girlygirl

Learning challenges and its affect of high school

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girlygirl

I'm looking for some advice. My youngest daughter is 13 (July 30th birthday) and is currently doing Core G and it is technically her 8th grade year. However, she has learning challenges that are currently being diagnosed. We are looking at ADD and waiting on neuropsych testing results for further diagnoses. It is also suspected that she has a language processing disorder. She has great difficulty in math, I suspect dyscalculia (though not mentioned during testing.) I am waiting for her test results to see where to go from here. She is currently doing TT7. 

My question concerns next year. She will technically be in ninth grade but we are considering holding her back because 1) math - pre-algebra in 9th grade, I can put it on her transcript but I don't think it will count as a credit, 2) math affects science - again credit issues, 3) maturity and independence - because of her learning difficulties and trouble processing what she reads she is not independent. I am her constant interpreter, re-explaining things in a way that she can understand what is being communicated which is very time consuming and 4) just generally not at the same level as her 9th grade peers due to the learning problems.

With that said, and never before having taught high school to a child with learning challenges, is that enough to warrant holding her back or should we move forward at her pace like we've always done but it will just be 9th grade. How does that work when it comes to credits, SATs in the future, and college applications?? 

Are your children with learning challenges on level with high school courses? What does high school look like for a child with learning challenges?

She doesn't know what she wants to do in the future (she's only 13) and so she wants leave the opportunity for college on the table, as do I. I don't care if she goes or not, but I want to prepare her so that she can if she so chooses. 

Any advice, input or similar situations appreciated.

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Sandwich in Wi

You can certainly do anything you want with her grade level.  I have one who was supposed to begin 8th grade, but was ready for high school classes (Algebra, Biology, etc.) and I didn't want to mess around with putting middle school classes on her transcript, KWIM? So we "skipped" 8th grade and called that year 9th. She ended up studying abroad her 12th grade year and is now taking a gap year before college, so it turns out she will actually be a college freshman at the same time as her public school peers from before she skipped 8th grade.

My youngest son who has auditory processing disorders and some ADHD and some attachment issues repeated 4th grade.  We called it 4.5th grade. He has an April birthday, so he'll turn 12 this spring and then be a 6th grader in the fall.  This has really helped with maturity issues and put him on a better level with peers.  He just doesn't get social stuff very well and he fits in better with kids a year younger than he is.  Academically, it has caught him up pretty well.

When I was trying to decide whether to repeat him, someone suggested it could be a problem when he turns 18 and has not yet graduated.  That he could rebel and refuse to finish school.  I suppose that's a possibility, but for now this has turned out to be the right choice for him.

I think now, in this transition time before high school is a good time to make the decision to repeat if you are going to do it.  Alternatively, you can stretch out high school to 5 years if you need to.

My son won't be doing a traditional high school load.  I'll keep moving him forward academically to the best of his ability, but I'm not going to stress if he completes a traditional high school curriculum.  Kids are in different tracks in public school and those with IEPs don't complete the same courses in the same way as college-bound kids.

I'd say keep doing what she needs and keep moving her forward in her skills--study skills, high school skills, life skills.  keep helping her learn what she needs and if it takes a little longer for her to get to the end, that's ok!

How does SHE feel about either repeating 8th grade or taking 5 years for high school?  I think if you can explain the options to her in light of helping her be most ready for her next step and getting her input, it will go most smoothly.

Blessings,

Sandwich

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Merry

I think it's certainly worth considering. In fact, I think you have an "easier out" than some because of her birthday. You can let her know that you didn't realize when she was little that many students with summer birthdays actually wait a year to start school, and that she'd be more in line with other students if she does an extra junior high year. 

I think it's possible to still move her on but you might both feel more relaxed and under less pressure to keep up if you consider waiting to move up to 9th grade. 

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camelschool

My DS has a September birthday, and we started him early (by my 'home' state standards--we were overseas), because he was bright and ready for kindergarten. He did have issues focusing (starting at walls), but he was way beyond the level of the preschool kids he would otherwise have been with. We've been through a few international and cross-continental moves since then, and the last one, at the beginning of his 8th grade year, caused us to lose a lot of school time, while we worked on language and learning to live here. While he wasn't technically 'behind' by U.S. standards (he would have been doing the Singapore 3 book in 10th instead of 9th, which is still ahead of most public school students in the the U.S.), I felt that he really wasn't ready to receive formal grades, and I wanted to feel the freedom to slow things down a bit, and to allow us another year to cover some more history/ lit we would otherwise miss. Also, whenever we did go back to Oregon, the school district always said he was a grade behind what I said, despite the forms I had filled out. I explained this to him, and he seemed fine with it. It has made my life so much easier over the past two years. He is now a much more solid freshman--still struggling with the ADD, but I am able to be a lot more relaxed, and am getting a better feel for how to tailor school for him to meet his particular needs.

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girlygirl
On 2/14/2017 at 5:28 PM, Sandwich in Wi said:

How does SHE feel about either repeating 8th grade or taking 5 years for high school?  I think if you can explain the options to her in light of helping her be most ready for her next step and getting her input, it will go most smoothly.

