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Academic expectations for children with early childhood trauma

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    Academic expectations for children with early childhood trauma

    I just finished reading Simply Classical, and as I read it I was very encouraged about the possibilities for educating our children who have delays. We have 11 children between the ages of 11 months and 8 years: four biological, three adopted, and four we are working towards adopting. One thing I was wondering is if anybody on here has adopted older children (i.e. not infants ... ages 2-6), especially those who have experienced severe neglect, and if/how they have seen that affect their children's academic "grade level."

    All seven of our non-biological children spent their early years in very, very bad conditions, and then moved homes at least a little bit during their time in foster care, so on top of any delays they would have had (due to genetic issues, their mother's heavy drug/alcohol use during pregnancy, etc.) is exacerbated by trauma from their early environment. We've noticed there generally seems to be a 1-2 year delay in their academic capabilities: so if the child is 6, but we pretend he is 4-5, his academic abilities are right on target.

    I'm curious because in the Simply Classical book, Cheryl mentions that she was told to have the children reading by age 4 1/2 (or something like that, I don't remember exactly), but my overall approach so far has been to wait until the child seems "ready" to learn how to read, because when I tried following the same time frame as I would for my biological children, the adopted children just had no clue what was going on ... wait a year or two, and now they're grasping it much better - but that means that rather than learning how to read at age 4-5, it's more like age 6-7. So my adopted son who turned 8 last month (who joined our family when he was almost four and whose vocabulary at the time consisted of maybe 100 words) is just now approaching the end of 100 Easy Lessons and is doing 1st grade Abeka language arts books, but my biological 7-year-old is reading the Little House series independently.

    So I guess what I'm asking is, should I try to push them to follow the same age-based timeline I would with my biological children, or should I "pretend" they're 1-2 years younger than they are and proceed accordingly? We have 3-year-old twins who are developmentally about 1.5-2 years behind right now - I feel like I would have about as much success teaching them letters as I would our 11-month-old. Prior to reading Simply Classical, my approach would have been to treat them like I would a 12-18 month old: provide an environment conducive to learning, but not have any rigid learning objectives, and give them time to heal and mature a bit before pushing any kind of serious educational goals, even if that meant they didn't recognize letters until they were age 5 or so (but "felt" more like a 3-year-old). They sit at the table with the other children when we do prayers/hymns/Bible stories/poetry, but otherwise they spend their day playing (we don't have a TV/screens for kids, so they're actually playing, not vegging out on an iPad or something).
    Mom to 11:
    Biological - ages 7, 6, 3, 1
    Adopted - ages 8, 7, 5
    Fostering to adopt - ages 6, 5, 3, 3

    #2
    I haven't adopted children with a history of abuse, but I am well-versed in developmental delay. I expect there is some confusion about the Simply Classical approach, because what you are explaining-teaching to the child's adjusted developmental age, is exactly how Cheryl designed the program. There are some really great assessments available for free on the website. A child who has an adjusted cognitive function of a 4-5 year old would place well into Simply Classical C or B, provided their fine motor skills are sufficient to grip a writing instrument.

    This forum is a great place for encouragement with children of all levels of special needs. I remember when my son first received his myriad diagnoses, I was a wreck. It was difficult to envision the future. But the Lord is good. His mercies are ever renewed. And His steadfast love endures forever. It was such a happy accident that I found Memoria Press. My son has done so well with SC B. The format is simple to follow, and the connections he is making are meaningful and relevant to our faith and this world.
    Mama to 2, Married 17 years

    SY 19/20
    DD 8-3A
    DS 5-SC C

    Comment


      #3
      We have several SC families here whose children faced similar deprivation prior to their adoption beyond the age of infancy.

      And yes, your instinct is correct: Adjust expectations to the child's maturity and ability.

      We would add, however, that purposeful and structured "lessons" can help the delayed or struggling child, especially in areas of language, fine-motor skills, and social-emotional development. As enbateau mentioned, the Readiness Assessments are designed to help with proper placement. Like you, we want to be sure the child's language development and other areas are strengthened before moving forward. You may notice that our levels are designed for "chronological age or skill level," so if we indicate ages 4-5, this might translate to a child who is 10 or 11 with intellectual disability, a child who is 8 chronologically with a history of neglect, or any number of possible scenarios.
      Simply Classical Curriculum ~ Sign up for the new Simply Classical Journal today! ~ Read testimonials from schools and homeschools teaching with the Simply Classical Curriculum Not sure where to place your child? Click here to learn more about our Simply Classical Curriculum and take a Readiness Assessment.    Check out our other Simply Classical [...]
      Last edited by cherylswope; 02-13-2019, 10:26 AM.

      Comment


        #4
        A typical learner will make connections in a language-rich environment with access to books and a loving caregiver. Children with developmental delay need explicit training and overteaching to grasp foundational concepts. For instance, I just assumed my child would understand the 5 senses. I almost skipped it. He's 5 and we've read scores of books and raised him in a language-rich environment. It baffled me that it took him about 3 weeks to fully cement that we see with our eyes, hear with our ears, smell with our nose, taste with our tongue and touch with our fingers. Simply Classical B lovingly over-taught this concept, then they had us read The Poky Puppy. His comprehension of the story is significantly different from when we had read this story last summer. The explicit teaching of number sense, prepositions, elements of nature, body parts review and animal identification (which is still an emerging skill for my guy) were all directly taught prior to this read-aloud. I am literally in awe of the cohesion and thoughtfulness put into each piece of the curriculum. And now that I'm teaching my eldest, I see how they are laying the groundwork for concepts he'll visit in the upper grades.
        Mama to 2, Married 17 years

