Thursday, November 09, 2006

Homeschool helps

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I was asked by a blogger friend for some helpful links and suggestions on homeschooling our then I thought perhaps others out there may be able to find some of my links and information helpful so I thought I would share.......

First order to be successful in homeschooling I think you have to learn to DE-school as you probably already know. Forget that you always have to have a textbook to teach by...cause in reality you just do not have to.

Noah was not always verbal. In fact he did not really talk at all till about 4 years of age and then it was brief ...1-2 words at a time....and most could not even understand him then. He has made HUGE strides.......he did take some speech therapy but even you can do that at home yourself. For Noah we also checked out some books and videotapes from the local library on SIGN LANGUAGE....and the ones geared for kids..........and he quite easily along with us picked up basic signs for basic communication which helped him tremendously! Here are some helpful links for speech therapy aids and communication aids: (yes this site has wonderful speech communication tools)

MOST autistics are very visual.......

We also used PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) or basically little PICTURES of different things or activities or emotions....that you can laminate and put velcro on the backside to make STORY LINES or social stories....or even so the child can go grab ONE picture of let's say "I'm hungry" and bring it to you to show you they are hungry. These can be as detailed or simple as you can make your own up or there are sites offering them. Some sites you have to pay...I used for most of my PECS till I at least got the hang of the system and then you can pretty much do your own. They explain it pretty well on their site.

I too had hard times with Noah trying school....and he too could not always tell me what happened there.....and he had issues with being HURT or things happening to him it appeared to us anyway.....during school time. I was not happy about that and to be honest I am thankful I yanked him from public school BUT using PICTURES helped him show us what was happening....and he could express himself finally in a way everyone could understand. All he had to do was grab a card with a picture and/or several and make a sentence to communicate with us.

Your local library can have many books you can use for teaching things. I also found some wonderful resources online......and even some FREE ONLINE school stuff that your child (if computer savy) can really have a good time with and learn at the same time! The most recent website for online learning for many grades is at Again it is free but you can also pay for a membership and receive even MORE things.

Also another good one is where you can pay a small fee and have TONS of worksheets and teaching tools at your fingertips! They are really good too.

For more free lesson plans including for art and music and such these sites are good:

for kid homework helps this is a good link:

I also found some wonderful teaching tools at local school supply places or even online such as

AND some at Target...they have cool BIG LEARNING BOOKS with CDs inside that your child and you can work through......they are usually sold by GRADE and include all the basic stuff that grade should be learning. Noah loved these and at only 15.00 per book/CD they were good.

I also just incorporated things into Noah's learning that I wanted him to learn too....or things that interested him. If he was into trains for example we would do extra stories and learning or math all based on a TRAIN theme.

ALSO.......USE THOSE ELECTRONIC learning toys out there...they are GREAT for kids. Noah still uses them. He has used his Leap Pad for lots of learning....especially now that they also sell GRADE LEVEL reading, math, science, social studies, geography, human body, all sorts of subjects. He loves it and he is also PLAYING he thinks so he has a great time but it counts as school and he is learning!

Homeschooling I also let Noah just wing it sometimes. Most times. If he gets tired we don't push things. He will pick things up just in everyday life. Those skills are important too...they are some of the BEST social skills he will ever get! SO even that counts towards school and is usually something they will not be receiving in regular school unless it is written into an IEP plan or something.....and it is so needed. Making and using puppets to act out social stories you come up with also were huge hits. Such as "stranger danger"...."fire safety"......"good manners on the playground"..etc. You can make puppets and then act out scenarios with the child of what NOT to do and then WHAT TO do.......until they "get it!".

It is really so much fun teaching Noah! I wish I had a separate WHOLE room to use as a classroom but even incorporating it into his bedroom or my office area has worked. Even just the kitchen table!

You can also get craft books from the local library for seasons and work on THEME items based on the time of year. Sometimes they even incorporate a story to learn something....for example you might have an apple project and then they also teach you about Johnny Appleseed.

I also found some MUSICAL CDs with learning things on it. Music and song and MOVEMENT are key with Noah. He loves it and it works! I put some song/music links above....those are always great ways to just have fun...move.....take a break.....and work on phonics and communication all at the same time!

I am sure this sounds a bit overwhelming but it does not have to be. In fact.....we no longer go by a SET time to start or even end school. We do it when we want......little bits at a time......I make sure to get the things in there we need to....and it is fine.

OH...and don't forget....your local library has MANY teaching videos now......which are great! AND if your child is not yet very verbal.....DO TRY those Baby Bumblebee videos which basically is just a video made up of kids doing different things and filming of different things and then someone SAYING the word and SHOWING the word on the screen in front of that object. THIS was a GREAT way Noah learned to talk..........I think you can even buy them....but our local library had we would check them out for free. AND they have other learning videos....things on geared again for kids and FUN!

And take advantage of your local museums, zoos, and even the grocery store for field trips and learning. I believe in teaching your child basic life skills along with required they will be better prepared to be on their own one day. With special needs children this is an even greater requirement that we as parents need to meet.....because they will have an even harder time making it one day in the world. A good head start is great! This can be as simple as having them help you with cooking....which by the way is also a great way to teach them different forms of measurement and fractions. Or having them open a bank account and learning to keep track of money...the value of money....working to save money for something special. They can also help sort laundry and load laundry into the washers and dryer. ANYthing that is part of activities of daily living you can incorporate also into your school day.

Same for basic hygiene skills. I have found making a visual chart works best for Noah.....with a list of things he has to do every day. He can then take stickers and mark off things as he has successfully completed them and he can earn rewards.

I also use rewards in the classroom setting.....but not as much as I used to. I have a glass milk bottle....that we drop old CRAYONs down into whenever Noah has successfully listened for the day. Once the jar is full....he gets to pick a prize from the treasure chest. This is nothing huge...just a plastic container from the dollar store filled with crepe paper wrapped dollar store items. Make the goal ATTAINABLE and the crayon jar or marble jar or whatever you use not TOO large....or they will feel like they are working for nothing!

I did the same thing with a reading program for Noah. I got this huge door-sized paper and drew books on shelves.......sideways.......we wrote in the spines of these drawn on books on this paper the names of books Noah read as he completed them. Once an entire row or shelf of books was completed he got a SPECIAL prize. You can also PURCHASE this same thing from school supply stores for not too much money. Noah loves to read so he really enjoyed this and you will also be amazed at just HOW much you read by keeping track in this way.

For learning all types of religions this link is helpful:

AND I think that is enough to keep most busy. I have never purchased an actual curriculum from anyone or any company. I use a variety of online tools and cheaper things you can find locally to teach Noah. A lot of resources are now free which is ideal. Hope this helps others out there who are thinking about homeschooling their child...whether they are special needs or not!

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