Tag Archives: special needs

Where You’ll Find Me Today . . .

I am being featured in the Crew Spotlight today, on the Schoolhouse Review Crew Website.

You’ll find me sharing about homeschooling being a lifetime commitment, as opposed to a “season in my life”, and I sure hope you’ll find it interesting and informative. 🙂 To go and check out what I have to say on this topic, please click below, and while you’re there, check out the rest of the site as well!

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As always, I’d love it if you join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Just go and enter your email into the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog, and never miss an update! And if you do enjoy “My Journeys”, please, go to our Facebook Fan Page and “like” it. I’d sure appreciate it if you did! 🙂

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Filed under Crew Spotlight Post, education, family, home education, homeschooling, Kids, Special Needs Children, special needs education, unschooling

Is There A Family With Special Needs Children In Your Church?

How well do you relate to them? How well do your KIDS relate to them? Here’s the thing . . . when these kids are little, they are cute, and their “issues” are much more easily overlooked. A child born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and mental retardation, who is also on the autism spectrum, gets lots of understanding when he or she is a toddler. Believe me, I know. My oldest, “The Batman”, IS that child. He was adopted at age 2, and he isn’t a cute little toddler anymore. It’s so much harder for him now, because he KNOWS he’s different now. He regularly asks me (yet again) if his “friends” know he has these disabilities, hoping (yet again) that maybe they don’t, that somehow, he has successfully hidden it. And yes, he does try, so very hard, to act like the other kids who are teens, not really understanding that it isn’t working. He wants to be accepted so very badly, as do all kids like him, as do, in fact, all kids, whether disabled or not.

So. Do you have a kid, or kids like this in your church? Do you know how to treat them? Do your own children know how? Because if not, you need to learn how to accept them where they are, and for the person that they are, even when that means cutting them some slack if they are annoying. Most of the time, they truly do not understand that they are annoying.

If you have a family like this in your church, here are my suggestions:

  1. Befriend them. And I mean for real, not just in the superficial way that so often happens. Befriend them. Spend time with them. Have dinner with them. Take part in other activities with them. We’ve been fortunate enough to find friends in our church here who do want to spend time with us, people who have been to our home for dinner (on holidays, no less!), or who have had us to their homes for dinner. But, we’ve also, in years past, been part of churches where we felt very excluded.
  2. Learn about the disabilities their children deal with. You may find yourself surprised to discover that an awful lot of the time, what you think is bad behavior, annoying behavior, etc . . ., is directly attributed to the disability, or multiple disabilities working together against the child. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times over the years I’ve been told, either directly or in a round-about way that my child would be more pleasant to be around if I would “just discipline him more”.
  3. Don’t just befriend the child/children, befriend the parents. Do they ever get to go out without their children? We all know how important things like regular date nights are to a marriage, but do you realize that most couples with children like this RARELY get regular date nights? Do you know that there is a higher rate of divorce among couples with these children?
  4. Try harder to understand the behavior in kids like this, ESPECIALLY when they have reached the teen years and beyond.  “Children with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure activities. The disorder makes it hard for them to communicate with others and relate to the outside world. In some cases, aggressive and or self-injurious behaviors may be involved.” My son is pretty high functioning compared to many others with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, mental retardation and autism, which has been attributed to the fact that we took him out of school right after kindergarten and began homeschooling him, but even so, he still does, and always will, have serious problems when it comes to social interaction.

My child has battled these disorders for 20 years now, almost 21 years. He has problems when it comes to communication, he has difficulty with timeline, and definitely with social interaction. He is also, when you really take the trouble to get to know him, to befriend him, and help him to feel that he is safe to “be himself” with you,  one of the kindest, most giving and loving people I have ever known, in my whole life.  But, if he feels unsafe to “be himself”, he becomes anxious. He will pull his eyebrows out, and has, at times, pulled large patches of his hair out of his head. He doesn’t “get” social cues most of the time, and often, when someone is “joking around”, he doesn’t get that, either, and thinks they are serious. Sadly, sometimes they actually AREN’T just joking, because they themselves don’t “get it” when it comes to kids like this.

