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Needing Advice

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    Needing Advice

    Hi Everyone,

    So there are a couple of pressing things I really need advice about regarding my younger son. Over the past year school has increasingly taken longer and longer to accomplish compared to the past. I've pared things down to, what for other kids, could be completed in just the morning hours. But for my son, this tiny bit of school and his various therapies take from morning until night. The learning cursive thing, sadly, has turned out to be a 'curse' in that it hasn't helped school and writing to go quicker. It's slowed things down because of his OCD and his desire to erase every letter or every word and rewrite it. The other thing that has slowed things down is that he absolutely refuses to NOT wrap his thumb around the pencil. I've purchased every pencil grip off Amazon (yes, EVERY single style) in an attempt to remediate t his. He's been using pencil grips since he first started writing in print and also in cursive. He still will find a way to wrap the thumb around. So I've been sitting at his side every day for hours trying to bring his thumb back to proper place EVERY DAY FOR SEVERAL HOURS. This makes a 15 minute thing usually take several hours to complete.

    Where are we at currently:

    - I'm trying to finish Spelling D and have about 5 lessons left to complete before Labor Day
    - We are only half way through on Math 3, not necessarily related to these issues discussed (he does less of this OCD writing with his math and numbers) but because I'm being OCD myself wanting to make sure I get the 'teaching' done out of the teacher's manual ....then there's the 2 pages in the student text ....then there's the student workbook. What do you all think of the student workbook pages? They are different than those in the text and I think even harder. Maybe just me. All this to say, we won't have math done by Labor Day. We'll probably move into Math 4 (hopefully) by end of year or January at the latest.
    - We did finish Latina Christiana
    - We only made it through 1/2 of Mammals again because of this OCD writing thing
    - We are only part way through EGR 1

    In the Fall, we will do this:

    - Astronomy at the co-op
    - Greek Myths at the co-op (we will NOT being doing all the workbook on this, but mostly just reading and audio recordings of the stories, learning some of the vocab and memory work)
    - Christian Studies 1 (hopefully completely without modifications)
    - Just continue on with Math wherever we are
    - Modify FFL and just do our best with steady plodding on that given there are no SC plans
    - Spelling E
    - Continue on with EGR 1
    - Continue on with Lit wherever we are, picking some of the remainder of 3rd and some of 4th

    I'm very sad that I don't have a success story as so many others have here. I was sharing with my husband in tears that my son's language processing and narration abilities really haven't mproved at all in the past few years since turning to MP. I don't understand why all that this is supposed to do to help special needs children isn't helping my son.

    Susan P in VA
    Last edited by SPearson; 07-03-2019, 01:14 PM.

    I am sorry that your feeling like you have not improved. I see
    a) that you completed Latina Christiiana (in a year?) I see this as a huge win!!! I hope you will celebrate this!
    b) you are going to begin Literature, around the 3/4 grade level. I remember when you first started with MP1 literature, so these seems like an accomplishment to me? I found the Lit 2 guides to be difficult because it was hard for me to ask a bunch of leading questions (I wish these were provided for us) to finally then be able to ask the question in the guide. - Did you ever do SC2? If not, I would recommend, at the very list the little Calvin the caterpillar, plus the picture "who, what, when, where, why, how" cards from it. I know Cheryl just mentioned this to someone else recently and was looking into how this could be provided without purchasing the whole guide. I think this might help. (I just realized this would help with my previous problem with the Lit 2 guides and plan to use it alongside the Lit 3 guides).
    c) we only finished 1/2 of mammals as well.
    d) Math 3. It is intended to be done in 2 years, so if you are half way or more than half way through, I would also consider this a win. We had to do every.single.thing in the teacher's book, so it would take us 2 days to do. Eventually, she moved faster and we could complete more in a day. A few things I did do though. a) she is required to do a fact form At the start of the year, this was the only thing she did some days, it took so long. I remember the first time she finished one in 5 minutes! "wow, all that hard work paid off!" - she said! In your case, perhaps you do it with him, and have him tell you the answers. You write them for him, for now. I started doing any of the "tables" pages orally. We did some of the addition problems on a white board (I wrote them) and she solved them. I then assigned only a few to be written. At the start of the year, i copied the problems for her. As her stamina improved, she started writing them. I like the workbook, but if it is causing stress, drop it for now.

    I hope you will celebrate the wins he HAS had! I look forward to seeing you next week!

    DD1 8/23/09 - Mix of MP5 and MP6 (SFL, Birds, R&S 6 Math, MPOA Narrative)
    DS2 9/1/11 - MP4
    DD3 2/9/13 -MP2 or SC4? (still debating!)

