I was ready to quit. I had already successfully homeschooled my older daughter for a few years, but when I realized that my younger daughter is a “differently-abled” learner, I was unprepared and ill-equipped. We both worked hard, but most days it seemed we were making no progress.
The truth (and good news) is that most of what I teach her gets into her brain. She just has some trouble accessing the information—or doing it quickly enough—to “perform” in the ways I expected her to.
Then one of our specialists suggested something wonderful to me: reference sheets. I use index cards, cardstock, and poster board to create references for anything she has trouble with. Sometimes I differentiate things she has trouble distinguishing between with a pattern around the outside edge of the card or a drawing so that she can associate visual cues with them. Eventually, after repetition and review, including games and activities, she becomes less reliant on the references! It’s a sweet victory.
Another thing that has helped me tremendously is to change the way I ask her to respond to me. Instead of requiring a verbal response, I ask her to point to the answer (on the reference sheets, in a book, etc.). This works beautifully! She is often able to show me the answers, indicating that she understands the concept, when she isn’t able to verbalize them or come up with the words quickly enough. As she becomes more familiar with the concepts and vocabulary that go with them, she is able to verbalize her answers more often.
I’m thankful for the person who taught me these techniques and am glad that I don’t homeschool in isolation!
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22 (NIV1984)
What kind of support network do you have in place for helping you teach your special needs learner?
This Wednesday’s Special Needs Support was written by Special Needs writer, Jennifer