Best Homeschool Math For Struggling Students

Best Homeschool Math For Struggling Students

Best homeschool math curriculum for struggling students

This is part two of a two part series answering the question,

“How to choose the best homeschool math curriculum for struggling students?”

If you have not read part one, definitely check it out.

In it we discuss the 5 Tips every mom needs to know before purchasing homeschool math curriculum.

Save yourself money, stress and time and read that here.

In today’s post, some veteran homeschool moms share their opinions on the best homeschool math curriculum for struggling students.

For all intents and purposes, we are using the term “struggling students” to describe:

  1. ADHD
  2. Autism
  3. Dyscalculia
  4. Dyslexia
  5. Any other learning difference
  6. Kids who just hate math

If your child tends to struggle with math, regardless of the reason, this post is for you.

Mastery Vs Spiral Based Homeschool Math

There are two different approaches to math curricula out there: spiral-based and mastery-based.    I discuss these in more detail in Part One.  

  • Mastery-based 
  • Spiral-based 

Here is a brief explanation of the two and important factors to consider when deciding which will be best for your student.

Mastery-based curriculum focuses on one concept at a time.  The goal is for the student to master the concept before moving on to the next math skill.

On the other hand, spiral-based homeschool math curriculum reviews previously learned material while learning new concepts.

Both mastery and spiral approaches have their pros and cons.  Again, check out this post for more info.  

So let’s go ahead and check in with the veteran homeschool moms to see what has worked with each of their uniquely-wired students.  

Mastery-Based Homeschool Math Curricula

1. Learn Math Fast

Beckye Barnes, of Beckye Barnes Consulting, recommends Learn Math Fast.  

We have enjoyed Learn Math Fast. It works for all ages and it starts with the basics.  You only move forward once you master the concepts. It is mastery-based and teachers the concepts without busy work.  An excellent choice for those who need a refresher course.

Beckye points to the importance of solidifying foundational math skills.

They also focus on foundational skills in a real world way. Basic addition and subtraction is taught using pennies. I think fractions is explained using a dollar then four quarters. It also focuses on learning the concept without endless worksheets.

Beckye Barnes, homeschool mom, Autism, PTSD, ADHD, dyslexia & dysgraphia.  She just graduated a student with a 4.868 GPA who is entering college as a freshman with 30 college credits.

Learn Math Fast was a game changer for my daughter with dysgraphia.  LMF breaks the lessons down to make it easier to understand, and they keep it simple.

Colleen Webster, homeschool mom of 4, also loves Learn Math Fast.  Her daugheter has dyscalculia, and has tried several math curriculum options. LMF was the first that explained certain concepts in a way she understands.

My daughter felt like she could follow along better with the shorter explanations they gave. She benefited from the break down of each equation into bite size pieces.

Colleen Webster, homeschool mom of 4, dyslexia and ADHD, dyscalcula and dysgraphia

Homeschool Math Planning

2. Math U See

What math does a math professor use in her homeschool?  Melanie Fulton of, The Math Profs, 

For math we do Math-U-See, but we add a lot of supplemental math with it. When you have two math parents in the house EVERYTHING can become a math problem.

Melanie, received her PhD in math from Virginia Tech University, she explains more about the benefits of Math U See.

MUS works for us.  The lessons aren’t too long–and sometimes we don’t even do a whole lesson in 1 day.  Have review built in. 

Visually Clutter-Free

She continues to point out the simplicity in the layout of the pages which is helpful for kids who struggle with visual discrimination.

The books and worksheets are plain–not tons of pictures or stories to distract.  There is a video included so that my children don’t have to have mom or dad teach it.  And there are manipulatives to see what is going on. 

Melanie does want to point out that MUS lacks a lot of word problems.  However, this may be a plus for kids who struggle with reading comprehension.  She says it is easy to supplement word problems in her home.

We make up for that because we do lots of real math problems around here!  She and her family live on a farm and do lots of math problems with eggs.  

Melanie Fulton, Math-loving mama who homeschools her 4 children and often employs the aid of chicken, dairy goat, cat, and dog math tutors.  There are math problems EVERYWHERE. (www.themathprofs.com)    

2 More Votes for Math U See

My older kids did very well with Math U See. Using the mastery approach made it easier for them to focus on what they were learning. 

While Colleen found success with Learn Math Fast, she also likes how Math U See allowed her kids could move at their own pace.  

They were able to move quickly through a lesson if they grasped it right away.  On the other hand, they were able to take longer if they needed more practice.  

Colleen Webster, homeschool mom of 4, dyslexia and ADHD, dyscalcula and dysgraphia

Janelle Burke also likes MUS for her son who has ADHD.  

One of my sons does Math U See and likes it because it is a mastery approach.   He is a kinesthetic learner and can SEE it and BUILD it using Math U See number block system.   This is key!

Janelle, homeschool mom of 3, ADHD-infused homeschool life

Homeschool Math curriculum

The Love Just Keeps Pouring Out: Math U See for Struggling Students 

Katherine, homeschool mom of 4 different learners, tells us that despite a whole host of learning differences,

Math U See works for us because it is very sequential.  This is essential for struggling learners.  The program helps with retaining math skills by focusing on one math concept at a time.

She points out that even though her kids have a variety of learning differences and styles, that homeschooling brings out her kids’ best selves.  With MUS, 

A student masters a math concept before they move to the next one. I have seen my child struggle in the fall with MUS, but by spring, the fall math is “easy” and we can both see their progress.

 For the kids who struggle more, Math U See is very logical.  It also lends to student independence with the videos and instruction manual. 

We have always used MUS, because my bookends definitely need the mastery-based curriculum.

My middle 2 could probably handle spiral, but they are doing great, so there hasn’t been a need to change.

Katherine Fain, homeschooling for 7 years, Autism, Auditory processing disorder, Dysgraphia and probably more

Spiral-based Homeschool Math Curricula

1. The Good and The Beautiful

Melanie loves The Good and the Beautiful for math.

I have loved The Good and the Beautiful Math for my ADHD-kiddo.  Each math lesson is a different activity.  I thought I didn’t like it at first because it’s a spiral approach, but now I LOVE it because it’s a spiral approach! Ha!  