There are children like mine in many, many churches, and if they are fortunate, they are loved, accepted, and have friends. Is this the case in YOUR church? Are these kids included, loved, and treated as though they truly are your children’s friends? Are you teaching your children to be kind and caring, even if those children are “weird”? Because you do your children a disservice if you aren’t teaching them this. In all of their life, both now, and later when they are grown, your children WILL have interactions with people who are “different”. Will they be kind to them? Or will they be intolerant of the differences? Will they stand up for them? Or will they join the bullies, because they themselves fear being bullied?

I have other kids who do not have as significant disabilities as “The Batman”, and it is my goal, which I hope I’m being successful in, to make sure they are learning to help their brother, and other kids like him. To stick up for them, to befriend them, to care about them. I believe this will make a difference in THEIR lives, even later, when they are grown and on their own, which I believe some of them will be able to be. I want my less disabled children to grow up with empathy, and caring hearts.

As believers, I think we need to be aware of these things. My kids, just like all those other kids who are “different”, will never be “safe” to just be themselves in most settings, but more than anything, if you are a believer, I want you to know and understand that outside of their own home and family, the one place they should never, ever have to worry about being able to “be themselves” is when they are with their church family. Look around your church. Are there kids like this? Are they REALLY safe to be themselves? With you? With your children? With their Sunday School teachers? With ANYONE? Because they should be, and if you’re not sure you agree, then maybe you need to read more about Jesus, and how He was with children. The church isn’t just a social club. It is a family.

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Filed under adoption, Christian faith, Church, family, Kids, Special Needs Children

Learning Can Be Many Things . . .

And does not come from textbooks only! Here is “Mr. Loquacious”, working on a structure made with his sports trading cards . . .
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He is learning patience (it keeps falling down), he is practicing engineering, he is designing.

In the end, it turned out he was simply preparing a place for his hot wheels cars to crash into and destroy, but I failed to get a picture of that, lol!

As always, I’d love it if you would join me on all of “My Journeys”. Just enter your email information into the “sign me up” button at the top of the page and never miss an update! Also, if yo enjoy this blog, please go to our Facebook page and “Like” it. Thank you! 🙂

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Filed under education, family, home education, homeschooling, Kids, special needs education

French Essentials . . . A T.O.S. Review

When I was offered the chance to review French Essentials in our homeschooling environment, I thought about it for a little while first. My kids and I have been trying really hard to learn another language, but I thought it would be fun to take a break and see how we would do with French.

For this review, we received the Full Access Online Program, which has given me everything they have to offer. You can purchase the Full Access Online Program for $149.95, which will give you every one of the modules (there are four so far, with module five on the way), for a total of over 90 lessons and an entire year to get them all downloaded to your own computer! This is a savings of over 57%, as opposed to purchasing one module at a time for the cost of $69.95. Also, with the single modules, you get only 90 days to get all of the lessons and workbook materials downloaded to your computer.

From the French Essentials Home page:

“French Essentials is a complete, downloadable French curriculum with online features that include culture, fun exercises, lesson tests & more.
Designed by experienced French teachers specifically for home learners, it is clear and easy to use and does not require previous knowledge of French. The well designed lessons teach French in an easy to follow, gradual, step-by-step method with video & audio instruction that allows students to interact with the language in a fun and engaging way.”

French Essentials takes your homeschooler through all four language acquisition skills:

reading
writing
listening comprehension
speaking

They use a multi-sensorial approach, beginning with audio. We were able to read the lessons, then click on various characters, letters and words in order to hear the correct pronunciation. These sound files are embedded right in the pdf that we downloaded for each lesson.

Also embedded in the pdf lessons were little videos of a French-speaking teacher giving us time to “watch, listen and repeat”.

We also were able to download the workbook and workbook answer key for each module, which give us the opportunity to practice our reading and writing with the printable exercises, which are there to help us to reinforce speaking and comprehension as we learn to correctly understand the grammar and sentence structures in the French language.

In addition, included in the package for registered users are the following components:

Online quizzes, learning activities and French Culture. The online quizzes include things like online flash cards, listening comprehension & spelling, 2 challenging games (Scatter & Space race) and a test section that gives parents 4 different evaluation options.

The authors of this program are a married couple who are teachers living in St-Rédempteur, Québec, a suburb of Quebec City with their two children, who both attend school in French and are homeschooled in English. They are so passionate about French culture and the French language!