        SY 19/20
        DD 8-3A
        DS 5-SC C

        Comment


          #5
          Thanks! I glanced at the readiness assessments a while back, but I definitely need to look through them more closely. As you can probably guess, with 11 young kids (and seven of them having some level of delays), one of the difficult things is having the time to sit back and look at what we're doing and figure out if we need to do a complete overhaul. We've been using Mother of Divine Grace since my oldest started kindergarten, but we've made adjustments as needed over the years so really we're doing maybe 60% MODG, 40% things we find elsewhere, and while what we're doing right now is (in general) working, I'm left wondering if the MP resources would work better, but lacking the time and finances to try out everything. Plus we're still getting acquainted with the four "new" kids ... anyway, thank you so much for taking the time to respond. I'll definitely keep looking through the MP resources ... right now it's time to get everyone loaded up to go to speech therapy ...
          Mom to 11:
          Biological - ages 7, 6, 3, 1
          Adopted - ages 8, 7, 5
          Fostering to adopt - ages 6, 5, 3, 3

          Comment


            #6
            I will attempt to write more later but wanted to pop in for a second. I am mama to 4 through adoption. We adopted two at age 9 and 10 who experienced extreme trauma before adoption (every kind imaginable) plus have Fetal alcohol syndrome. I have met them consistently where they are academically and developmentally and while we do school we have lots of our days spent on supporting them with their challenges in lewrnlea to live in peace with others/cope with results of trauma. They are now 14 and 15 and have come a long way but I think have thorught neuropsych evaluated by a doctor well informed/experienced in trauma has helped us to keep realistic expectations for the them and advocate for yhem (without compromising in giving them beauty and truth in their education). I can't talk more right now due to my oldest having a very rough day but wanted to touch base here and invite you to feel free to reach out to me by email so we can chat more about our experiences. HEATHERLBRANDT@GMAIL.COM

            Again, I'm sorry this is so short but hope to talk to you more soon.

            Heather

            Comment


              #7
              I have limited experience with MODG. I still think it is a great program and I love how the Faith is wrapped up in more than just “religion”. However, I personally required more hand holding in teaching subjects (specifically reading). I think with 11 children you will appreciate the explicit instruction, Christian Faith, beauty, wonder, manners all wrapped up in a pretty open and go curriculum. If you get stuck, the help here is tremendous, no enrollment required. I think you might find level B a good place to start with everyone, adjusting up or down for writing, phonics and math. Your 3year old may use the coloring books schedule, but your older child the Rod and Staff workbooks. Everyone listens to the stories, poetry, songs, etc. This can help you build a rhythm, while targeting writing and phonics for older kids. If you already have the little ones around the table now, keep that going while you work one on one. You may not be able to complete a full lesson, but just work a little at a time, increasing as attention spans increase, stop before fatigue. Always begin with review, and if that is all that gets done that day, you are doing well,

              I commend you!
              Last edited by howiecram; 02-13-2019, 04:56 PM.
              Christine

              (2019/2020)
              DD1 8/23/09 - SC5/6
              DS2 9/1/11 - SC3,4, 5/6 combo
              DD3 2/9/13 -SC2 to start, MP1 second semester

              Previous Years
              DD 1 (MPK, SC2 (with AAR), SC3, SC4’
              DS2 (SCB, SCC, MPK, SC2)
              DD3 (SCA, SCB, Jr. K workbooks, soaking up from the others, MPK)

              Comment


                #8
                Yes, howiecram raises a good point. You may wish to group your children!

                We have a family whose six adopted children have intellectual disability. They range quite a bit in age including young teens with Down syndrome so she chose SC 1 to teach phonics, printing, and arithmetic from the beginning while enjoying all of the SC 1 Enrichment for everyone. She sent photos after they studied a Michelangelo painting and then each student painted while lyjng on their backs with paper taped to the underside of chairs.

                Your possibilities abound.

                Blessings on your transitions. We're here if you need us --
                Last edited by cherylswope; 02-13-2019, 05:38 PM.

                Comment


                  #9
                  I'm back on the forum because we are re-evaluating our 16yo son. Our family adopted 4 boys from extremely traumatic beginnings, our oldest is the "kid who got overlooked" and was in his traumatic beginnings for 12 1/2 years. God gave him to us through the foster care system which reported that he was in Special Ed and had speech therapy because "he is hard to understand." (We later found that he was documented as non-verbal and has an intellectual disability.)

                  What I have found is that trauma not only harms and interrupts their learning, but causes a bit of a spring effect in their learning. Our son was delayed and struggling, then progressing, then learning at an unbelievable rate (catching up), then struggling, then shutting down, then crawling along at slow but seemingly steady rate. So after 2 1/2 years, I think I might be (maybe?!) at a place to get a better evaluation for him.

                  Our other 3 adopted boys seem to have lost a block of academic progress that varies by child. Our 9yo has lost a 1 - 1 1/2 years and is working on 3rd grade, our 7yo has lost 2 - 3 years and is finishing Jr. K, and our 4yo has lost about 6 months - 1 year and is working on Jr. K. Now after 2 1/2 years in our family and home they seem to be progressing at their new grade level at a typical rate. The children all experienced that same "springing" into a new level only differing in the overall length of time they took to find their new level.

                  I am still VERY new to having kids who struggle from trauma and disabilities, but I hope that my experiences will help you find peace and sweetness in your homeschooling.

                  Rae

                  DD16 MP11
                  DS16 11th grade SPed charter, MP3
                  DS9 MP 3
                  DS7 MP Jr K
                  DS4 MP Jr K

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