Melanie talks about the multisensory teaching of TGTB.

It’s hands-on and they incorporate games for review and learning.  They include short and sweet worksheets, a simple review each week.  TGTB uses songs, colorful workbooks,and bonus activities for extra practice if you wish. 

Like me, Melanie understands the importance of shorter lessons to allow her kids push through an entire lesson.  She also raves about the shorter lessons.  

Lessons take 15-20 min max.  We are still learning our basic facts, but we are also learning time and money while playing games. My kids really LOVE it!  

Melanie tells us that she is now anxiously waiting for them to release level 3 so she can do it with her oldest!!

Spiral-Based Homeschool Math For Struggling Learners

2. Teaching Textbooks

We love Teaching Textbooks.  We’ve been homeschooling for about 8 years. One kid who just doesn’t like math, one with special needs, and one who finds math easy. Teaching Textbooks has worked well for all of them.

Krista tells us that she has transitioned her kids to their new online platform.  

We started with the CDs and now use the online version. Lessons are taught via the online course.  So my role is more support and encouragement in this subject and not the direct teacher.

Krista, 10 years homeschooling, 3 kids, Girl 17, ADHD, Boy, 15 ASD, G 12 Diva

Magda Miller has been homeschooling her two kids for going on 8 years.

I second Teaching Textbooks. I have a very self-motivated, math-minded older child who started TT when he was 5.  It just clicked.  I thought his less math inclined younger sister might not do as well with the system, but I was pleasantly proved wrong. 

Like so many homeschool moms, she points out how nicely Teaching Textbooks supports moms.

Teaching Textbooks does the teaching and the grading.  I am more involved with my younger child’s movement through the program, but it still allows for her to be very independent in her learning and it sticks.  She is learning and retaining.

Magda also likes using the physical books and CD option.

We have the CDs and the physical books as I find mine tend to do better when they write things down as well as view and hear them.

Ma Miller, homeschool mom of 2 rockstar kids, suspected ADHD, ASD 

homeschool math for struggling students

What Spiral-Based Math Worked in My Own Homeschool?

3. Christian Light

Within my own homeschool, we have used a variety of math materials for our ADHD and math-minded family.  

One of our favorite spiral-based math curricula is Christian Light Math.  

I like Christian Light for several reasons.  

Christian Light is broken up into ten worktexts for each grade level.  

This, in and of itself, is highly motivating to our kids who like to check things off their lists.  Every finished worktext feels like an accomplishment. 

Secondly, CL is thorough and on the advanced side.  This is great for your math-minded kids.  

Student-led Set Up

All of Christian Light materials are designed to be student-led.  As such are visually appealing and broken up into smaller chunks.  They are clean and easy to follow without being overwhelming.

The best part?  The price!  Christian Light materials are very affordable.  

Pivoting Between Mastery & Spiral When Needed

Despite loving this math curriculum, eventually we hit a wall with it. 

We moved away from Christian Light as math concepts increased in complexity.  

As we neared Algebra, my oldest needed to focus on one concept at a time in order to best process, retain and develop mastery.   

We shifted to a mastery, topic based curriculum, Developmental Math, in order to solidify very specific math concepts to prep her for Algebra.

Being willing to temporarily pivot when we hit that wall, made all the difference in the world for her as she entered Algebra.

Homeschool Math Curriculum For Your Struggling Student

Ultimately, what homeschool math curriculum is best for your uniquely-wired child will be based on a number of factors.

The responses from the veteran homeschool moms in A Heart For All Students homeschool mom community, tell us one thing. 

Regardless of diagnosis, every student is different. 

What constitutes as the best homeschool math curriculum will be what works best for you and your family.

Understanding who your child is, how your child is wired and your own capacity, will guide you to make the best decision.

As you make your fall homeschool plans, grab a copy of the homeschool 101 planning guide that I’ve created for you.

In it you will find some prompts to help you identify the critical information that will help you make the best homeschool decisions. 

Uh.. I mean… make the best homeschool decisions…

  1. for your uniquely-wired student
  2. in this specific season.

And don’t even get me started about choosing the best homeschool language arts curriculum.  

When asked my opinion about what is the best homeschool language arts curriculum, I always end up answering with a question.

How does your child learn and how is she wired?  

The answer to this question is probably the most important variable that I consider when working with a new homeschool coaching client. 

So before I ever discuss curriculum, I walk them through a series of questions designed to help us identify their child’s wiring and learning style.

Continue reading to find out the best language arts curriculum for your child.

 

How to Choose the Best Homeschool Math Curriculum

How to Choose the Best Homeschool Math Curriculum

5 Tips To Choose The Best Homeschool Math Curriculum

This is part 1 of a two part series focused on how to choose the best homeschool math curriculum for struggling students.  

Isn’t that the million dollar question, right?  

As homeschool moms begin to plan for the new school year, we want to do the “right and best” thing for our kids.  

Many families choose to homeschool when the traditional system fails their child.  Honestly, it shouldn’t be a surprise that this happens.  

Our educational system is designed to serve the masses.  By virture of being a system, it can’t provide an optimal learning environment for every child.  

This only makes sense.

1. Neurodiversity Should Drive Educational Planning

Here is the reality.

Diversity of learning styles, cognitive differences, and specific life circumstances impact the learning experience of each student.

Kids with ADHD, Autism, dyslexia and other outside-the-box learning styles are often served very well when homeschooled.   

Ultimately, homeschooling allows the parent-teacher to choose the best teaching materials based upon their child’s unique needs.

Homeschool Math Curriculum Struggling StudentsPlanning

Best Homeschool Curriculum For Your Student

So when a new homeschool mom asks the ultimate question about the best homeschool curriculum, there really is no one right answer.

In fact, when I hear people asking this question, alarm bells begin to sound in my mind.

“Stop!  Do not pass go!  Do not collect $200!  Go directly to jail!”

Crazy response, right? 

Do I sound dramatic? 

It’s ok.  I own it. 

However, there is a reason behind my madness.

2. Always Prioritize Learning Outcomes

When it comes down to it, I am passionate about learning outcomes for kids.  

My heart aches for every to child grow up confident in their ability to learn.  There is not one mom out there who does not desire that her child be a lifelong learner.

