Aspies, if you were developing a homeschool curriculum you would have loved, what would it involve?
Homeschool parents, what do you do that works best for your Aspie(s)? I need ideas and advice. I am NT.
I've been homeschooling my 4th grader since kinder but only got him dx'd recently. I've dropped the rigorous curriculum I had been using b/c he was fighting me too much. I spend too much time trying to get him to do anything and need to spend more time w/ my ADD daughter. I have tons of materials but don't know how to put something together that he can do independently.
Details of what I do (you may ask for more):
He naturally picks up spelling, vocab, and grammar. I want to still teach these for what he doesn't pick up naturally. I was thinking of Time4learning which is subscription/internet based (and thereore independent) and not rigorous. Time4learning could be a waste of money since it includes math which I cover w/ another system.
Math is not his stregnth so he's doing okay w/ Teaching Textbooks which is PC based. I want to do more math games w/ his sister but he can be pretty uncooperative.
He loves science and I have some great materials but I have trouble fitting it in. I use workboxes* and try to load science in early to motivate him. He'll do the science and then is too wasted to do anything else. If I put science last, he will rush the other stuff or think he won't get to it and then be lazy with everything else.
Outside the home:
Christian based basketball, AWANA (Christian games and scripture memory club), Art, playdates w/ decent kids. We used to have a writing class and lit class but they ended.
Classical Conversations (CC). This is a great classical based pgm which meets one morning per week. Then during the week, the kids memorize material in 7 different subjects. Last year, before dx, he and his sis flawlessly memorized it all and earned the title, Memory Master. Problem was, he hated being honored w/ a standing ovation. This year the CC director says he may earn the title w/o having to be honored but he is still fighting me on memorizing the work. My NT brain says, he can easily do this and it will give him such a wonderful framework of material in him head. I see Memory Masters as beneficial and makes all the CC work worthwhile - especially since he is not doing much else school-wise now that the writing class ended. You are welcome to talk me out of this idea but I need to have confidence that he will be learning stuff. Memory masters does that.
Thanks for any help.
* Workboxes are containers or shelves you dedicate for all the school stuff you plan for him to accomplish for that day. I load them w/ schoool materials, games, or note of instruction and he'll put the stuff in a "done box" once completed. The idea is that at the end of the day, he sees clear shelves and knows he is free to go on computer. Worked super well last year but we've had trouble this yr for some reason.
Joined: 4 Sep 2010
It has been several years since I homeschooled.. but the one thing that struck me is, can you eliminate the need to do multiple subjects each day? If he likes science, can you make it a reward that he gets a whole day of science on Friday (or whatever) in exchange for doing other things on other days? Whatever the most contentious subject is, can you break it into smaller sections and have days where you skip that subject so he isn't feeling bombarded with it?
Joined: 13 Jul 2010
What about having all of the subjects revolve around that science theme? So, vocab, writing and spelling could all be done withing the science leson.
I don't know what you are working on in math, but for my son, hour needs 1:1 instruction in small bits. Each task needs to be broken down into steps, each time. I have had zero success getting him to do any multi step problems unassisted. For single step work, math video games are good.
We do not homeschool - I totally wish we could, so my opinions are unproven. These are just thoughts about how I wish he could do school. Also - I would incorporate a special interest into every lesson. So, for us, writing and vocab would probably revolve around a video game - even math could work.
"What about having all of the subjects revolve around that science theme? So, vocab, writing and spelling could all be done withing the science leson. "
Well, I will have to keep this in mind. I don't feel I have it in me to develop a curriculum for all his subject around a science theme. He does do all his presentations around a science theme.
Plus, his special interest vaporizes if I try to direct it. He is an amazing artist (IMO), but asking to draw a picture of whatever we are doing doesn't work. He won't do it or if he does, he'll never draw again! Then I'll see an amazing picture of Calvin and Hobbs stuck under his bed. I don't want to ruin science for him. Thanks for the ideas though.