This is where my heart strings are really being pulled. She does not like the idea of waiting a year to start high school. She sees it as repeating a grade. She hates being tested for learning disabilities and does not want to be tested further. (I am pushing to get her full diagnosis so if she needs accommodations in the future she will have access to them.) I think she sees it as a big spotlight on her weaknesses and holding her back a year just cements it. I try to put myself in her shoes and I can see how she might feel as though she failed. (when honestly I feel like I have failed her) I keep telling her that she is not repeating. We started her too early. We've been avoiding holding her back for several years now. Substituting Cores at her level instead of moving her forward in SL so that she would have time to mature. It helped to relieve the pressure but heading into high school with grades, credits, and testing has just caught up with us and we are facing this decision again. 

I see it as relief from the pressure. She would finally be where "she is supposed to be" according to ps standards. I have also decided that SL is just not for her and I plan to tailor a curriculum to her in SL style but with books that are more suited to her learning difficulties and more in tune with her interests. Homeschooling her has been the hardest experience for both of us and I just want to bring life and joy back to our homeschool. I feel like an extra year might give us permission to do that. PS is not an option (Baltimore City failing school system) and we can't afford private. 

I'm also just scared to make the wrong decision and asking what if I CAN do more interest led, tailored curriculum SL style, but beef it up so it will count as 9th grade giving credit where credits are due and if need be add a year at the end??? I'm so confused. Been praying for years really. I wish someone could just tell me what to do but of course that is not going to happen ;)

Thanks for your replies so far :) 

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Merry
4 hours ago, girlygirl said:

This is where my heart strings are really being pulled. She does not like the idea of waiting a year to start high school. She sees it as repeating a grade. She hates being tested for learning disabilities and does not want to be tested further. (I am pushing to get her full diagnosis so if she needs accommodations in the future she will have access to them.) I think she sees it as a big spotlight on her weaknesses and holding her back a year just cements it. I try to put myself in her shoes and I can see how she might feel as though she failed. (when honestly I feel like I have failed her) I keep telling her that she is not repeating. We started her too early. We've been avoiding holding her back for several years now. Substituting Cores at her level instead of moving her forward in SL so that she would have time to mature. It helped to relieve the pressure but heading into high school with grades, credits, and testing has just caught up with us and we are facing this decision again. 

I see it as relief from the pressure. She would finally be where "she is supposed to be" according to ps standards. I have also decided that SL is just not for her and I plan to tailor a curriculum to her in SL style but with books that are more suited to her learning difficulties and more in tune with her interests. Homeschooling her has been the hardest experience for both of us and I just want to bring life and joy back to our homeschool. I feel like an extra year might give us permission to do that. PS is not an option (Baltimore City failing school system) and we can't afford private. 

I'm also just scared to make the wrong decision and asking what if I CAN do more interest led, tailored curriculum SL style, but beef it up so it will count as 9th grade giving credit where credits are due and if need be add a year at the end??? I'm so confused. Been praying for years really. I wish someone could just tell me what to do but of course that is not going to happen ;)

Thanks for your replies so far :) 

I totally get all of those fears. I sometimes wanted that relief from pressure too--but things did actually work out anyway. You might consider whether you can leverage her desire--"Okay, we'll go ahead with 9th grade if you complete the testing." Use the diabetes argument or the glasses argument with her. If someone has diabetes, it's appropriate for them to get medical treatment. If someone can't see without glasses, it's appropriate for them to wear glasses. If someone has a lower processing speed or dyslexia or executive function limitations--it's appropriate for the student to get accommodations such as untimed tests. You can also let her know that when a student qualifies for accommodations, it is 100% up to the student whether they want to use the accommodations. My one that has them uses it mainly for essay tests or tests that will be significant in length and also for the ACT--but does not use them for quizzes, multiple choice and short answer tests etc... unless the teacher is really hard. This matters too much to her future to not do, and she should have the option. 

I'd probably reiterate to her that you want what's best for her, and that you want it to be fair--that asking her to do things that other kids are not required to do for another school year seems like a lot of pressure and you want her to enjoy her high school years. (Has she thought about doing a year of something interest-led as a "gap year" between 8th and 9th? for example) But if she still is very negative about waiting a year, I'd let her know you'll support her decision and you can work together to make it work.

As for her classes--yes, you can do a lot that's interest led within the requirements of a college-prep education. Here are some things we did (and I don't know that we were as creative as some in what they have done): 

My son wanted to do Japanese for a foreign language--not what I would have chosen, but we found materials and let him work at his pace.

He also did Japanese history and Culture for an elective history credit--he loves history, and this was a good match. He also did extra history courses by choice.

Literature--we totally chose titles he would be interested in from the Sonlight lists (and a few other places, if I came across a book I thought he'd like). I aimed for about 8-12 books a year to read, and then I also read aloud some additional books to give exposure to more literature. 