In the long term, we want all of our kids to think deeply and know how seek truth throughout their lives.  

With this in mind, it is crucial for parents to understand that every child is truly unique.  Every person learns best when equipped based on his or her own unique wiring.

So what does this mean for the new homeschooling mom?  How does she make the right choices for her child?

3. Reframing the Question Helps

When referring to math in particular, we need to reframe the question from,

What is the best homeschool math curriculum?”  to

What is the best homeschool curriculum for my child at this time?”

There is never going to be one right answer to this question. 

Our children all have different needs and those needs are going to ebb and flow as time and circumstances change.

The point being… give yourself grace. Take the pressure off when choosing learning materials for your student.  

We all just need to do our best with the information we have at any one time.  

4. Run Through These Questions Before Buying Curriculm 

Ultimately, when deciding what the best homeschool math curriculum will be for our specific child, we want to ask the following:

  • How does my child learn best?  
  • What educational materials will best support my child in learning effectively, efficiently and with intrigue?
  • Does my child have any educational gaps?
  • What are my educational goals for this student?
  • Areas of interest?

Grab the FREE Homeschool 101 Planning Guide to help you walk through this process for each of your children.  

Once you have the answers to these questions, you will be best equipped with what you need to make a solid decision for your child or children.  

Let’s dig a little more deeply into the homeschool math materials out there.  

homeschool math planning

5. Spiral vs. Mastery Homeschool Math Curriculum

There are two different approaches to math curricula out there: Spiral-based and Mastery-based.  

Here is a brief explanation of the two and some factors to consider when deciding which approach will be best.

Mastery-Based Homeschool Math

Mastery based homeschool math curriculum focuses on just that.  Mastering concepts.  

These homeschool math resources focus on one topic at a time.  Ultimately, the goal of this approach is that the child will master each concept before moving on to the next.  

The ADHD Brain and Mastery-Based Homeschool Math

For our kids who struggle with shifting attention once “in the zone,” this approach can be very effective. 

Think of your child who has the gift of hyperfocus

You know the one…

The child who can become easily frustrated when asked to stop playing with his Legos.  

Or the little girl who “never listens” when told it’s time to stop playing with her Beanie Boos because it is time to go.

Ironically, despite the name that indicates lack of focus, those with ADHD often can zero-in on an activity of high interest to the exclusion of the world around them.

This is referred to as hyperfocus.

ADHD Super Powers

Kathleen Nadeau, PhD, in an ADDitude magazine article, says,

“Many scientists, writers, and artists with ADHD have had very successful careers, in large part because of their ability to focus on what they’re doing for hours on end.”

For our kids who struggle to learn new math concepts, a mastery-based homeschool math curriculum may serve them well.

Using multi-digit multiplication as an example.  

Once a student finally “gets it,” the last thing that student wants to do (or even can do) is suddenly shift to calculating fractions.  

These kids tend to do well focusing their energy on one concept until they have it backwards and forwards.   

Specifically, these kids often need lots of targeted practice over an extended time period in order to develop automaticity.    

This is just a fancy way of saying that a student finally gets the concept without struggling.  

homeschool special needs math curriculum

Spiral-Based Math

Spiral-based curricula offer more variety in that they tend to introduce a new topic each week.  

The first lesson of the week often includes multiple problems associated with the new topic.   However, the rest of the lesson will circle back to and spiral through older topics as review.  

If you have a child who tends to be more math-minded or who needs more variety to stay engaged, a spiral approach is a great choice. 

That ADHD Brain & Spiral 

Interestingly, neither Mastery-based nor Spiral-based homeschool math is better than the other. 

What works best will be completely dependent upon your unique child.

Referring back to that same ADHD brain, that same child may need more mental stimulation and variety of math problems in order to stay engaged. 

This may make a spiral approach the better choice as was the case in our homeschool with my oldest daughter.

She tends to be more math-minded and has the gift of an ADHD brain. 

In the beginning of our homeschool journey,  I heard that the mastery-based approach was the “best way to teach homeschool math.”

Understandably, I wanted the best for my daughter and so I chose “the best homeschool math curriculum.”

Whah… whah… total fail.

My girl’s ADHD, math-minded brain needed more variety in order to keep her engaged.  By pivoting to a spiral-based math program, she thrived.

Ultimately, what approach works best will depend on the unique-wiring of your student.

how to choose homeschool math curriculum

How to Choose Homeschool Math Curriculum

Again, whether your child does well with one or the other will be based on a number of variables. 

These factors include frustration tolerance, aptitude for math, need for variety, etc.  

Like everything else, it all depends on the learner. 

I’ve created a Homeschool 101 Planning Guide to help you tease through the important questions to get a better picture of your child’s needs.

Grab a copy, take a deep breath and know that it’ll never be perfect.  Do the best you can and as you learn, be willing to look outside-the-box.  

Homeschooling is a lifestyle of learning and growing for your children and just as importantly, you.

Best Homeschool Math Curriculum For Struggling Learners

Ask the Experts: Veteran Homeschool Moms

To help you make an informed choice about the best homeschool math curriculum options for your student, I asked the experts.  

I asked some of the veteran homeschool moms in AHFAS private community to chime in.  They share what has worked, what hasn’t worked and why.  Praying they can save you some homeschool heartache. Check it out here. 

And comment below with what math curriculum has worked in your homeschool.   Always excited to hear from you!

Best Homeschool Curriculum: Learning Differences

Best Homeschool Curriculum: Learning Differences

The Best Homeschool Curriculum For The Individual Child

When asked my opinion about what is the best homeschool curriculum, I always answer with a question.

How does your child learn and how is she wired?  

The answer to this question is probably the most important variable that I consider when working with a new homeschool mom. 

Many parents haven’t had the opportunity to identify this essential understanding about their child. 

Because of this, before I ever discuss curriculum, I walk them through a series of questions designed to help us best tease out their child’s learning style and wiring.

Best Homeschool Curriculum - Learning Differences

by Lindsay Leiviska | A Heart For All Students

Start With The Most Important Info

I ask questions designed to identify learning strengths and weaknesses. For example, 

  • What subjects does your tend to do well in and which does he or she struggle in? 
  • Are their any subjects that your child particularly enjoys?
  • Which concepts cause tears on a regular basis?

