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ATFF vs Intro to Comp for third grade

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    ATFF vs Intro to Comp for third grade

    I am planning ahead for third grade for my kiddo with a fascinating but sometimes challenging quirk. I posted this in a response in another section of the forum. They recommended I send it over here. I'm currently trying to figure out which Composition program to start him on in 3rd because there are some pretty strong preferences from different people who have done either/both. I posted the question of which program used more visuals in its style. My kiddo is a strong visual learner and has challenges with audible learning - although I don't let him get around that. Actually, I love the MP program for forcing the kiddo to listen closely to the questions (recitation) and having to read a passage over and over for read aloud and literature. This program has truly enhanced his ability to listen to the questions that are being asked.

    He really doesn't have an auditory processing disorder (APD) so much as it is as if there is a mechanical breakdown between what he hears and how he processes it (although if you ask him, he can repeat back "precisely" what you said. Have him read it, and he can understand 80% more. He doesn't actually hear different words themselves. He also has trouble creating his own authentic sentences without some "template" of the sentence structure to work from. He can retell stories that he has modified to have different characters, different endings, and different actions but ask a simple question about what he has just read, such as "Is it night time or day time?" and he may stumble. It's often challenging to figure out where he is stumbling. Did he understand the question? Did he understand the passage? Can he answer the question? That's actually 3 different problems. It's taken me a while to figure this out. Only after about 3-4 readings does he have a good grasp of the material. Hearing him read is strange because he has inflection, he changes his voice, he uses amazing intonation - but that doesn't mean he fully absorbed the material.

    Strangely enough, even if he has trouble composing some sentences, he always recognizes when a sentence is poorly written, and he has no trouble understanding which pronouns to use or how the a sentence should look when given a few options. In fact, if you give him several words and ask him to write sentences using those words, he can come up with perfect sentences. It's as if he is absorbing phonics and grammar amazingly well, but without the ability to hear it audibly or compose it verbally near as well as he can when it's written.

    Here's a little background when I say that he is a "visual learner". It's a copy and paste from another thread on the forum.


    Teaching my son to talk was a lot like teaching him language as if it were a second language. I know that makes no sense but follow me for a minute. Think about how we teach Latin. We are memorizing words and phrases. It's not an organic acquisition of language like a young child slowly acquiring his native tongue from his parents. It is targeted memorization. It's memorizing phrases, and eventually, we will modify those phrases to create new sentences, but our ability to actually create phrases from "scratch" without a phrase template to start with is a long way off - once we have memorized our way nearly through the entire language itself will we be able to "begin" thinking in that language. Teaching my son to talk has been a work not unlike that. At first, he was thought to be on the spectrum (which I loathe because that word spectrum tells us nothing at all...may as well call it a cold - but that's a rant for another day). But over time, these qualifiers that would put him on the spectrum seem to be falling away. He was able to adapt - some by me teaching him, and in other ways, he just taught himself work arounds. For example, at 2-3 he was hand flapping around his face when I put him in his high chair to eat. I had this crazy thought one day that the human eye does not like things to move randomly close to it. So, when he started flapping his hand, I had him hold onto a set of baby keys. They are soft plastic, but when waved wildly close to the eye, the natural inclination to protect the eye was there. Slowly, he would move his hand further from his body to "flap". Eventually he moved his hand down closer to his body. Finally, he simply stopped doing it altogether - just by putting something in his hand that would trigger a self preservation response. He quit flapping after a year.

    Language was a weird one. It took forever to help him talk because he had a subtle, but strangely strong tongue tie. At 2, we had it clipped back and in 2 weeks, he finally had consonant sounds. Early on, I didn't realize it, but it is odd for a kid not quite three to be able to read 80 words - words only (not the pictures). At 8, he can decode sounds better than most kids. He doesn't always understand the words he is able to create from them. He can read a passage and understand when the speaker changes and he modifies his voice for everyone. It's really fun to hear him drop his voice deep to speak as John Noble.

    At 5, he was tested and they decided he had the auditory and receptive understanding of a child 18 months younger. At this age, he started to repeat my words in the form of questions. He would ask me, "Do you want some water?" Then he started to modify the question slightly. Then it seemed like he was quoting movies - only to get to the one sentence he wanted to tell me so that he could substitute the word he needed. As a parent, I had to learn to speak Disney, Pixar, etc. I could see where he was going when he wanted to communicate something to me. After a while, he timidly started forming very short sentences. They were so difficult for them because they had no template. He was creating them from scratch. He could talk your ear off at the is point, but if you asked him a simple question that didn't have an easy sentence template, he would truly struggle. One day it dawned on me that it really was as if he was trying to acquire language the same way I learned French in HS. Well, fortunately, there's about a million youtube videos to help kids learning English as a second language. They slow down the spoken word. They write the words on the screen. The actions move at a slower pace. This was a tremendous help to him.

    Now, I spend a lot of time supplying vocabulary to the words that he reads. He's a trooper though. He never complains when I correct his sentence structure, or have him enunciate the "L" or "TH" or "R" sounds. He will painstakingly try again and again to speak it correctly if I've taken the time to help him get the sentence right.