He doesn't love science, so he did Apologia Physical, Robotics, and then Biology (I insisted on either bio. or chem. A lot of our state schools only require one of those two in the "3 years of science" requirement, so I was okay with doing that.

And then we filled in with electives based on his interests.

My daughter has had a lot of choices too. She does love science, especially biology, so she did the regular bio-chem-physics, and then advanced bio this year. She hates history, so I only required 1 year US, 1 year World, a semester of Government, and then a semester social studies elective (she chose Psychology--it was only a half credit, so I did an easier book than Sonlight's). She did more music classes than my son (violin, voice, guitar), but he focused on one instrument (guitar). She babysits a lot so we did early childhood development as a class. He volunteered as a teen leader for a children's theater group, and his hours from two summers were enough for a half-credit fine arts class for theater. 

There are so many interesting things you can do. I'd start keeping track of things she likes and looking for ways to make them into credits--think outside the box. Hands on experiences count! What is she passionate about? Find ways to let her pursue those interests.

A credit is generally completing about 80% of a text book, or working 150-180 hours for an academic course (or as few as 120 for an elective). If she's learning and growing and being challenged (but not overly much), you can probably give her high school credit for it. Don't worry about Sonlight's courses. Adjust the literature as needed and discuss. I always did 30 minutes reading, 30 minutes writing for English credits (sometimes some grammar or spelling in there as needed). A year of that makes up a credit. I chose a selection of easier and harder books (I forget what core your dd will be up to, but even Core H has some good high school level books. And if something is too difficult, don't feel badly about reading it aloud or doing an audio book. Totally an appropriate accommodation as you help her grow.)

Do you have a good community college locally? Their requirements will be less (you can always get in but usually they have minimum requirements or have the student do some remedial courses. Ours requires certain ACT scores for math, English, and reading, and requires the student have biology in high school, for example). A student can start at a CC and transfer, and it can give them a couple of extra years to develop before going off. I remember it took so much pressure off of me when I thought, "you know, if my student ends up needing a remedial writing or math class, that's okay. That's why those classes are available." 

You're right that Pre-algebra won't count for high school credit, but if that's only the first year, she may still get her math in. If not, she's not the first student in that situation, and again, that's why colleges offer some remedial classes. Don't get too hung up on her struggle spots. Support her, work on those areas, but make sure you are also focusing on a passion and an area for her to shine each year. When my son wanted to take Japanese, I thought no way, it's too hard, I can't help him etc... But, because it was HIS passion, and I couldn't know it--he actually was able to develop a sense of expertise. I didn't know how to say things, so he could teach me. I didn't know the difference between characters, but he did. I didn't understand certain cultural habits, and he could explain them to me. It was so good for his confidence to be the "expert" in our relationship on this topic. I didn't care how far he progressed as long as he put in the daily time, enjoyed it, and was learning. 

So...find those passion areas for her too, and see how you might work them in. 

Homeschooling high school, especially when a student has some special needs, is not for the faint of heart! But on the other hand, it's really an experience you can treasure too. Give yourself and her the freedom to be a little atypical and bring some of that joy back. If you come up with passions and can't figure out how to turn them into a class--ask on here! Maybe we can help. Hang in there!

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girlygirl

Wow, Merry, thank you.

 

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Heritage of Sons

You weren't even writing to me, but I have to thank you for your well-worded and thought out post, Merry.  I found it a very helpful and encouraging reminder!

Especially in light of this school year for me in particular... my own health issues that have affected homeschooling in a big way.

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Renai

I know this is an older post, but wanted to comment. The testing will help now and when in college, and pre-algebra can count if she shows a documented disability. 

 

When my now-11th grader was going in 8th, I remember a high school teacher telling me my daughter would not have been held back for her issues  (I held her in 4th), but would have had an IEP and received accommodations in her grade level. She did a repeat of pre-algebra in a semester at a charter high school in 9th, and it counts on her transcript  (and everyone else who took that course in 9th).

I did bring her back home at her request in 10th last year, and I currently am doing Integrated Math II. Her math course this year includes a pre-algebra class she is dual-enrolling at the community college, and the Time 4 Learning geometry course. She is not going to get to Algebra 2, but it is documented in evaluations and an IEP. I can't force her to get math, and waiting more years wasn't going to help. The evaluations have also helped her get accommodations in college, although she hasn't used them. Colleges are getting good at accommodating these days.

She still needs help socially,  so I give her that help. She's come to realize herself that she might need more time, so we're trying to rake up funds that will send her as an exchange student for a semester. She wants to go the fall after her official senior year, and then I'd graduate her. Or something like that. We are basically flying by the seat of our pants, but I have to meet this child where she is. If it means pre-algebra and Culinary Chemistry, so be it.

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Renai

Merry,  my dd has recently decided to study Japanese, because of anime! She technically could get by with not doing a foreign language because we homeschooled bilingually and she CLEPped our language in August. But she's doing it on her own, so I'm going with it. I have some resources since it was a language I started long ago, and she's also found culture lectures on Great Courses Plus. It's nice to see her excited about a study.

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