Joined: 27 Aug 2007
We "unschool"...some days we actually sit down and try to do some work on workbooks...especially for math...not his favorite subject...I make math quick...ie. no more than 2 pages a day...he actually learns very quickly, so there is no need to repeat anything...he just doesn't like math and won't sit through more than 2 pages...I worry sometimes about his math and other skills, because of the unschooling...but then he throws me off and amazes me with something I had no clue he had learned...
Unschooling seems to work the best for us...he is extremely smart and actually enjoys learning through videos, games, etc...
Can you tell me more about how to unschool. How do you go about making sure he gets the basics covered? On bad days, I often wonder if I could unschool but I don't have time to get educated in unschooling enough to make sure I have basics covered. Right now, my son opposes so much of what we try to do.
We just got a subscription to Nexflix so I do plan to let him learn as much as possible from videos. I also have plenty of learning games but sometimes he fights the rules.
Joined: 6 Dec 2008
Reward based. Do a math sheet everyday and afterward you can work on a project of your special interest, etc.
I know you worry about covering the basics but I went to school and still didn't pick up some of the basics and many people call me smart. The whole principle of unschooling, I think, is letting them learn through what they want to do. You could have them help you cook, or learn about dinosaurs, a language, a sport, really, it's up to your child and what you involve them in.
Aspies have uneven skills. If he does well enough in other areas he can probably compensate for lower mathematics skills, which is a subject that is notorious for people being awful at anyhow. But for me, I must learn mathematics through understanding. I just don't get it if I'm told to do this and this with no explanation of why. Maybe he is the same way.
Joined: 6 Oct 2010
We have been using Time4Learning for the past 3 years and it works very well. There isn't a lot of math drilling, so if your son picks up the concepts quickly and doesn't need the "busy work" part, it might be a great fit for him. I was pleasantly surprised how well my homeschoolers (one NT, one aspie) performed on their state testing after using T4L as their core curriculum. I wasn't sure something so simple would get the job done. My girls do the math but they love the language arts areas. We do a lot of other schooling stuff but it's just for enrichment since I know their core curriculumcovers their national standards.
Joined: 14 Aug 2010
I didn't read all of the above. They have some excellent web-based charter schools. I am keeping this option open for my son, since I am not sure he will be prepared to deal with the demands of public mainstream school by the start of the 2011-2012 school year. The web-based schools are nice because you have a curriculum to follow and teachers working with you. That gives me peace of mind that I would be doing things correctly. The ones I have looked into also cater to gifted and special needs children.
Joined: 8 Jun 2008
I found this school a long time ago when my 23 year old (early onset bi-polar aspie mix) son was about 7 years old. I found it in a book about homeschool. They now have a web site. I never used the curriculum because I could not afford it but I was looking at it again last year for my 8 year old Aspie and was still very impressed with it. Again, it is somewhat expensive depending on the type of help that you need.
Joined: 22 Apr 2010
I struggled with basic math....simply arithmetic and times tables, because I have a form of dyscalculia. However I excel at advanced mathematics and have a degree in it.
The people in elementary school who were trying to "help" me develop my math skills were actually holding me back, because I simply did not have the ability to handle numbers the way most people do, and I was not going to increase in speed no matter how many timed multiplication tests I did. They would not let me advance to the subjects I actually had strengths in (provided I could use a calculator for the basic calculation) because they themselves only had a limited understanding of mathematics, and to them, the entire subjects was multiplication, division, addition and subtraction. In fact, 99% of mathematics involves no numbers.
So, I suggest you see if your son can handle more "advanced" mathematical concepts. People with AS tend to be good at trigonometry because it's very conceptual and visual.
Concerning basic mathematics, here are some reasons I struggled.
1. Answers don't just come to me. I am very myopic when it comes to mental arithmetic.
2. It did not occur to me that I was supposed to memorize times tables. I should have been told this explicitly. I thought the answer was supposed to come to me in the sense that I was supposed to be able to mentally figure it out. In my mind, any other way would have been detrimental to what I thought the point of all of this practice was (to become better at mentally calculating).
3. I took things literally. I did not understand that 1/2 = 2/4 because the numerators were not equal, and the denominators were not equal. Someone should have explained to me that they were not saying the numbers themselves are equal, but the quantity they represent, much like 4 quarters represents 1 dollar, even though quarters are not dollars.
