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Too much work, too little time!

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    Too much work, too little time!

    Hello again! Our family is back from a sabbatical and my 2nd grade (9yo) son (dyslexia/visual processing challenges, low working memory, slow processing speed) is back at his classical Christian school. We were free to try some resources more helpful to him while we were away, and I am continuing to pull him out of the classroom for reading (using All About Reading) and potentially spelling too, although we haven't managed to get to that yet. His homework (three nights a week) consists of a math worksheet (Saxon Math...math fact memorization is hard for him, so those often go agonizingly slow) and memory verse practice (also s-l-o-w, but doing it!!! ). His teacher told me today that he isn't finishing copywork before she needs to move on, so she will begin to send that home as well. Sometimes there is also a book to read. My current assessment of his progress is: he's doing great in progressing with reading, and I am so proud of his memory verses! He's hanging in there with math, and he's working hard when I'm with him and pull him out of the classroom. I know it's hard to plug right back in and keep going for a whole long school day. HOWEVER....I still haven't fit spelling in, cursive is starting, etc... It feels like modifications/accommodations are working in one respect, but I can't find time to get everything in. Do you have any suggestions for this? Cheryl, you sent me a fabulous response one time outlining ways to address my son's challenges while staying at the school. I feel like we're getting to the end of the list of options. Homeschooling last semester went pretty well, but it was in a major city in Europe. I'm less inclined to doing it where we live because the resources/community aren't the same. He wants to stay in school, so I"m doing my best to make that happen. I'm committed to going to the school daily, but I'd love any further suggestions on how to cram it all in! Are there things you would suggest asking his teacher if he could just NOT do? Will alternating days on reading/spelling mess with needed consistency? Any other suggestions? Thank you so much!

    Hello, SJune80!

    To recap:
    - Your 9yo son (dyslexia, low working memory, slow processing) is in a classical Christian school every day for full days.
    - You are the sole "pull-out services" provider for your son at the school.
    - You provide these services daily at the school.
    - Currently he is pulled for reading, but you are considering spelling as well.
    - You then provide 1:1 tutoring at home at least three nights per week in reading, one long written math drill page, memory work, with copywork and cursive soon to be added.
    - His work days are too long and he struggles to work hard in the classroom after being pulled for 1:1, but he wants to continue attending the school.

    Your questions:
    - How can you (and he) do it all?
    - Would alternating 1:1 spelling/reading at school help?
    - Are there things the teacher might NOT require?

    Some thoughts:
    - When was his last evaluation with diagnoses? Did you receive I.Q. testing with a good summary of scores in each subtest? Did the examiner make recommendations for accommodations in the report?
    - If you have written documentation of his specific learning disabilities, you may certainly request accommodations to his workload. Explain that he wants to remain at the school, that (based on your 11/19 post) his work habits and motivation have improved by being there, and that you are only asking to avoid diminishing returns with a workload that has become excessive given his diagnosed conditions.
    - You might request these accommodations:
    1. Exchange Saxon's written page (is it the onerous Timed Drill page?) for a faster means of math-fact review. Acknowledge that he needs the math-fact practice, but that he works quickly with xyz method of review. Substitute whatever form of math-fact practice works well with him at home. Examples: Ball-bouncing (1x2 = 2, pass, 2x2 = 4, pass, 2x3 = 6, pass); vertical jumping on a mini-tramp; flash cards; oral recitation from a math-fact grid. Create a schedule with only the facts he needs to review. Allow only 10 minutes nightly for this review, but do it nightly. Suggest to the teacher that you & she re-evaluate his progress after three months. If he is doing well, he may continue omitting that math page.
    2. Defer till summer his copywork if this is tied to his memory verse. He is already doing well with the memory verses. Tell her you will keep these for him to use as summer practice, so he will not be "getting out of them," but will rather shift them to his light summer school. In the meantime he will continue learning the memory verses like a champ, but he will do this in the manner that is already beginning to work for him.
    3. Allow the book to be an audiobook, partner-read, or as a read-aloud. A side suggestion for home: Perhaps this could be read by your husband (?) to model male reading and to reduce your own workload.
    4. Teach math with ample visual aids or consider allowing him to attend math in a class at a different level. If she is using Saxon, those teaching lessons can be very brief, i.e., "blink and you miss it," yet they assume that you "got it." If you feel he needs a lower level in math, consider a placement test so he can be learning where he needs to be, rather than merely be pulled along without mastery. You might even teach him for math yourself, as you could then use whatever program you like. Note that part of the problem with the Timed Drill may be that those pages are not filled with truly mastered math facts for him. Instead, they have become at such a high level that these are math problems for him to figure out every night. If so, that needs to change. A new math class might be in order not only for daytime but also for homework.
    5. Agree to a quarterly meeting with the teacher to assess his progress in the class, see where additional changes could be made, and make plans for next year. You will want to note effective accommodations in writing now, so these can be repeated next year.

