Sleepy Knitter

need help choosing products for my 3 special learners

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Sleepy Knitter

Greetings! I need help choosing Sonlight curriculum, please! I have three special needs learners entering 3rd, 5th, and 7th, respectively, and I need knowledgeable help in choosing products for them. We have home schooled one child for one semester through k12.com, the public online school, and it was difficult because of our child's NLD (non-verbal learning disorder), which involves poor visual-spatial closure (recognition of patterns), no number sense, and very little higher thinking skills. That's our soon-to-be 5th grader, who also has ADHD and high anxiety. Our third grader has ADHD, high anxiety, and FAE (Fetal Alcohol Effects) -- that child's primary needs have to do with organization skills and time management. I think that both of these children will be able to function at grade level, though I am not sure what "grade level" looks like in Sonlight -- just the straight-across 3rd grade "package" for a child entering 3rd grade? It is our 7th grader that I am most concerned about. She has cerebral palsy and poor working memory, and she speaks English as a second language (she will be 14 and will have had almost six years of American English by that point, coming from an orphanage background in China and a background of hearing loss and not having learned her original language well). She is two years behind her age group in school, and she functions about two years behind that. I'd say she's reading at a 5th grade level but not necessarily comprehending that high, and she learns math largely through rote memory. She's cheerful, hard working, and self-motivated, but really about four years behind where she "should" be at this age. She has an IEP (as does our 5th grader). I'm just not sure how to pick out curriculum for her. We have always public schooled, other than that one semester of k12.com for our child with NLD, so we are pretty much beginners. We are moving to central FL, and will be living on a college campus with a college library not far from our apartment, but it is a small library and not focused on the needs of school children -- there will be some great resources, though, and interlibrary loan access. Thank you! --Shawnee ("Sleepy Knitter")

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Sandwich in Wi

Welcome!  And congrats on choosing homeschooling!  I am so thankful that it is an option for our kiddos with special needs, so that we can meet them exactly where they are at and give them exactly what they need.

First of all, with SL, separate in your mind the Core part and the academics part.  The Core part--the history, Bible and literature really has no "grade level."  This is reading (most often aloud, by you, to the children) tons of great books.  Think about Charlotte's Web.  You could read this book aloud to your family and everyone, from Kindergarten up through your high schoolers (if you had any) would probably enjoy the story, right?  So think of the Cores in that sense.  You are reading great books that children (and adults) of a variety of ages can all enjoy and learn from.

Next, consider the academic part.  This would be the 3 R's: Reading, Writing and Math.  THESE have grade levels--or at least mastery levels.  Your kids can do 2nd grade or 4th grade or 6th grade math or whatever.  They can spell words, or they can't.  They can write a sentence, or they can write a paragraph.  They can read easy readers or they can read chapter books.

So you will want to choose a Core based on your children's ability to listen and comprehend what you read to them.   There is also a maturity and sensitivity level to consider, and with adopted kids, I've found, a level of base background knowledge.  Beginning at Core D, the material becomes significantly more difficult in terms of maturity level, sensitivity factor (people and animals dying in stories) and necessary background knowledge to comprehend the history.  The books are longer and the plots more complex. I think Core D is recommended generally in the 3rd grade package, but I'm saying it might be difficult for your crew, especially to begin with.

Depending on their ability to listen to and comprehend what you read aloud to them, and also their level of cultural background knowledge, I don't think it would be out of line to actually begin with the PreK cores.  There is another mom here who adopted older ESL children and she was very happy doing this with them. They worked through the cores very quickly at first (2 or 3 a year), reading all the books.  The PreK books are filled with fairy tales, poetry, rhymes, folk tales; all those things we take for granted with birth kids and kids with typical ability.  Especially if your kids weren't read to much as young children this might be the way to go. You could find many of those books at a good public library, if you just wanted to quickly read through them and not purchase the cores.  You could also do this over the summer.

After that, or perhaps instead, I'd begin with Core A.  It has a gentle introduction to history, is filled with great stories that aren't too long and some still have a few pictures.  It would be a good way to get your feet wet with SL.  If you find that it is going really well, you can go through it faster and finish in less than a year. 

Core B and C cover world history and they are a super introduction to this.  If you really feel that Core A will be beneath all of them (I don't) then this is where I would begin.  It will give everyone a good background for the rest of history.  It will be a gentle introduction to SL and for your high anxiety kids, it should give you a relaxed  two years to focus on the academics and meander through world history without a lot of pressure.  It's fun and interesting, there are no tests or memorizing of dates.

Beyond the Core, you'll choose the LA packages and the math that best fit each child's needs.  As for science, you can just look over the topics studied each year and pick the package you are most interested in.  They all work for a variety of age ranges.

So what I'm recommending is to chose ONE Core that everyone can share and then purchase the appropriate LA and math levels for each.  Also pick one science for everyone to share together. 

If they can listen well to chapter books and they have a good cultural base, I would do Core B with everyone.  If you feel that they would benefit from going back to the beginning and catching up with stories they've missed in their early childhood, I'd begin with the PreK cores.

 

Two really great blogs that might be of interest to you are Ordinary Time which talks a lot about teaching older ESL children (she has at least one child with CP) and Lajoy Family.  They have one child with pretty serious FAE. Both homeschool in pretty non-standard ways and they might give you some support for meeting your kids where they are at.

I have one with auditory processing issues and ADHD and it's been so freeing to find peace with doing just what he needs in our homeschool.  He is 12, but functions about 2 years behind emotionally.  He's doing Singapore 5 math, SL LA 3 & Readers 3 and Core B this year (and Apologia elementary Astronomy for science).  I don't anticipate that he'll get through the high school cores, at least not in the same way that his siblings have.  But each year he progresses and learns new things, and to me, that is the goal.

Good luck to you!  Have fun and enjoy your kiddos!

Blessings, Sandwich

 

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