    Previous Years
    DD 1 (MPK, SC2 (with AAR), SC3, SC4, SC 5/6, MP4 + FFL and R&S Math 5, MPOA Fable
    DS2 (SCB, SCC, MPK, SC2/AAR/Storytime Treasures), Traditional Spelling 1, SC5/6 Year 1
    DD3 (SCA, SCB, Jr. K workbooks, soaking up from the others, MPK, AAR), MP1


      Hi, Susan.

      This is the son with whom you have taught straight MP, not SC, correct?

      If yes, we can discuss at Sodalitas some ways you can still target specifically language processing and narration (as in SC 2, 3, 4) that he might have missed.

      Regarding his writing and pencil grip, cursive, etc., consider typing. He could still complete copy book for penmanship, but he can begin to type answers if this helps. He is at an age where this is a reasonable accommodation.

      Regarding the length of his work days, this can be counterproductive with OCD, as the brain never has time to relax, "unwind," and refresh. As you imply in your post, something needs to change because this is not working well for either of you.

      As you know, language-based games and select literature chosen as enjoyable, shared read-alouds may have a greater impact on his language than seemingly endless therapies, battles over pencil grip, and long periods of homework.

      On your way to Sodalitas, if not before, step back and create a vision in your mind of what you would like his day to be. (Not what or how you wish HE would be, but what you would like for his healthiest, best day to be, start to finish.) Build in his interests. Add in ways for him to truly relax or refresh. Include the new friend you mentioned in the mix. Perhaps most important, be sure you have some time apart from him for your own refreshing, even if it is simply going outside and reading your own leisure books silently and separately without any pressure.

      Bring this vision to Sodalitas or post here. We can help you craft a better way for both of you.

      We have a saying in our house: Discouragement is often the springboard to necessary change.

      No need to apologize for the discouragement. Let's see it as helpful information. Maybe some of the therapies are not worth the time & effort, or maybe different teaching approaches could help his language.

      Bottom line: As your older son presses forward, this may be an excellent time to re-evaluate goals and plans for your younger son.


        Thanks Christine! I'm sorry if my post was confusing. What I was saying is that I'm sad that in my son's greatest areas of challenge there hasn't really been any improvement. So his completion of LC I knew would go pretty well based on his completion of PL. His progression through Math is in keeping with what I've seen. What I'm saying is the TIME he's taking to completely workbook type things has actually gotten worse (because of his OCD writing thing) and his ability to talk about what he's reading/learning, to narrate, to answer questions has not improved. I still have to sit with him, for example, when he's answering questions in a student workbook for Mammals or in a Lit Guide and help coach him, direct him to the content to where he might find the answer. Then model correct answering in a sentence on a whiteboard of him to copy. I haven't seen any improvement in any of this.

        Susan P in VA


          Susan, I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned your own anxiety about doing things “just so”:

          At his age, if he wraps his thumb but has great writing (which we know he does!) — let the thumb stay where it is.

          Don't do every problem on every math page, or every written question on every lit page. Not even NT kids do this!!! If he needs more practice, do that orally.

          Also, from someone with OCD — don’t enable him on the perfectionism. He needs to be told that he may only erase x number of letters in each answer. This will be very difficult for him but in the end it will be amazingly liberating. He’s trapped in this cycle of writing/erasing because of the record in his head saying “it has to be perfect.” It’s truly a trap and he will need this help to get free of it.

          Blog: [url][/url]

          DS18: Almost done!
          DS17: MP, MPOA
          DS15: MP, MPOA
          DS12: Mix of SC 5/6 & SC 7/8
          DD11: Mix of 5M and SC7/8
          DD9: SC3
          DD6: MPK


            Thank you Cheryl . Just to clarify, the new friend I wrote to you about privately, is for my older son. We can talk more when I see you. This son has no friends and I've tried EVERYTHING. No one is interested.

            I do feel as though I really, really, really need the help here from the SN 'Tribe'. And I trust you and others remember why I haven't been able to spend a lot of extra money on SC plans that have components that he's already completed. You might remember from a few years back (when I put him in MP1). He's always been a step ahead of some of the SC plans, although clearly could benefit from select pieces. At 14 years old, I can't bring myself to go back to SC 2 or 3 and redo things like "Little Bear" that we did years ago. I need specific, targeted, intentional help for his narration, language, language processing, comprehension, and dialogue skills.

            I will work on the homework assignment you gave me to cast a vision. Thank you, it's a good one. As for typing, that will be quite a therapeutic undertaking as he has no experience with keyboarding.

