.  We are still working through it, but I anticipate continuing into level F when we are finished.  We haven’t done all of the worksheets, because once she has mastery of a concept, we just move on.

This level while “easy” for my daughter, is so much more concrete.  There was a lot of guessing going on before she was able to see how the pieces fit.  The manipulatives lead to a deeper, bigger understanding.  A fun lesson -14: One to the millions.  Even my 14-year-old had never really visualized what that would look like in the context of cubes…who am I kidding?  I hadn’t truly visualized it!

This program sets your child up very well with a great foundation.  It leads to fewer mistakes and much more enjoyment and success; it is truly a fun program.  So many things are even clicking better for me than they ever did.  While there are worksheets for many of the lessons, I love the math journal that is included.  This helps your child own the material better than they could with textbook.  It also prompts you to ask a question at the end to see what the child has learned.  In my home, we have begun asking, “when,” and,  “how will you use this?”  It is actually amazing what the kids will come up with.

Pros:

  1. Online Support: No matter what kind of learner you are, you can learn how to teach this program to your child.  You can use the guide they give you or you can go online to watch the webinars available.  In fact, the webinars are available for anyone to watch.  Take a peek!
  2. Teacher Intensive: I was worried about the amount of time I had available to do this with my children. Then I realized very quickly that I didn’t have the time not to take the time.  With any task, skill, or new information you are going to teach your children, it is so important to teach it well.  If you don’t what happens?  You get frustrated.  They get frustrated.  You halfway re-teach…because you already did it once.  You send them off, they get frustrated, you get frustrated.  The cycle begins.  Instead, teach your child well, which means having the right tools yourself.  I decided I didn’t have the time not to give this the time.
  3. FUN: Right Start Math made math fun!

Cons:

  1. Preparation Time: can be tricky and time-consuming. I felt like I didn’t know how to teach my child math at all. Some of these exercises and activities seemed pointless, and then some seemed so hard. Guess what, struggling a bit through it with my child was humbling.  I didn’t like that little bit of frustration, however, the reward when we got it was so empowering!
  2. Teacher Intensive: I can understand how this could be a tricky curriculum for a family with lots of children on different levels.  There are definitely ways to work around but it will take some thought.
  3. Cost: It felt pricey to me. The manipulatives did anyway.  After I really evaluated though, I decided it is very cost-effective.  It almost seemed overly simple to me.
  4. Not enough Work: This program felt like play and not work so I was planning on “filling in” with worksheets. NO NEED! What I needed was a shift in thinking!

And if you are looking for guidance for your student from a teacher who is not you, take a look at the True North Homeschool Academy Math Games I, Math Games II, and Math Games III. These programs utilize the Right Start Math Curriculum and the games that are mentioned here to build a strong foundation for those who are struggling or who just need more practice. For a limited time, take 10% off all math classes (K-12) on our website – use code TNMA10 at checkout until August 3, 2020.

Right Start Math gave me the paradigm shift I needed for my child’s Math Success!

 

Rebecca Lundgren lives in South Dakota with her husband Jeremy, three daughters, and their zoo of adopted animals.  While her family never intended to homeschool, she has learned a lot along the way.

Her background includes a B.S. degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from South Dakota State University.  Before she began her homeschool journey, she taught in Public Schools k-12, English as a Second Language (ESL) k-6, and directed an Early Childhood program.  Since she began homeschooling, she has been involved with working in and then directing homeschooling groups in her area and now teaches ESL online.  She loves camping and hiking with her family, reading, crafting, and children’s ministries.

Rebecca will be teaching Jr High Science, World Geography, and Logic with True North Homeschool Academy.

 

Executive Functioning Skills

Executive Functioning Skills

Strengthening Executive Functioning

colorful brain is lit up Executive functioning skills regulate, control, and manage one’s thoughts and actions. To put it succinctly, executive functioning skills are what manage the brain.

You probably don’t even think about your own executive functioning or that of others. Unless, of course, you are confronted with a situation in which executive functioning is not, in fact, functioning. Most of us intuitively understand the importance of executive functioning and have a sense of what it is as well as a concern when we don’t “see” it in others. Certain times of fast growth, such as the tween/teen years can affect a child’s executive functioning, especially as the teen brain/body is doing some “Brain Pruning.” 

But for some people, executive functioning is more naturally difficult or possibly impaired.  These diagnoses can include ADHD, ADD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Processing Disorders, Dementia, and Traumatic Brain Injuries.

We are now offering a full year EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING CLASS FOR HIGH SCHOOL students

Three Main Categories of Executive Functioning Skills

Working Memory

  • The ability to pay attention and to organize
  • The ability to plan and prioritize; being organized during tasks school or work and the ability to set and meet goals
  • Task initiation- taking action to get things done (motivation)
  • Keeping key information in mind while completing a task

Cognitive Flexibility (Flexible Thinking)

  • Understanding different points of view
  • Being able to adjust behavior to an unexpected change in the environment or schedule

Inhibitory Control

  • Regulating one’s own emotions, including controlling and appropriately channeling one’s feelings
  • Self-monitoring (keeping track of what you are doing) and self-awareness (how is one doing in the moment).
  • Controlling urges to “do”, thinking before acting or responding, exhibiting deferred gratification as well as perseverance.

Obviously, executive functioning skills are important – they allow us to interface with the world appropriately, build, and keep significant relationships and hold jobs.

How Do Executive Functioning Disorders Manifest?

People with executive functioning issues may exhibit one or more of the following:

  • Impulse or emotional control
  • The ability to begin, organize, plan and follow through on task completion
  • The inability to listen or pay attention
  • The inability to manage one’s time
  • The inability to multi-task or juggle multiple tasks, even if they are sequential
  • Short term memory issues, including an inability to remember what they’ve just heard
  • Difficulty following a sequence of steps
  • Difficulty changing from one task to another
  • Socially inappropriate behavior such as angry or aggressive behavior, statements about self-harm or destruction of property

If you suspect you or someone in your family has issues with executive functioning, all is not lost! You can accommodate or learn coping skills.

Teaching Coping Skills

Tips and tools to ramp up those executive functioning skills include:

  • Visual schedules
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Motivation
  • Planners
  • Organizational techniques
  • Working memory exercises
  • Item lists
  • Self-emotional recognition techniques
  • Flexible seating
  • Slowly introducing differences in schedules to provide flexible thinking
  • Extra transitional times
  • Frequent breaks
  • Timers or alarms during tasks
  • Explicit instruction
  • Organized homework or assignment binder
  • Parent/student contract agreement
  • Clearly defined academic and social expectations
  • Logic games, puzzles, and coursework

Executive Functioning is the management of the brain. For kids with executive functioning disorders, it is important to fortify them with resources, materials, and processes that will help them with those struggles throughout life. ~Lisa Nehring

Resources and Support

We are now offering a full year EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING CLASS FOR HIGH SCHOOL students

If you need to be better equipped in this area, you will want to join us for our SPED Equipping Membership!  We focus on providing support, encouragement and tools for special needs families all week long. We host weekly Equipping seminars with discussions, a Book Club, and Coffee and Chat!  You may also want to find out about our current special needs discounts, check out a listing of resources here and read our blog post, Executive Functioning and Why it Matters in Your Homeschool.