In their own words, here is how they began this endeavor:

“We began as a small tutoring service which came about through requests for tutoring from friends in the homeschool community. This eventually led to the development of a DVD French curriculum for home use. In August 2010, in order to make it more affordable and accessible, French Essentials was converted from top to bottom into a new downloadable format and http://www.frenchessentials.com was launched.”

If your child (or you, for that matter!) have had any exposure to the French language, there is a placement test you can use here in order to find out where you need to begin. WE began at the very beginning, of course, lol!

Here is what you’ll see when you log in after purchasing . . .

You can also go to the online exercises . . .

Or to the section on French culture!

If you go here, you can see a sample lesson from module one, and here is a sample of one of the videos, also from module one . . .

For more information about how the program works, what you can expect, and several sample lessons and videos from later modules, you can go here

What I like about the French Essentials Full Access Online Program is that as I said above, it has allowed me to download everything to my computer. I like that the sound and video files are actually embedded right into the downloaded lessons, enabling us to read it, hear it, see it, and say it.

What I didn’t like was that for some reason I couldn’t do either the sound files or the videos on the laptop computers my boys use for homeschooling, so we had to crowd around my desktop (which is newer) for our lessons. I had no problem at all on my desktop when I was prompted to install needed programs in order to use the sound files and videos, but on the laptops, I got nowhere.

While my kids were able to follow the read it, listen to it, view the video, and then repeat what was being said, at this time the worksheets are proving to be too much for them. But as I’ve said before, I often need to tweak homeschool curriculum to accommodate their various special needs, and it is my hope that a little later on, they’ll be able to handle them. 🙂 Right now, though, I’m hearing an awful lot of “French is too hard, Mom!” 🙂

I believe this is an excellent program, especially for the home learner. In fact, even though this one turned out to be a bit too much for my kids, it isn’t too much for me, and I think I will continue on with it myself to see how much *I* can learn! 🙂

To read all about what my fellow Schoolhouse Review Crew members thought of French Essentials, please click on the graphic below!
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As always, I would just love it if you would join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”. Just go to the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog and enter your email information. And please, if you enjoy “My Journeys Through Life”, go here and “like” our Facebook page. Never miss another update! 🙂

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Filed under education, Foreign language homeschooling, French Essentials Full Access Online Program, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Language Arts, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, special needs education, TOS Post, TOS Review

Exploring Creation With Chemistry and Physics . . . A T.O.S. Review

If you are looking for a hands on, Charlotte Mason Style Homeschool Science Curriculum with a definite Christian world view, you will certainly find it in Exploring Creation With Chemistry And Physics, written by Jeanie Fulbright and published by Apologia. This curriculum is written for children anywhere from kindergarten through grade six, and is perfect, in my opinion, for working together as a group, even in a multi-age group.

As reviewers, we were allowed to select any two of the notebooking journals which go along with the text book. Because I had hopes that at least one of my kids (“The Artist”) would be able to use the Regular Notebooking Journal, I asked for it . . .

Along with a copy of the Junior Notebooking Journal.

Because of a mistake in shipping, I actually received two of the Junior Notebooking Journals. Apologia was kind enough to replace the missing journals for those of us who received the wrong ones, and ESPECIALLY kind enough to allow us to keep the wrong ones! In the meanwhile, I was able to acquire two more Junior Notebooking Journals from other reviewers. 🙂 As it happened, this turned out to be a real blessing, because although “The Artist” probably CAN handle the regular Notebooking Journal, he definitely preferred the Jr. one.

The Notebooking Journals are very similar, but the Junior Notebooking Journal actually has a lot more in it for someone who likes art, and the Regular Notebooking Journal has significantly more writing to do, something “The Artist” gets balky about if he has to do it with handwriting as opposed to using the computer.

One of the best things about the Apologia is that when we use it as a read-aloud (and we do!), the text is very easy to understand, and there are plenty of good quality color pictures to go along with the text.

Spread throughout each chapter (Lesson) are boxes with the heading “Try This!”. It may be a small experiment, a game, or something else, but it always goes right along with what is being taught in that section. Some of the “Try This!” sections we have done are:

The 20 Questions Game, which teaches the skill of being able to describe the properties of matter.

Figuring out the volume of a small rock using the method discovered by Archimedes . . .

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during which we discovered that this small rock from our yard came in at about 50 cubic centimeters.