We then dive deeper to establish why a child is struggling, we are then able to identify specific educational gaps and then have a starting point.

By doing some of this pre-work, moms are best armed with the information they need to choose educational materials wisely.  This will serve the child academically and emotionally. 

In the end, this will bless the entire homeschool dynamic. 

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you which allows me to continue offering as much free content as possible. I appreciate your support.

homeschool language arts curriculum, special needs

Homeschool is NOT School At Home

Because we are all uniquely-designed, it makes sense that many children think and process the world differently. 

Often, moms choose to homeschool their kids when they realize that their children are not served well in the traditional system. 

Ultimately, the reality is that a school system is just that.  It is a system meant to serve the masses and not the individual.  

However, this is not a criticism.  By virtue of being a system, institutionalized educational frameworks cannot serve each individual child.  

So when a child consistently struggles or resists school, it is often best to step back and seek out other educational options.

This, my Friend, is when homeschooling shines as the blessing that it is.  No where else can one find the ability to meet the individual educational and emotional needs of the whole child. 

Homeschooling is a Gift for Unique Thinkers

Homeschooling allows parents to provide outside-the-box thinkers the opportunities to succeed as students.  Whether a child has ADHD, dyslexia, a processing disorder or other learning difference, every child can thrive as a learner.

Working with the grain of our kids’ wiring and interests is key.  Doing so improves learning, self-worth, and creates a more joyful and peaceful educational experience.

So What Is The Best Homeschool Curriculum For Unique Thinkers?

Sadly, I cannot tell you what the best homeschool curriculum is for your child.  However, I can offer you some great resources to check out once you have a baseline understanding of how your child is wired.  

For this post, I asked homeschool moms in A Heart For All Students community to share their insights.  They gave us their “best homeschool curriculum” choices. 

Please note that these moms are homeschooling kids with a variety of learning differences and styles. 

Today we will focus on the preferred Language Arts homeschool curricula of these seasoned homeschool moms.  Next week, we will hear all about their favorite math resources! 

data-pin-description=top homeschool reading curriculum for kids with special needs

Best Homeschool Curriculum- Language Arts

1. Master Books

Melissa Cochran, M.Ed., is a former principal, reading specialist, and kindergarten teacher.  She homeschools 2 teens with ASD, ADHD, PTSD, Anxiety, SPD, and PDD (Persistent Depressive Disorder).

She describes her homeschool as “it’s like alphabet soup around here”!  With so many nuances to how her kids learn, Master Books has been a hit in her home!

Master Books curriculum is open-and-go. The curriculum is written to the student and is easy for new homeschoolers to jump into without feeling overwhelmed.  Bonus! They have materials for Social Studies and Science, too.

Heather Purvis also enjoys Master Books with her son.  

My favorite is Master Books. It is Christ centered with a Charlotte Mason approach. I have had luck with the phonics and reading for my struggling reader.  It is not strenuous which makes it approachable for my son. 

Master Books isn’t heavy on pencil paper work, but more living education.  Their phonics and reading is focused more on letters, sounds and recognition. Not a ton of sight words. 

It’s a laid back approach with very simple reading by student with more reading to them by the parent.

Heather Shank-Purvis is mom to 5 very different learners.  Some are in homeschool, private and public school.  Her homeschooler navigates life with  ADHD, OCD, Anxiety, PANS/AE, Dyslexia and Dysgraphia.

Another Vote for Masterbooks As A Best Homeschool Curriculum

I am just switching to Master Books and so far I am loving the look of it!! We’re starting with the Language Arts for a Living Education.  Also, we purchased their Bible curriculum for my 11 year old.

Janelle Burke, a homeschooling mom of more than ten years is also a fan of Master Books.  She continues,

I also picked four physical science titles from their Creation series.  These include topics like Weather, Archeology, Minerals, and Geology.  I’m using it for my 11 & 14 year-olds. Loving Masterbooks.

Janelle, homeschool mom of 3, ADHD-infused homeschool life

Logic of English Tree

Orton-Gillingham Based Reading

2. Logic of English

Beckye Barnes, a homeschooling rockstar and an educational advocate, loves Logic of English.

Logic of English amazing. It is available both online and in print.  Based on the science of reading, it is a full language arts curriculum. 

Beckye Barnes is a homeschool mom of two teen boys, Autism, PTSD, ADHD, dyslexia & dysgraphia.  She just recently graduated a student with a 4.868 GPA who is entering college as a freshman with 30 college credits.
All About Reading

3. All About Reading & All About Spelling

My dyslexic son is doing well with All About Reading at a slower pace.   We are able to go at his pace.

Colleen has homeschooled four children, each with different learning styles.  Speaking about All About Reading, she continues, 

Physically moving the letter tiles, my son can now see that the ending or beginning sounds stay the same.  He was thrilled when he was able to read a story from the reader. I think that boosted his confidence that he will be able to conquer this struggle.  

Colleen Webster, homeschool mom of 4, dyslexia and ADHD

More Orton-Gillingham Homeschool Reading Curriculum Choices

The Orton-Gillingham method is systematically designed to support children with dyslexia and other reading learning disabilities.  Here are just a few more recommendations that you may want to consider when teaching your struggling reader.

Beckye Barnes offered these suggestions.

She recommends several programs for struggling readers.  Each of these employ the Orton-Gillingham method and start at the foundations of phonemic awareness.  If you have a struggling reader, she recommends checking out any of the following programs:

Beckye also recommends two online supplements Nessy and Teach Your Monster to Read as they are also based in the science of reading. 

Here are some other homeschool reading curriculum choices that Crystal and Kara have found helpful in their homeschools.  Both ladies have children who learn differently, from autism, adhd to language processing speed.  

Misc. Homeschool Language Arts 

4. Collections Close Reader 

I like Collections Close Reader for 6-7 Language Arts. My girl hates reading, listening, writing, etc. and this has collections of short stories.  There are short questions and vocabulary sprinkled throughout the stories. It can be done in small chunks even if a student can’t finish a whole short story.