4. I did not understand that = should be understood as meaning "same as"in the context of mathematical operations. I understood it in the same context as other operators, which mean "do something". So a/b = c/d meant to me at the time, I have a/b, I DO SOMETHING to it, and I get c/d
Someone should have simply told me that = means both sides represent the same quantity...even though the numbers representing that quantity are not the same.
5. Sometimes "tricks" would be employed when solving problems. For example, cross cancelation. I had a difficult time accepting tricks because I did not understand the logic due to step skipping. People with AS have a difficult time accepting the answer "just because". We generally have linear thinking. I did not understand/accept cross cancelation until I was in algebra and I was introduced to the order of operations. parenthesis, multiple, divide, add, subtract. Only when I saw what was actually going on, did cross cancelation make sense.
So I recommend you explicitly explain these things to your child. Tell him he doesn't need to actually calculate things like multiplication tables, tell him he just needs to memorize them. Give him a small number to memorize every week and don't make him do 100 question time tests...they give those in hell, I'm sure.
Let him move on to mathematical subjects that are more relevant to his interests in science. Don't hold him back with the misconception that he must be as fast as everyone else in basic mathematics.
Joined: 27 Aug 2007
Lots of work...but then again, not really...hmmm...
Originally I bought "The Unschooling Handbook"...you can find it on amazon.com.
I am constantly getting updates from the Department of Education website, etc...as well as other books such as "what your first grader should know, etc..." to give me an idea of what he should know...at the end of the day, I let him learn based on his current interests...ie. when he liked Thomas the Tank Engine, we read Thomas books...counted his trains...categorized based on colors, etc...hmmm...in a way it's harder than regular homeschooling in that you really have to listen to what they like and attempt to find things that will catch their interest, etc...vs. just giving them a workbook or book and doing what the book says...but so much easier in that there is no fighting and he learns it much quicker since he enjoys it...many times even on his own...
Joined: 7 Aug 2010
Location: United States
Aspies often learn better if they can focus on the conceptual underlying principles instead of specific examples. I struggled in math because of this. My teacher would write a bunch of numbers on the board, do some calculations, and expect us to figure out the reasoning behind what she did. To compensate, I had to write a specific rule, using only letters -- no numbers, that explained the process. Then I was able to do those problems without difficulty.
Focus on the underlying concepts. That will help you teach any subject.
Also, practical examples help. Let your child start a business selling artwork online, or selling vegetables at the local farmers market. Give them a computer with GameMaker installed and let them design their own video game. Buy some science project kits and let them work through the projects. Get them books on subjects that they find interesting; point them to a specific section of the library, but let them make their own choices. If you need a history book, and they pick history of pirates or video games, that's fine.
In other words, focus on projects that have motivation built in, not just pointless repetition of exercises.
Aspies can be really lazy until they see the benefit of learning something. When the motivation kicks in, they'll often leave their peers in the dust because they are so self-directed and love mastering new concepts. Also, by letting them choose self-directed learning projects, they'll enjoy education much more and emerge with a stronger sense of identity and direction than their peers.
Joined: 8 Jan 2011
I am homeschooling my daughter and she's in 8th grade. We stopped using structured curriculum and started kind of unschooling. I did find that the unpredictable nature of unschooling and her AS related executive dysfunction didn't work well together because we have to have a loose plan or she really wouldn't attempt to learn anything so we kind of developed our own unschooling. The way that we do it is she chooses 2 topics on Fridays to study for the next week. I spend the whole weekend coming up with lesson plans and try to touch on each subject through the topic. For example she chose Bob Marley one week and I was able to encorporate: spelling, writing, geography, religion, music, social studies, history, poetry, and a little bit of math into that one topic. This works well for her because there is a unifying theme for all the information so she doesn't notice that we're changing subjects so much and she knows what to expect. This works the best for us. Since she is older we also talk about a lot of things on the fly (i.e. someone mentions the topic of "foreclosure" and she doesn't know what it is I give her as much information as I can about it, and as much as she is willing to hear. When she tells me she's heard enough or that she gets it. It's done. Well, anyway, I hope this maybe helps.
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