We began learning about density using two eggs, two glasses of warm water, and one half cup of salt . . .

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We learned more about mass, volume and density by seeing whether different objects would sink or float in a bowl of water . . .

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And we also did one other “Try This” to learn about buoyancy. The idea was to build a foil boat, put it into our “ocean” of warm salt water . . .
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then begin adding pennies (pirate treasure) to see how many it took to make the boat sink . . .
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In case you were wondering, it took 56 pennies!

In the main text-book “Exploring Creation With Chemistry and Physics“, there are 14 lessons. The breakdown of the lesson plans are in the Notebooking Journal and the Junior Notebooking Journal, with the suggested pace of two days per week, doing one lesson per week. As usual, we are slowing this down quite a bit, in order that all of my children can really get as much as possible out of this curriculum. I think that’s one of the best things about homeschooling, the fact that we can go at our own pace, tweaking here and there as needed to accommodate the various special needs my kids have.

There are also a multitude of lapbook style things in both of the Notebooking Journals for the student to cut out, fill in, and then glue to the appropriate page of their notebook. We are just getting ready to begin one of them, in fact!

There are vocabulary activities, such as crossword puzzles, word find puzzles, match-up sheets, vocabulary puzzle pieces, etc, and, should you need them, the answers are all in the back of the Notebooking Journal!

Here are just a couple of pictures from our Notebooking Journals:

From the Junior Notebooking Journal, you can see that my kids are not carbon copies of one another when it comes to coloring!
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Here is the one picture I managed to get of “The Artist” beginning a crossword puzzle in the regular Notebooking Journal, before going back to the Junior Notebooking Journal, which he very much prefers! 🙂
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Apologia is a good fit for my family, and we will continue to use it, but with one small adjustment in addition to slowing the pace down quite a bit. The only other change I will make is that when they have a copywork page with a Bible verse, I will be having them use our King James Bible, rather than the version used in the curriculum. As my regular readers are aware, that is my one pet peeve with Christian homeschool curriculum, it is mostly written using other versions these days. I would love it if this were offered with the option of being published using the King James Version for those of us who will use no other version of the Bible. In the meantime, I guess I will just continue to adjust for that by typing the verses out from the King James Bible and then adhering them to the Notebooking Journal over the other version.

The Textbook “Exploring Creation With Chemistry and Physics” by Jeanie Fulbright can be found here at the cost of $39.00.

The “Chemistry and Physics Notebooking Journal for Exploring Creation With Chemistry and Physics” can be found here for $24.00.

The “Junior Chemistry and Physics Notebooking Journal for Exploring Creation With Chemistry and Physics” is available here for $24.00.

My children and I are very much enjoying this Homeschool Science Curriculum, and I hope you will, too!

To find out what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members thought of “Exploring Creation With Chemistry and Physics“, please click on the graphic below!
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As always, I would love it if you would join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Just go to the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog and enter your email information. Also, if you enjoy “My Journeys”, please, go here and “Like” our Facebook page. Never miss an update again! 🙂

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Filed under Apologia, Christian faith, education, family, home education, homeschool products, Homeschool Science Curriculum, homeschooling, Kids, Lapbooking, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, special needs education, TOS Post, TOS Review

Reasons For Homeschooling . . .

I came across this really good article “Comparing Homeschooling vs Public Schooling: Ten Reasons For Homeschooling (A Public School Teacher Tells All)“. I think it’s well worth reading, so I wanted to share it with you.

Some of MY reasons for homeschooling are:

It is the absolute best choice for my kids. That is more important than making the best choice for ME.

My kids are not being indoctrinated with a secular worldview.

My kids have a variety of special needs, so homeschooling allows us to work at their own paces, and in the ways they each learn best.

My kids do NOT need the sort of “socialization” found in schools, whether public or private.

We are not tied to a formal schedule. We can take off days for other things as we wish to do so, and we can work school in around life, as opposed to the other way around.

I’m sure if I sat here and thought about it, I could list a whole bunch of other reasons, but these are just the ones that came to mind right now.

Whether you homeschool, or your kids are in public or private school, I hope your choice is being made solely based upon what is best for YOUR children, not based on what other people may think of your decision. It’s not their decision, it is yours. Make it count.