Crystal, homeschool mom of 2,  Autism 

5. Rod and Staff Grammar

Kara, a homeschool mom of two adopted sons with multiple learning challenges, offers her favorite grammar curriculum.

For grammar we love Rod and Staff for GrammarI like that it’s traditional and gives clear examples. 

I love that they include sentence diagramming and start it early.  It really forces kids to learn the parts of speech and how to use them.  This is something I wish I had learned earlier as a kid.  I really only learned them through taking Latin. 

She continues by emphasizing the bite-sized approach that is often helpful for kids with executive functioning issues.

I also like that they give short exercises that are to the point, not just busywork. I also like the teacher’s manual- it gives easy to understand examples and uses concrete things within my kids’ realms of experience.

Kara, homeschool mom of 2 adopted sons, ADHD, Aspergers, Sensory Processing Issues

6. Classical Academic Press- Writing & Rhetoric

Kara continues about her favorite writing curriculum for her boys.

We love Classical Academic Press’ Writing and Rhetoric. It seems more comprehensive and we can go at our own pace, which right now is important.  If we cannot finish an entire one in a day, we can break lessons into two smaller ones. It’s concrete, but also allows my kids to think about things in depth, but in smaller chunks they can process. 

Kara points out that her son will often write long, involved “paragraphs” with tons of words, but without any cohesive meaning.

Writing and Rhetoric is forcing him to use the concept and main ideas of the stories to create his own.  It gives him a good example of appropriate length and level of detail.   Being able to cut lessons down and spread them out keeps them focused while  working in-depth, with good quality. 

homeschool coaching, special needs, adhd, autism

Two of My Personal Favorites

7. Christian Light Language Arts

Christian Light Language Arts is a program that tends to lie low in it’s advertising, but it packs a mighty punch.

I was introduced to CL several years ago after teaching my children how to read.  This was a godsend for a number of reasons.

Christian Light LA is:

  • Student-driven: The program is written for the student to read and work through on their own.  There are small check boxes throughout the daily work to help the student feel a sense of mastery and accomplishment.
  • Small Chunks of Teaching:  Each grade level is broken into 10 smaller workbooks which allow kids to have small attainable goals throughout the year.  Kids love to “finish” each workbook.  This helps with motivation.
  • Complete:  Once your child is reading, this program can stand alone for several years.  Includes grammar (with simple sentence diagramming beginning in second grade), spelling, vocabulary, and penmanship.
    • Note that I absolutely love teaching English grammar.  Christian Light does an EXCELLENT and thorough job of teaching English grammar in a way that is not overwhelming.
  • Writing:  While CL is not a writing program, they do sprinkle some writing exercises throughout the lessons.

8. IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing)

When kids are writing for formal writing instruction, I always recommend IEW Institute For Excellence In Writing).  This is my absolute favorite writing curriculum and I love it.

Check out this post and video (impromptu recording… don’t judge please) for more info about IEW.

What Is the Best Homeschool LA Curriculum?

When our ultimate goal is the educational success and long-term learning of our kids, it only makes sense to use materials that will support each child (and family) best.

Like all things, however, no homeschool curricula is perfect.  A resource may be an excellent fit for one season, but not another.  This is to be expected as kids grow.  

When it isn’t working, feel the freedom to pivot in order to best educate your unique child.   While you are planning, grab a copy of the Homeschool 101 Planning Guide below.  I’ve included some of the questions I ask homeschool coaching clients to create targeted plans for their unique children.  

If you would like to know more about homeschool coaching services, reach out.  I would love to walk alongside you in your homeschool journey.

What would be on your best homeschool curriculum list?  

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Parenting Neurodiverse Kids to Thrive

Parenting Neurodiverse Kids to Thrive

Parenting Neurodiverse Kids Well

To my momma friends who are fiercely in love with and are parenting neurodiverse kids, let’s be brave. 

You know the ones I am talking about.

  • The children who are constantly hearing that they are not enough.
  • The ones who will never live up the expectations of the adults around them.
  • Like the kid back in school who was considered a troublemaker (yep, he ended up exactly as expected by the adults around him)
  • The “loser” with a life that went nowhere.

So many of these neurodiverse kids simply grew up shrouded in a culture that believes that outward behavior is always willful.  

Sadly when it comes to parenting neurodiverse kids and children in general, this mindset is often quite dangerous.  When we have black and white thinking to what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior, outside-the-box children end up suffering.

The Lord looks on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

Parenting Neurodiverse Kids to Thrive

by Lindsay Leiviska | A Heart For All Students

What is neurodiversity?

 The concept of neurodiversity is basically a viewpoint that says that all people are wired differently.  

For kids with ADHD, Autism, or any other cognitive difference, this shift can be life changing.   This means that instead of viewing them as disordered people who need to be “fixed”, we embrace their differences as part of their wiring.  

When we remove the “willful disobedience” mindset, we begin to see the whole child through the eyes of grace and of strength.

Our responses to perceived infractions on expected behaviors lose their rough and often aggressive edge.  We are able to then see the strengths that need to be harnessed for good. 

Our kids lose the shame and instead are able to see us as in their corner.  We can then parent our neurodiverse children with what they need to thrive.

Diversity in who we are and how we are all designed.  Doesn’t that sound like something to be celebrated?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you which allows me to continue offering as much free content as possible. I appreciate your support.

neurodiversity, christian special needs moms, adhd, autism acceptance

Parenting Neurodiverse Kids Well: Difference vs disordered  

As moms begin parenting neurodiverse kids from this mindset, anxiety and fear is lessened.  By recognizing our child’s ADHD or Autism as an inherent part of what makes them unique, we experience freedom. 

Parenting our neurodiverse kids in this way allows us to focus on their strengths instead of trying to constantly fix these traits out of them.  

For more about neurodiversity, check out this article from Understood.org.  

Neurodiversity brings freedom 

Culturally, when adults cannot “control” the “challenging” behavior of a child with ADHD, the perception is that there is something wrong with the child.

The idea that perhaps we are using the wrong approach with these kids rarely comes to mind.  Adults blame the child and continue with the same ineffective, life-sucking discipline strategies… and the behaviors increase as the child’s sense of self-worth decreases.