            SusanP in vA



              Yes, I know about only doing a certain number of answers in the Lit guides. We already have been doing a select few this whole year. And for a really long time, many, many months I've been not allowing the erasing. The latest approach (which I don't know is good or not) has been to count a certain number of seconds for him to write a word and then I take the pencil and finish the word for him so we can move on. I made the joke about the OCD approach to math as, mostly, a joke. I don't believe I've incorporated OCD teaching into what I'm doing with him, given how VERY MUCH I modify, shrink down, etc. I discovered t he hard way that, if I don't do the teacher part of the math lesson, we pay the price down the road. So that's what I meant by that comment. I know it will pay off to be faithful to get the teacher section done with him.



                Thank you for clarifying about the friendship. My apologies. (I'll admit I questioned as I was typing.)

                Yes, we can help without needing to go back through Little Bear, etc. Christine's idea is a good one.

                This need is coming up in several posts, so we may need to consider pulling those visual aids, language/writing rubrics, and oral language teaching notes and placing them into separate lesson plans -- nothing ultra-expensive, just a set of aids, notes, rubrics, & tips to help in this area. These would be things a person could use alongside MP or SC. We will work on this. I'll also bring some ideas to share within our SC sessions. My Michelle and I have been working on these sessions this week and plan to make them "meatier" than ever, both at Sodalitas and pre-conference.

                This was a timely post. We will do our best to help you, so you can help your dear son.



                  Thank you. I will (sadly, publicly) confess that I've questioned my upcoming trip to KY. I have gotten to the point of viewing it as nothing more than a social experience and 'break away". I couldn't decide which break-outs to attend. And I just don't have time t o come to the SC breakouts to hear an 'overview' of the curriculum. This feedback is nothing new, I've said it before. I really need targeted help. I don't think I've seen any synopsis other than a title for the SC breakouts for Monday and Tuesday. I'm sure I'm just missing something somewhere here on the website.

                  I would love to see our SC breakouts at SG to be a real time of intentional help for those of us there, and for us seasoned moms with older SN kids. But for many months I hadn't seen anything here on the forum asking for feedback or any discussion so I've, quite frankly, been confused about how SC was being handled at SG.

                  SusanP in VA


                    Duly noted! Yes, at Sodalitas this year SC is organized by academic topic in a manner similar to traditional MP sessions. We intend to provide good information for teaching children with special learning & behavioral needs both in the tutorial/homeschool setting and co-op/classroom while also giving tips and strategies that will apply in both settings.

                    Just so you know, at this time our SC sessions will not be filmed to enable attendees to ask questions freely and privately.

                    We have only an hour for each topic, but we have eight of those hour-long topics and intend for no one to return home without a good, specific plan and a newly filled "toolbox."
                    Last edited by cherylswope; 07-03-2019, 05:27 PM.


                      Okay, quick question though. If there's a SN mom in there teaching a SN kid a subject you haven't developed plans for in SC, are those questions off limits? Meaning, are you only covering questions related to the currently published SC curriculum?


                        Instead of editing the post I just wrote, I'll do an add-on so it's not flagged as spam. I can't find any synopsis on the SC break-outs. All I can find are the words "Subject Matter X and Tips/Scope" .....please know, Cheryl, I'm not being snarky but these titles lead me to think it's an overview session of SC (what you've developed and what you will be developing next). And I've, of course, been in those sessions and have all those scope/sequence hand-outs.

                        In the Latin break-out, would you discuss how one who handle FFL, even though plans aren't developed? Would Math tackle R&S Math above 3rd even though plans aren't developed next? As for writing....and I've been giving this a LOT of thought the past many months......some SN kids I just believe probably can't handle Classical Comp. They need a different path. That will be my boy. I'm inclined to think it's okay to just accept that now and begin to look to the future. What are you discussing about writing? Only the SC Writing that's been developed so far? Or questions like these? Such as: How do we develop a longer plan for writing for a SN kid who probably can't do CC?

                        Sorry, friend. Not unloading. I probably should have been reaching out about this a long time ago. But I kept checking the forum and just never saw discussions about the SC breakouts and just kept wondering.....

                        Looking forward to giving you a hug in person. You are a gift to us, a gift of far-reaching eternal worth.



                          Our SG intent overall is twofold:

                          1. teaching how to teach SC for those who are ready for this instruction (because we will have newcomers and we will have people ready for their next SC level),
                          2. teaching more generally how to teach the necessary knowledge and skills (math, Latin, writing, spelling) with any student who has special needs but who may be older than existing SC levels or who may be learning from straight MP.

                          We will leave time for questions and discussion in each session, so bring those questions! Others may help answer, as often happens.

                          We can also meet privately as time permits.