    He can see things visually though that surprise me. He can build animals or tv characters in 3D using legos without a template or instruction. He will draw and even paint nature pictures of animals in his stories from a perspective that I never would have thought to do or even attempt (think of looking at a fish from the mouth to the tail, rather than from the profile). He understands the nature of facial expressions, and every little character he draws will have a dramatic facial expression to convey more than just the words of the story. He is patient. So very patient. He will paint an entire illustrated fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood....heavily modified to have him in it, where he made cupcakes for his Nana. He will paint every single scene in the conversation, filling up books overnight if I don't catch him and send him back to bed. He retold "Going on a Bear Hunt" through the perspective of dog following three boys by painting over 30 pictures to illustrate his story that he then spent half an hour telling. His story was original, with very little of the original story being used. Language has really developed for him now. He can do all of this, but he can't answer the simple question "What did you dream about last night?" with an answer other than a dream he "wished" he had dreamed.

    Math is easy. Latin is easy. Science is easy. Bible is very difficult. Doable. But difficult. There are a lot of "invisible verbs" in Bible studies. Things that require memorization? No problem whatsoever. So with all that (I'm having trouble sleeping tonight!) that is why I ask if the ATFF program to understand and break up sentence structure is a visual one. I feel like something that uses a great deal of visual breakdown could really make a difference to help him with sentence composition. I kind of hope that a course that is generally used to learn to write will actually have an ancillary benefit of helping him verbally communicate with the world and collect his thoughts into the sentences he wants to create. He's basically memorizing his way through our slang, our colloquialisms, our general chatter. It's just actual work for him. Sometimes, he is spot on. Other times, it is painfully wrong. And still other times, he has a comedic timing that will put you in stitches because he will quote a line from a movie at the precise moment in real life where it is hysterical.

    He is a fascinating case to me. I've just learned to treat this as a mechanical problem - as if there is a road block to communication - and he and I both are striving to create work arounds to get past the road block.
    Melissa

    DS (MP4M) - 10
    DS (MP3A) - 8
    DS (1) - 7
    DD (Adorable distraction) 4

    #2
    Your fascinating son reminds me of my fascinating daughter!

    First, does he receive pragmatic language therapy? If not, you might want to look into a strong, capable SLP who specializes in such things. You can search by "social communication disorders," "semantic pragmatic language," or "pragmatic language." Our language therapist was brilliant in these areas. We found her through a children's hospital. Even though you seem highly and instinctively adept at targeting exactly what he needs, it can be helpful to have someone else on your team. An in-person sounding board may suggest things you have not uncovered, provide encouraging accountability, and give your son another person to "learn" in his language development.

    Second, he might like the "rote" feel of the supplement we use in our Simply Classical Curriculum -- Core Skills: Language Arts 2. My daughter loved such exercises. No matter what you choose, consider Core Skills: Language Arts 1, 2, or 3. If you intend for the supplement to be largely independent and he can read the directions himself, 2 might suit him nicely.

    Finally, you can teach well with either ATFF or Intro to Comp, as you learned on K-8. ATFF might be more visual, as you suspect, simply because of the outlining involved. If you are leaning this way, give it a try. We sidestepped ATFF in SC only because we need cohesive, streamlined writing in SC. Our students (and their teachers) lack the stamina and time to hop from one program to another throughout the day. MP's Intro to Comp provides exactly what we need through the literature we already read. This improves comprehension in the literature we are reading and works on composition without requiring yet another set of stories to read and learn. Of course, no matter what you choose, you can (and likely will need to) make the teaching more visual for your son. Outlines, boxes, fill-in-the-blanks, illustrations, maps, charts, diagrams -- you can use them all.

    Let us know what you decide to do. We would love to follow his progress.

    Comment


      #3
      I'm sure you'll get much better advise, but I'm enjoying my morning tea and yours is the only new post, LOL. With my older 3 children I used IEW and went through their SWI/SICC series. I have used (rather, attempted to use) some of IEW's themed books like ATFF, and I just didn't care for them. I much prefer SWI-A to ATFF. With child #4, I tried Intro to Comp. Weren't using literature on the same level, so it didn't flow well and I switched the child to SWI-A. If I had it to do over again, I probably would have done Literature as written and used Intro to Comp as scheduled with Literature. With my youngest, I will be using Intro to Comp with Literature as scheduled with SC. I haven't done it yet (getting close), but I think it will flow very well being tied to other things he is doing. I think it will also take less time because it will be working with what he is already doing, but, again, I haven't done it yet. The less time and energy we have to spend on Composition the better ;-)

      My son is also extremely visual. He has fine motor issues related to his apraxia, so he doesn't paint, draw, or write like your son. He too can build Legos and has been able to do puzzles way above his age level (at 4 he started doing them upside down because they were too easy when he could see the pictures). He still does them upside down, and you can tell that he can see the picture on the pieces facing the table because he picks up pieces, looks at the picture, and then puts connects them to the upside down puzzle based on the picture. He too is very good a math. We haven't started Latin yet because of his lag in language caused by his apraxia and auditory processing disorder. I don't know that any of the programs will be easier than the other based on this strength, but the cohesion with Literature will (I think) make the addition of Composition less traumatic for my son because it doesn't add as much extra work for him. I guess we will see.
      Cheryl, mom to:

      ds 26, graduated
      ds 25, graduated
      dd 11th Grade
      dd 8th Grade
      ds 6th Grade

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by cherylswope View Post
        Your fascinating son reminds me of my fascinating daughter!