Albert Einstein is often credited as saying, 

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”  

So… as we parent our own neurodiverse kids, what is our goal? 

To force these fish to climb a tree, never allowing them to swim in the pond for which they were designed?  Do we want them to believe there is something inherently wrong with them when they can NEVER meet our expectations?

neurodiverse children, special needs mom, adhd, asd, sensory processing

Kids set up for failure

So many of our kids are placed in no-win situations.  They continuously fail to live up to the accepted expectations of the world around them.

These expectations are often based upon an environment that they were never meant to thrive in. 

Sadly, our outside-the-box kids are consistently living from a marginalized position.  They are repeatedly corrected, punished, and shamed.  

These kids spend their formative years hearing about their faults.  Oftentimes these “faults” are simply differences in the way they receive and process the world around them.  

What about the real world?

Some may argue that modifying how we educate and parent neurodiverse kids is not realistic because “they have to learn sometime”.

Hello?!!!

There are millions and millions of people in this country who are suffering and have suffered their entire lives because of this belief that its the kid who is broken.  

We live in the United States of America.  It’s 2020.  We say we celebrate diversity.  So let’s do it.

It is time we offer an alternative system.  

Parenting Neurodiversity Kids Well

Momma Friend, I hear it every day.

  • The school called. My kid flipped out and hit a little boy in class. Now he is suspended.
  • My daughter clings to me at church because it is so loud and crazy in there. She started melting down in the middle of the foyer last Sunday.
  • The teacher said that my child is off in lala land and that’s why she can’t learn to read.
  • My son comes home from school every day and screams and has meltdowns. No one believes me because he is quiet at school.
  • My child begs me not to send him to (church, sports, school, etc).
  • Getting my child to do her homework always ends up in tears and stress. She just screams that it’s too much to do.
  • My child hates going to birthday parties, he just cries and avoids the other kids.

These children struggle to please adults and even other kids around them by trying to suppress their responses to an environment they were never intended to live in.

They receive the message loud and clear that they are inherently defective.  

Our neurodiverse kids are suffering.  Their anxiety is through the roof.  Wouldn’t yours be as well?  

Christian Moms & Neurodiverse Kids

Mental Illness Hamster Wheel

These misunderstood children frequently end up trapped in a cycle of mental health issues that plague them for life. 

Rates of childhood anxiety, depression, cutting, and suicide are growing.

Moms parenting neurodiverse kids… we need to join together to advocate for our children.  We need to be brave enough to parent the children God has given us and not the one Aunt Edna wants.

We are raising children to one day be adults. These formative years are crucial.

Moms parenting neurodiverse kids differently

It’s time to be BRAVE for our uniquely-designed children.  

  • ADHD
  • Autism
  • Sensory Processing Differences
  • Learning Differences
  • Anxiety

These are not personality defects.  These are inherent differences in wiring just as are introversion and extroversion.

  • That struggle to take direction is not her being willfully stubborn but is her independence
  • His hyperfocus on his latest “obsession” is not a disorder.  It is a gift that has allowed some of the greatest inventors of our time to change the world.
  • The boy who cannot sit still was made to move… he receives and processes information through movement.  
  • Is your daughter the day dreamer? The one who can’t focus? That is her incredible imagination taking her places that others will only experience when she becomes a published author.

We must begin to shift our perspective so that we can set these kids up for success.

Let’s stop shaming those who don’t fit the mold.  We need to stop clinging to this belief that our kids are WILLFULLY making a choice to disobey.

It is time for us to be our child’s cheerleader and coach.  

Let us coach them well while we equip them to thrive as who they have been designed to be.

special needs kids, adhd, autism, aspergers, aspie, asd, sensory, moms, parenting, homeschool, christian parenting, aspie girls, aspergers, autism, adhd, aspie girl

God Intentionally Chose You

Moms, you know in your gut there must be another way for your neurodiverse kids.

Deep down, you know that God has created your child uniquely and that He must have a plan for your child. 

Yet, fear takes over.  

  • The world tells you that a child who is screaming in public deserves a good spanking.
  • Aunt Edna tells you that you had better nip that bad behavior in the bud now.
  • Your mother-in-law glares at your child when he begins jumping on the couch.
  • That perfect mom stares in shock when your child begins shrieking uncontrollably at the fireworks display.
  • The teacher at your child’s school told you that your child needs to learn to sit still now.

You don’t know what to do, but you know your child will never thrive knowing that he is a constant disappointment.

Parent the child we have been given

We must be willing to parent our children who have been created differently. As a Christ follower, I believe with every bit of my being that God creates every child with gifts, passions and purpose. 

We must be willing to think outside-the-box with our outside-the-box kids.

Let’s partner with our children so that through safe relationships, we can influence them.  We want to equip our kids with tools and strategies so that they can live a life of confidence and purpose.

Or we can continue to listen to the world and it’s rewards and punishment mentality.  

How is that working for your child?

Every child needs an adult who believes in them… let’s be that for our kids.

Wisdom of Moms Raising Neurodiverse Kids

Mom Friends, it’s time to be BRAVE for our children.

It’s time to be willing to allow other adults to disapprove of us in order to save the future lives of our children.  Let’s allow our kids to dare to be exactly who they are.

If you are looking for the support of other moms who are parenting uniquely-wired kids to thrive, join the private AHFAS community.  

We are in this together!

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Teaching A Child With ADHD

Teaching A Child With ADHD

Teaching A Child With ADHD?

Do you have or are you teaching a child with ADHD?

Whether you are a homeschool mom or a teacher in a classroom, you have likely experienced the challenges that come from teaching a child with ADHD symptoms.

You know the signs:

  • Trouble paying attention to non-preferred activities (think math, reading, chores… whatever is not interesting)
  • Hyperactivity (the wiggle worms)
  • Difficulty taking turns
  • Difficulty transitioning from one activity to another
  • Academic struggles
  • Emotional meltdowns when time to do seat work
  • A bedroom that is always messy no matter how many times it has been organized…
  • You get the idea…

Check out Attitudemag.com for more information.

