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Some Great Resources
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sojo



Joined: 09 Mar 2008
Posts: 5
Location: Lake County, California

Post Some Great Resources Reply with quote
My son is 11 years old with Down syndrome. This year we found a few items that really helped our schooling, and would be good for many kids with learning challenges. In case this might help other families:

Math: We switched to Steck Vaughn, Mastering Math. Steck Vaughn is the special education arm of Harcourt publishing. The text is a workbook with space to write answers, large enough for kids with fine motor problems. There are some photos and illustrations, but for the most part the layout is cleaner and simpler for kids with distractability or vision problems. What I really like is how the lessons continually go back to review earlier information -- much more than the usual text. And fewer problems per page for the slower worker to feel successful. The repeating of information to reinforce and give the child a lot of moments of success is terrific. The information is not "dumbed down" but just presented in a clearer, simpler and reinforcing manner. This publisher aims at public and private schools, but their 800 number was VERY accommodating to us as home schoolers. You can google Steck Vaughn to get to their website.

Reading Comprehension: Our son reads very well, despite his disability... probably better than many public school kids. But due to his speech delays (mostly expressive, not receptive), it is always hard to be sure his reading comprehension is proceeding on course. We found a terrific Reading Comprehension resource called, "The Five W's" by Remedia Publications. Each lesson in this inexpensive workbook presents a factual newspaper article followed by classic journalistic questions of who, what, when, where and why to test the students comprehension AND train them to think of these things as they read. I saw an improvement in my son's reading comprehension in just a few lessons. The short, articles are amusing to chldren, educational and non-distracting visually.

Speech/Articulation: I purchased an inexpensive Toobaloo -- a simple plastic tool that works like a low-tech speaker. Held to the head like a telephone receiver, the child talks into one end and hears their voice amplified at the other end by simply physics -- no batteries! Just a few minutes a day, which the child thinks as a game, and you can see the child working to improve their own articulation. I was so impressed, I started carrying them in my little online store. Under $5, virtually non-breakable... a really nifty little item.

All for now, but would love to talk with other parents home schooling special needs kids.

sojo
Sun Apr 06, 2008 9:53 am View user's profile Send private message
zemanek



Joined: 08 Jul 2008
Posts: 5

Post Baby with DS Reply with quote
Hello! I know you drafted this e-mail a while back, but I wanted to introduce myself. My name is Lisa and I have 4 children, the youngest of which has Down Syndrome. She was born in March and is 4 months old. So far she is doing great - she makes eye contact, smiles at times, can roll from tummy to back, and tries to vocalize a little bit (coos, etc.). She is also nursing very well!

I look forward to hearing from you and any others with a DS child. Our journey with her has just started and I must say that she is an absolute JOY! We love her to pieces!

It sounds like your son is doing well. He is quite smart!! You are very blessed!

God Bless and hope to hear from you again. I intend to HS my daughter, so I'm very interested in your experiences with your son.

Lisa
Sun Aug 03, 2008 11:38 pm View user's profile Send private message
sojo



Joined: 09 Mar 2008
Posts: 5
Location: Lake County, California

Post Reply with quote
Hi Lisa,

Yes, its been awhile since I posted! Sam just turned 12 years old on Saturday. He is doing better than ever. I work as a special needs advocate, so I've had 12 years to see so many kids with DS. I can say, unequivocally, that the ones whose parents work closely with them thrive beyond imagination, and homeschooling is ideal.

Your goal right now is to just love your baby to pieces, of course! But also read her books, talk to her constantly, and introduce her to as many experiences as you can. Swinging, rocking, percussion (rhythmic tapping to music or chanting on her tummy, back, legs), sensory toys and/or blanket, music, poetry.... its all so important. I'd walk Sam around at that age talking about pictures on the wall, colors, "this is a shadow, see.... look Sam's hand is a shadow!" Talk, talk, talk!!

We started Sam reading at 2 years old using Love and Learning (www.loveandlearning.com), but you can also make your own reading materials. Sam LOVES L&L, and he LOVED reading... still does. He is presently into Scooby-doo chapter books - about a 5th grade level. He uses an Eyelighter to help his flow.

And never, ever, ever take an "expert"s word at what your child is capable. Honest-to-goodness, Sam took his first 4 steps just as his PT was telling me he wasn't capable of doing so yet. He walked from me to his PT's arms! His karate instructor wanted to try him out on using sticks. I thought, "no way, that takes a lot of coordination, and that is NOT Sam's strength..." The instructor thought the same but said, "but you never know with Sam, he just seems to like to break the rules..." Sure enough, he turned out to progress faster than many non-disabled students, and progressed to using 2 sticks right away.

Gotta run - heading to the pool. But my home email is cunning@hughes.net if you want to chat more.

Blessings,

Jo
Mon Aug 04, 2008 10:55 am View user's profile Send private message
KarenH



Joined: 21 Aug 2008
Posts: 7

Post DS kids Reply with quote
I am excited about the prospect of conversing with other moms who not only have home schooling in common, but a Down Syndrome child as well. My little girl, the sixth of seven children, has Down Syndrome. She will be 9 years old next week. I belong to a Catholic Home School Support Group, but with my family and school obligations, I have a hard time making it to meetings. In addition, I believe I am the only parent using Kolbe in our group and for a time was the only mom of a DS kid. Now there are a few other DS kids, but they are babies. While I can provide support for them, I'd like to meet other moms successfully home schooling their DS kids. My daughter is a sweet, loving little girl and such a blessing to our family in ways I could never imagine. She gets so excited and is so proud of herself when she accomplishes something, making teaching her such a joy. She is also so eager to please those around her. Because of the pace and need for one-on-one attention, she requires a lot of patience from me. Keeping her interested also requires me to change approaches often. These last two facts make the support of those who share this journey and understand the obstacles so necessary. I look forward to all the input.
Wed Nov 05, 2008 10:08 am View user's profile Send private message
sojo



Joined: 09 Mar 2008
Posts: 5
Location: Lake County, California

Post Reply with quote
Hi Karen!! Yes, it can be a challenge to get out and do things with our kids. I only have the one child, but since I work full time (I work out of a home office at home), plus home school, and then Karate, equestrian therapy and so forth, I'm just always short of time.