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Filed under Christian faith, education, encouragement, family, home education, just me, Kids, special needs education, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

VocabularySpellingCity . . . A T.O.S. Review

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Do you want a value packed, full of fun online language arts program for your homeschoolers? Well, the VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership might just be what you are looking for.

When I first looked at this program, in the process of deciding whether or not to request the review, my reaction was W.O.W., there is SO much available there, and this program is good for any students from kindergarten through 12th grade!

I have four boys, with very different learning abilities and styles, and VocabularySpellingCity is a site they are ALL enjoying.

My twins, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” are, as you know, still working on learning to read. They are getting better, but VocabularySpellingCity seems to be actually helping them to comprehend the words a little better, as well. I have them working with “Word Family” lists, which are available in weekly segments, along with a great number of other types of lists, which you are free to import into your account and use.

With my older boys, “The Batman” and “The Artist”, I decided to use (at this time) themed lists, such as “October – Harvest”, for example.

VocabularySpellingCity takes a word list and wrings everything it possibly can from it. By the time they are done, your children will know pretty much everything they can about the words on the list you have assigned them!

Here is the assignment section from one of “Mr. Loquacious’s” weeks . . .

Activity Completed On Time on Task Status Score Missed Words Total 37 min
Spelling TeachMe 10/22/2013 4:11 pm 1 min Complete

Test-N-Teach 10/22/2013 4:12 pm 2 mins Complete

Audio Word Match 10/22/2013 4:15 pm 1 min Complete

HangMouse 10/22/2013 4:16 pm 7 mins Complete

MatchIt Definitions 10/22/2013 4:23 pm 4 mins Complete

Sentence Unscramble 10/22/2013 4:27 pm 13 mins Complete

Spelling TestMe 10/22/2013 4:41 pm 1 min Complete 100 %

Vocabulary TestMe 10/22/2013 4:46 pm 2 mins Complete 75 % get, set

WordFind 10/22/2013 4:48 pm 5 mins Complete

Word Unscramble 10/22/2013 4:54 pm 1 min Complete

As you can see, even though he doesn’t HAVE to do everything in one day, he was having so much fun, he just kept going! I will admit, though, that after the first couple of weeks, I realized they were all doing one or two assigned activities and then just moving right over to playing the games, so I’ve switched things around somewhat and told them they have to do the assigned things first! 🙂

Some of the learning activities that can be assigned are pictured below:

The Word-O-Rama game . . .
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Flash Card . . .
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Letter Fall
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Full disclosure, neither “Mr. Loquacious” or “The Puzzler” were very fond of “Letter Fall”, and asked me to change to something else on their assignments. They had a hard time with this activity, and the speed of it.

It is very easy though, to switch up the activities in an assignment. You are given a good size list of options, each one taking your chosen word list and teaching all sorts of things with it, from spelling, vocabulary (definitions, use it in a sentence, etc), there are word find activities, crosswords, just so many ideas that you can use to keep your kids interested long enough to really learn those words!

Here is a look at what you can offer to them as assignments . . .
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Here are “The Batman” and “The Artist”, both working on their VocabularySpellingCity assignments . . .

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And here are “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler”, working on theirs!
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Watch this short video to learn more about VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership . . .

Now, while you CAN get a free membership to VocabularySpellingCity, which would definitely give you a lot, including spelling lists, the parent page, printables and spelling tests, along with some other resources, I think the VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership is a great deal. The cost is just $29.99 for an entire year, which covers up to five students.

Here, you can see a comparison checklist between the free membership and the premium checklist . . .

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As you can see, there is SO much available when you go with the premium membership! This has for sure turned into one of those products that the boys will have included into their educational schedule for this year, because, as you probably already are aware, I feel strongly that whenever possible, education can, and should, be fun. This is fun. When I have boys actually asking if they can go again after their brothers have finished doing their time on VocabularySpellingCity, well then, I think we definitely have a winner, don’t you?

To find out what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members thought of VocabularySpellingCity, please click the graphic below!
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As always, I would love it if you would join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Please enter your email information in the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog, and also, do please go here, and “like” our Facebook page! Never miss another update! 🙂

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Filed under education, educational games, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Kids, Language Arts, Learn to Read, Reading, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, special needs education, TOS Review, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013, VocabularySpellingCity