ADHD Symptoms Can Lead to Tension

As homeschool moms know, when our children show symptoms of ADHD while we are teaching them, it can be challenging for mom and child alike.  The child struggles to maintain attention and becomes bored and distracted.  Mom becomes frustrated with her inability to teach her child effectively.  Academic growth stalls out while frustrations and tensions between child and mom grow.

So what does the homeschool mom do to more effectively teach her child with ADHD?  After all, her child’s engagement is critical to retention and understanding.

 

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you which allows me to continue offering as much free content as possible. Appreciate your support.

Teaching A Child With ADHD

My favorite OT

To gather some useful tips for teaching a child with ADHD, I sought out the advice of an amazing friend and occupational therapist.

Alicia Matthews, MS, OTR/L, has walked alongside my family for years.  She has been a wealth of support for my family.

It is no wonder that I would seek out her advice and tips for teaching a child with ADHD.

Occupational Therapy for Learning?

Occupational Therapy is not a new area of intervention.  However, more and more parents are just now learning of its effectiveness in addressing ADHD symptoms in children.

Sensory: 5 Senses + Two More Senses

Get up and move!

As an OT, Alicia starts with sensory strategies to improve all learning challenges.

When teaching a child with an ADHD brain, any learning that requires a child to sit and pay attention can be extremely tough.  These kids have been wired to need physical movement to thrive.

Therefore, Alicia always recommends sensory input right before the child sits.  When you can incorporate movement into a lesson, go for it!

Movement is a Must for Sensory Needs

While you’ve probably heard that getting up and moving can “wake up” the body, you’ve probably never been told why.  When we move our bodies, our brain releases feel good chemicals that stimulate the brain and relax the body.

adhd teaching tips, homeschool

Tips for Teaching a Child With ADHD

1 – Vestibular Input

The vestibular sensory system involves changes in head position. This movement releases histamine, which increases attention.

Outside “vestibular” activities include going down a slide, swinging high in the air, or riding a scooter.

Indoor vestibular activities may include log rolls, spinning in an office chair, or performing inverted yoga poses. 

2 – Proprioceptive Input

This refers to movement that incorporate changes in joint position.  This movement releases serotonin, which decreases arousal level and “calms” the body down.  (Think deep-tissue massage.)

Outside, activities include climbing a rock wall, maneuvering through monkey bars, or jumping on a trampoline.

At home, activities may include pushing/pulling a heavy bin of toys, deep pressure with a sofa cushion, or climbing up stairs on hands and knees.

3 – When Teaching A Child with ADHD Consider Time

When working on a difficult activity, start with small increments of time (5 minutes can seem like a day for some kiddos).

Set the shorter time expectation ahead of time so your child has confidence that they can do it.   Whatever you do, stick to your word.

Increase time when accuracy and skill confidence develops.

Remember, Friend:  “Small chunks of intentional teaching over time will yield fruit.” 

4 – Obstacle Course

When movement can be incorporated within a lesson, try utilizing an obstacle course.

Place lesson materials throughout the course or incorporate a “writing/reading/math” obstacle within the course. Have your child help create the course for increased motivation.

5 – Seating

Varying your child’s seating option can be helpful.

A sensory cushion, therapy ball, or chair band can help a child in several ways.   

For our more fidgety kids, these tools allow them to make small movements without being distracting.

These seating options can also be very helpful for kiddos that need to increase attention.  For the child that seems to day dream (this is a gift as well), offering them these small ways to stay alert, can help.

Remember, these children have been wired to move.  Don’t fight it.  Use it to your advantage.

In the end, we all know that every child is different! If something doesn’t work, try another option.

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Warm up your eyes!

Why is it important to warm up the eyes?

When reading and writing, your eyes perform a variety of movements. When these skills are not present or automatic, your brain has to work harder to compensate.

Understandably, this negatively affects a child’s ability to focus and sit still for a number of reasons.

Because the brain has had to expend extra cognitive energy just to control small eye movements, the child with ADHD has less mental capacity to control behavior and attention.

Here are some easy eye warm-ups you can do at home to best equip your child.

 

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6 – Toss a Ball or Balloon

Hit a balloon or toss a large ball back and forth 10 times.

For older kids, you may vary the height and speed of the object.

7 – Tick Tocks

Complete “tick tocks” by looking up and down 10 times in a slow pattern.  Follow with looking right and left.

You can add music and and increase efficiency by following the rhythm.

8 – Play “Eye Movement” Simon Says

Mirror eye movements made in the 4 corners of your visual field. Start with 1 movement and increase until someone loses the pattern!

9 – Teaching A Child With ADHD Includes The Environment – Natural Lighting Is Best

Fluorescent lights can quickly cause fatigue, especially with intensive reading activities. Use natural light when possible, and try to limit visual distractions.

While it might be great to sit beside a window, it may be difficult to “tune out” distractions from outside.

When natural light is not possible, you can remove the amount of light bulbs in an overhead light or position your child with their back facing the light source.

ADHD Teaching Tips, Homeschool

10 – Slanted Desk

When teaching your child with ADHD, try offering a slanted desk area.  The left and right eye must work together to focus on text both near and far.

Many children struggle with this (termed eye convergence). This often explains a child’s complaints of headaches and lack of desire to read.

You can decrease eye stress by using a slanted board or large binder under your child’s paper or book.

11 – Reduce Amount of Clutter on Page

Full pages of text can be overwhelming for children, particularly with non-preferred activities.

We mommas become overwhelmed when we walk into a messy and cluttered house.

For kiddos with ADHD or any anxiety, too much at once increases stress.  When overwhelming stress hits, forget effective learning.

When there is too much on a page, the likelihood of skipping words or full lines of text increases.  This can often explain reading comprehension issues.

Let me emphasize that skipping words or lines of text is not always a willful choice or sign of laziness.  This is an indication that something else is going on behind the behavior.

 Check out this post for more on visual clutter and its often devastating impact on learning. 

Quick tips to reduce visual clutter:

  • Use a piece of paper to cover half of a page,
  • or it can be used as a line marker when reading or referencing
  • Purchase a page “window.”
  • Use a white board and write one math problem on it at a time.