We are having a grand time homeschooling this year. We are starting to see some real progress in math, and his Spanish is going gangbusters! I'm just so pleased with my new curriculum. I switched almost entirely to curriculum adapted for kids with learning disabilities/special needs, and it saves me so much time from having to constantly adapt the regular stuff.

We don't have a Catholic home school support group nearby. I joined an Evangelical home school group for a few years, and they were very nice, but we were the only ones with a child who had special needs. And lately, the few events weren't stuff we could really participate in, so we dropped out.

So I'm really glad Kolbe put together this online program. It has been a bit slow taking off -- we moms with SpEd kids are a pretty busy bunch! But hopefully we can gain momentum.

Jo
Thu Nov 06, 2008 9:41 am View user's profile Send private message
KarenH



Joined: 21 Aug 2008
Posts: 7

Post Reply with quote
Jo
Thank you for your response! You mentioned how much you enjoy your curriculum. I know in your first post you recommended Steck Vaughn Mastering Math, and I have already googled that based on your recommendation. Do you have one source from which you order the special needs curriculum? Do you order online, primarily? Do you know any retail stores that sell the toobaloo? What other books do you recommend for other subjects (reading, writing, science, etc.)? I am always looking into big and better things to help me teach Louise. I would like to know specifically what you've found to work, since your son is nearly the same age as Louise. I realize that every child is different and there is no "one size fits all" program, but when someone enthusiastically endorses something, I am excited to check it out. Thanks for your help! It is great "meeting you"!
Smile Karen
Mon Nov 10, 2008 8:37 am View user's profile Send private message
sojo



Joined: 09 Mar 2008
Posts: 5
Location: Lake County, California

Post Reply with quote
Hi Karen! OK, I order the Steck Vaughn Mastering Math online at their website: www.HarcourtAchieve.com. Be prepared for a round of frustration -- it is positively the worst website I've ever experienced. It mostly features programs for whole classrooms, so you really have to hunt down the books. It might be easier to order by phone. Their phone number is 1-800-531-5015. Sam is doing level E -- I don't know what grade that is supposed to be, but I think it is 6th grade? I'll give you the ISBN number for his book, maybe you can do a search on that instead: 0-7398-9204-5. If you still can't find it, let me know and I'll enter the dreaded website myself -- hopefully I'll remember how I finally figured it out and I'll give you the URL directly to the page. If I hadn't had such success with the level D book last year, I would have given up this past summer. The website it that poor.

I loved the Toobaloo so much that I actually sell them in my own store on ecrater: http://funoutsidethebox.ecrater.com/ You'll see the eyelighters Sam uses when he reads. He isn't totally reliant on them, but he prefers using them and he seems to read faster with their help.

I was so delighted with Steck-Vaughn for math last year that in the process of fighting with their website to find this year's book, I also found they had a History and Science book, too! I like them both, especially the history. They are softcover, inexpensive but good quality and incorporate text with workbook sheets all in one. The history book is in full color with lots of good art work. A chapter is only a few pages followed by a worksheet. There's an optional video that has short bits about some of the high points in the book. The book focuses on the important concepts of each historical period rather than blathering on and on with names and dates.

The Science book is a little more difficult, but learning about plant and animal cells, meiosis and meitosis just doesn't have the same "fun" as learning about animals and growing seeds. But at least the format is about as painless as you can get. On the left side is a ONE page lesson with some illustrations. Then on the right side is a ONE page worksheet. So you can glance at the questions first and then as you read the lesson, you can highlight the points that you know will be on the worksheet. And then you just sorta do an open book kind of replay. The language is simplified so Sam can read a lot of it with me.

The history book: America's Story, Book One to 1865, Steck-Vaughn

The science book: Focus on Science, Steck Vaughn, Level F

Now for English, we found a fabulous program created by a home school mom. I'm not sure if she has a SpEd kid herself, but I found out about this program from other SpEd moms who raved about it. Go to www.GrowingWithGrammar.com and take a look. Sam is doing Grade 5.

I don't know what other subjects you are doing. We are doing Spanish, Music (studying Opera), and we use Handwriting Without Tears program for his writing. We've used HWT for years now.

Religion - I have no clue. I'm using the 5th grade materials that Kolbe recommends, but he really can't do much of the workbook. We just read the chapters and discuss as best I can... I let Sam watch EWTN kids programs, and he probably gets more out of that to tell the truth. Just hard to figure out what to put in as a sample of work for the quarterly report.

Sorry so long!

Jo
Sat Nov 15, 2008 4:31 pm View user's profile Send private message
KarenH



Joined: 21 Aug 2008
Posts: 7

Post Reply with quote
Thank you for all the wonderful information. I will look into all your recommendations. If I have any difficulties or additional questions, I will post another message here. You don't need to go to any more trouble hunting down materials. Thank you for all you've done so far. I appreciate your help very much. I'm going to check out your store on ecrater as well.
Karen
Wed Nov 19, 2008 11:21 am View user's profile Send private message
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