                          Btw, do you still have those FFL suggestions (e.g., color-coding present system, perfect system)? I can "advance" you additional FFL ideas if you need them. I love FFL and think it will be attainable for many of our older students with special needs.

                          Regarding writing, I plan to lead a demonstration intended to be helpful for teaching writing in all content areas.

                          The evening is approaching here, so I must close but I appreciate your honesty. There is still time for me to polish sessions and handouts with a view to meeting the needs you mention. Feel free to add until Friday noon if you think of additional needs. (This goes for everyone.)

                          Signing off now and through the 4th but will check back Friday morning.

                          Thanks, all --



                            Thank you dear Cheryl. Yes, still have your ideas for FFL and am excited, knowing my boy (and trusting so many others) can truly learn Latin. I will share more if I think of anything. I am so thankful for what you will be doing in these sessions you describe.


                              Originally posted by SPearson View Post

                              As for writing....and I've been giving this a LOT of thought the past many months......some SN kids I just believe probably can't handle Classical Comp. They need a different path. That will be my boy.
                              Yikes, I've been struggling with this one. I'm gearing up to start MP3 and I'm staring down at the Classical Composition program - specifically the Introduction to Composition. I decided to use this one instead of IEW, hoping to help my son have better comprehension of the literature. I'm walking this decision back now - but with a twist.

                              Honestly, my son's comprehension of literature isn't his real problem - at least it isn't anymore. His reception of reading has really taken off this year. What he struggles with is expression. Verbal and written expression are really the last strongholds of his challenges we haven't quite mastered. It takes a great deal of work to create the visual roadmaps to help him understand how to respond to the questions in the literature guides. Usually, he wants to copy his answer - word for word- out of the book, rather than come up with his own sentence. It's not that he can't come up with authentic sentences - it's the process of restating them in his own words that gives him a problem. Looking at Intro to Comp, I see the same problem magnified. He will want to write out 3 EXACT sentences for the outline. His expressive language, while always improving, challenges him and if he sees a shortcut - like copying the original sentence rather than coming up with his own - he will take it.

                              I need a writing program that actually starts at a more basic level and shows how to begin writing the summary sentence in the first place. I struggle here because it's not that he can't create sentences. The kid will create and write his own detailed stories. That's just the problem though - those stories are authentic and he is in total control. Having him restate a story, without prompts, without restating it word-for-word, that's my problem.

                              I need a robust tool for this kind of issue. I watched this webinar from IEW.


                              The webinar is called "Experience Excellence in Writing". These seem like nice people, but they kind of take about 15 minutes just chatting before they get into the writing program itself. If you are in a hurry, go to the 15:00 mark exactly (I just looked it up). They discuss why writing itself is hard - more than that, why "teaching" writing is hard. It discusses why you need a very detailed teaching method for teaching writing. They walk you though the first lesson. Immediately, I can see how this is going to be a game changer. I need this tool to teach how to grab important keywords and then use those keywords to develop sentences. I need a very formalized structure for learning the "framework" of writing before I can get my son to dive a bit deeper and develop better summary tools.

                              Also, I'm not using All Things Fun and Fascinating. I spoke with IEW directly. That's actually a book that expects you, the parent, to know quite a bit about the program. It's a "themed" book. They have many different "themed" books. It's not exactly their "book 1". The "book 1" is called "Student Writing Intensive". The bonus here - it comes with teaching DVD's (think Prima Latina). That is going to really help me here. The themed books, unfortunately, do not have training DVDs - either for the parent or the kid. Think of these themed books as "What to do after the initial year of writing training". The deeper I delved into this program, I decided to take the plunge and get the deluxe combo that included a parent training course - one that I believe will make a huge difference for me to be able to train up my son (and all of my kids) in writing. I almost decided on the "value program", but those extra books are a supplemental to the writing program that may be worth their weight in gold. I watched some youtube reviews about them and I am not going to miss those now. I'm actually "excited" about this because I see a path forward that might make real gains here.

                              Please understand, I'm not saying that CC is beyond the ability of my kid or any other SN kid. I'm not saying I won't be using CC - far from it actually. I'm saying that CC looks like a writing program that helps kids learn to "Think", "React", "Agree or disagree", "Refute", "Summarize"... I can't get him there until I help him master his expression first. Otherwise, these deeper thoughts might stay in his head! IEW is a more formal program for drawing this framework out. Since MP is using some of these materials now, I feel comfortable that the IEW program has been vetted by enough at MP and the Highlands Latin School that I'm not going totally "off-curriculum".

                              The program should arrive soon so if you are curious, send me a message and I'll let you know how it really looks once I put my own hands on it.

                              Good luck Mama!

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