When Teaching A Child With ADHD – In Doubt Get An OT Evaluation

All in all, if you think your child may have ADHD and is struggling with learning and schoolwork, I cannot more highly recommend an OT evaluation.  An occupational therapist can provide you with so much insight and clues to how to best teach your child with ADHD.

Even if you are concerned about the financial and time commitment involved in occupational therapy, I highly recommend at least getting the OT evaluation.

You will be shocked at how much you can learn about how your child is wired, where there may be weaknesses and how to best teach your child with ADHD.

Thank you to my sweet friend, Alicia Matthews, MS, OTR/L for her collaboration on this post.  She has been a blessing to me and my family and I cannot more highly recommend her!

Grab a copy of 6 Tips for Teaching a Child with ADHD infographic here.

Alicia is a pediatric occupational therapist with 8 years of experience in North Carolina. She has a Master of Science Degree in Occupational Therapy from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She developed OT Avenue, LLC in 2017. Alicia currently works in home health and private practice

Zones Of Regulation – Stress | Anxiety | Meltdowns | Tantrums

Zones Of Regulation – Stress | Anxiety | Meltdowns | Tantrums

Zones Of Regulation & Childhood Anxiety

Do you have a kid who melts down at the slightest frustration?  One that avoids anything that you ask them to do???  

Ugh.  I hear you.  

We mommas love our kids fiercely, but can become overwhelmed when our children struggle daily with tantrums and meltdowns.

For moms raising kids who have ADHD, Autism, or any other executive functioning difference, this stress is often heightened.

A simple tool such as the Zones of Regulation chart can make a world of difference for the entire family.

This is why it is so important for moms to be armed and equipped with resources to best support their families and uniquely-wired children.

Meltdowns & Emotions

More and more I am connecting with moms who have children who are struggling in so many ways. 

  • Meltdowns during homeschool,
  • anxiety and stress when asked to do any non-preferred activity,
  • sibling rivalry,
  • social anxiety,
  • impulsiveness…

Whatever it is… moms and kids alike are being hit with layer upon layer of stress.

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We All Experience Anxiety

Throughout life, we have all at one time or another experienced some form of anxiety.

Often, we do not respond to our anxiety in the healthiest and most appropriate ways.

We snap at our hubbies.  Yell too loudly at our kids.

However we release the tension, if we don’t identify the emotions and the causes behind them, we frequently end up in trouble relationally.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you do end up purchasing any of the recommended items through this link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you which allows me to continue offering as much free content as possible. I appreciate your support.

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Behavior is Information

Behavior is information.  It is a form of communication.

When children “act out,” they are actually trying to tell the adults around them something that they can’t easily vocalize.

Children often do not have the vocabulary to communicate effectively and appropriately. 

Like our kids, we mommas we know the frustration when we can’t find a word.

Jenny, Mike, Sarah, Sam…

Think about how often we have to run through all of our kids’ names (let alone our hubby’s and pets’ names) before we say the right one.  That alone can be so frustrating for adults.

Similarly, our children often become frustrated when they cannot communicate what’s going on inside of them.  They experience an “unsettling feeling” inwardly, but don’t have the experience or language to pin point it.

Without the ability to let it out verbally, our kids are going to act out behaviorally.

A Simple Tool Goes a Long Way

That’s why a simple visual cue like the Zones of Regulation chart can be used by parents and teachers to provide children with a way to communicate a variety of emotions.

Emotions and general mental states are identified and broken down by colors (or zones) to use in everyday situations.

Zones Of Regulation

The Zones of Regulation

This tool was originally created by an awesome occupational therapist and teacher named Leah Kuypers, MA.Ed, OTR-L.  She has created an entire program often used in school settings and at home. 

I was originally introduced to it by my son’s developmental pediatrician, Dr. Yasmin Senturias. This is phenomenal for children and families alike.

Speaking from experience, it has proven to be a lifesaver for my family as well.

When we notice children struggling with difficult behavior, it is crucial that we start challenging ourselves to shift our perspective about how to respond.   

Outward Behavior Not The Be All End All

If we only look at outward behavior at face value, we will likely not solve the actual problem. 

We need to look behind the behaviors and help children identify triggers.  We want them to know “what sets them off.”  More importantly, we want them to know how to process those thoughts and emotions the next time. 

The Zones of Regulation chart will help you equip your child to understand these concepts in a practical way.

Willful Disobedience or Not Yet Equipped

When a child behaves in a way that may initially appear as disrespectful adult needs to pause.    If we take a moment to really think about what is happening, we will likely be able to propel the “behavioral” needle forward if we approach our kids differently.

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Appropriate Emotional Self-Regulation

Think about this:  How many adults do you know that don’t know how to handle their emotions?

I would venture to say that we all know someone in this category. 

We all know with certainty, that every single one of us has experienced our own version of a temper tantrum (and will likely have another one).  We are just people, right?

The reality is that we fill our kids’ heads with a ton of information about math and reading.  However, we often fail to help our kids learn how to process through life’s tough situations.  

ADHD, Autism, Or Any Uniquely-Wired Thinkers

For our children with ADHD, Autism, or any executive functioning struggles, it is even doubly important to equip them with emotional regulation skills.   This will also support them in their interpersonal relationships now and in the future.

Let’s set up our kids for life-long success by equipping them with the tools that they need to promote appropriate emotional self-regulation.

How about you, Sweet Friend?  Have you tried the Zones of Regulation chart?  Or what tools have you found helpful in your family?  Comment below.

For more information as to how to support your child gifted with the ADHD brain, check out this post about supporting the ADHD brain in learning.

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Private Community of Moms

Friend, I encourage you to join the AHFAS Private Facebook Group.

In it, you will find a tribe of moms who are safe to process through the stress of the daily meltdowns.

Whatever your situation, find community with moms who get it.   We know what it is like to navigate a higher-needs child and have all felt the isolation that comes from it.

None of us should do it alone.

And if you can tell me what classic 80s movie reference I quoted in one of the heading topics, please comment below!  Hint…

“Jake Ryan.  He is a senior.  He doesn’t even know you exist.”

Anyone?  Bueller?  Give it a guess.  Comment below.  

And check out this post about how you can get the attention of your ADHD kid.  These ADHD tips help with homeschooling (and getting them to do their chores as well.)

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