        First, does he receive pragmatic language therapy? If not, you might want to look into a strong, capable SLP who specializes in such things. You can search by "social communication disorders," "semantic pragmatic language," or "pragmatic language." Our language therapist was brilliant in these areas. We found her through a children's hospital. Even though you seem highly and instinctively adept at targeting exactly what he needs, it can be helpful to have someone else on your team. An in-person sounding board may suggest things you have not uncovered, provide encouraging accountability, and give your son another person to "learn" in his language development.

        Second, he might like the "rote" feel of the supplement we use in our Simply Classical Curriculum -- Core Skills: Language Arts 2. My daughter loved such exercises. No matter what you choose, consider Core Skills: Language Arts 1, 2, or 3. If you intend for the supplement to be largely independent and he can read the directions himself, 2 might suit him nicely.

        Finally, you can teach well with either ATFF or Intro to Comp, as you learned on K-8. ATFF might be more visual, as you suspect, simply because of the outlining involved. If you are leaning this way, give it a try. We sidestepped ATFF in SC only because we need cohesive, streamlined writing in SC. Our students (and their teachers) lack the stamina and time to hop from one program to another throughout the day. MP's Intro to Comp provides exactly what we need through the literature we already read. This improves comprehension in the literature we are reading and works on composition without requiring yet another set of stories to read and learn. Of course, no matter what you choose, you can (and likely will need to) make the teaching more visual for your son. Outlines, boxes, fill-in-the-blanks, illustrations, maps, charts, diagrams -- you can use them all.

        Let us know what you decide to do. We would love to follow his progress.
        See, you got better advise while I was writing, LOL. The bold above is exactly why we are using Intro to Comp with the language component of SC :-)
        Cheryl, mom to:

        ds 26, graduated
        ds 25, graduated
        dd 11th Grade
        dd 8th Grade
        ds 6th Grade

        Comment


          #5
          Welcome, mama!

          How long have you been with MP? This is my family's first year, and we're set to finish end of April. I have one in MP2 and one in SC B. I love what SC has done for my son with a LBLD (language-based learning disability). Don't you hate the word disability? All I see are my son's ABILITIES. And I couldn't agree more about how frustrating diagnoses are. My son was also initially diagnosed as ASD, and then they took it away and called it something else that basically means he still suffers with the same things. And his neurodevelopmental pediatricians said it has zero predictive abilities for hiw my son will fare. They literally said he could range from institutionalized all the way up to college-bound and marriageable...only time would tell. It felt like snake oil salesmen of old. Geesh, with predictions that broad, anyone could be right!

          Anyway, I share your frustration. I have a small tip: take it or leave it. My son has truly benefited from the deliberate overteaching of certain concepts. Get ahold of a Simply Classical curriculum manual and see if it speaks to your concerns. I could not believe some of the concepts SC went over that I assumed my child already knew but didn't: the 5 senses, body parts awareness, foods, plants, personal routines. My husband was incredulous that our son couldn't articulate that you see with your eyes and smell with your nose and hear with your ears and touch with your fingers. That concept is still emerging. So, what I have done is go back through the manual and highlight everything I want to work on next year or the summer. The CM's aren't super spendy, and you could go through one designed for your son's level and write up a list of concepts you want to work in. Everything is designed to set them up for eventually doing MP materials, so you'll be blown away at how it all relates to what he and all your kids will be learning. My son is doing stuff that will set him up for Greek mythology, Little Hose in the Big Woods, Astronomy, Christian Studies, etc. It's awesome.
          Mama of 2, teacher of 3

          SY 21/22
          5A w/ SFL & CC Narrative class
          MP1

          Completed MPK, MP1 Math & Enrichment, MP2, 3A, 4A
          SC B, SC C, SC1 (Phonics/Math), SC2's Writing Book 1

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by enbateau View Post

            Don't you hate the word disability? All I see are my son's ABILITIES. A
            Amen.

            It's laughable, but my quirky eight year old kid knows more basic geography now than my 19 yr younger sister who just recently graduated high school with barely a 2.0 GPA who believes that "Asia is a country in Africa" and is belligerent when I clarify, claiming most people don't know that. God help us all if she's right about that. Somehow my sister with fantastic neuro-typical learning skills, yet chooses illiteracy and low level learning, is considered "normal". Sheesh.

            On your advice, I'm really going to take a hard look at the SC program manual. Golden advice there. Thank you so much.
            Melissa

            DS (MP4M) - 10
            DS (MP3A) - 8
            DS (1) - 7
            DD (Adorable distraction) 4

            Comment

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