    Other thoughts:
    - Do allow him to learn cursive. This might help his speed (writing fluency) in the end. You do not want him to be the only one in the room not learning cursive. He may find that he enjoys it far more than laborious manuscript.
    - I would not alternate reading and spelling. He needs daily reading instruction. For a dyslexic 9yo, few things will help him more than daily reading instruction and practice. Yet he also needs spelling. Perhaps with the above accommodations, you will find time for 2-3x/week spelling, if not daily. Both spelling and reading are essential for him, preferably taught at his prime learning time.
    - Plan to teach reading and spelling with some writing and math practice for 5-8 weeks this summer. He will need some weeks of break, but this will give you the assurance that you have a safety net when time grows too short this year.

    That post you referenced may contain additional tips to use or to share with the teacher.
    We’re currently homeschooling for a semester while on sabbatical, and I’m using a blend of our school’s classical curriculum, Simply Classical (writing, Storytime Treasures, Copybook), and All About Reading for my son. He is 9yo but in 2nd grade at his school. We’ve had some success with modifying curriculum and
    Last edited by cherylswope; 01-17-2020, 08:53 AM.



      As always, thank you for your thorough response!

      1. In answer to your first question, our son had a comprehensive psychological evaluation in Spring 2018. This was after already seeing a pediatric optometrist for vision therapy in an effort to deal with visual processing skills (our son had eye surgeries at 1 and 3yo, so vision care has been going on for quite some time...). The adjusted IQ score and other test results caused the psychologist to label him as "Borderline Intellectual Functioning", with the lowest areas of performance being in working memory, processing speed, and visual processing. Unfortunately, I did not find any of the recommendations in the report overly helpful. They were fairly vague and seemed to be, more or less, common sense explanations of the skill in view. This has caused some struggle as I'm trying to come up with concrete guidelines for accommodations (other than "needs more time").

      2. The math homework is usually "Side B" of the worksheet from that day. The part that is always slow and hard, thought, is the math facts section. There are also lots of math fact drills in the classroom. I will look for other ways to practice this at home, like you mentioned. Our school doesn't have class scheduling where different grades are meeting for math at the same time, so I'm not sure that putting him in the 1st grade class for math is an option. As far as other curricula that might foster easier practice for him, do you have suggestions?

      3. I'm thinking the copywork is something different than the memory verses. He did really well with the Simply Classical copybook when we homeschooled last semester. Perhaps I could ask if we can do that instead. I'm honestly not sure how the school is going to respond when, at the end of the day, I'm asking to replace most of his 2nd grade curriculum. Do you have advice on how to pursue that? Is this something done in other classical schools? Sometimes offering precedent has helped pave the way for some of my requests.

      4. I will definitely plan to continue schooling through the summer (with some breaks). He does not do well with large breaks in practice.

      I have one further question: One thing that seems unclear in the school's policies and in my mind is whether or not I am expected to "catch up" to the 2nd grade standards with my son, or whether he's just expected to demonstrate progress. How do you deal with that in a school that has letter grades, assessment tests, etc..? I see all kinds of improvement, and I hate the thought of the end result being "fail" just because he isn't in the same place as his peers. How do you recommend that schools evaluate students with special educational needs? How do you decide if they move to the next grade if they can't do what everyone else in the class can do?

      Thanks again for all of your comments. I am so grateful for the wisdom of others who have walked this path before me!


        You are welcome!

        For math, we appreciate R&S Arithmetic for its teaching of concepts with clear lessons and visual aids and for developing both mastery and automaticity. Consider also our Simply Classical Arithmetic Read-Aloud sets to strengthen understanding. You can take a look or order here. For all of the Arithmetic selections we offer Individual Lesson Plans by Subject. (Search at MP. Then scroll down to Special Needs.)

        Regarding the school, it sounds as if a heart-to-heart conversation is in order. Does the school have any other students who might benefit from a special half-day academic class in which Simply Classical (or other tutorial) materials could be taught? Or would you consider half-day tutoring at home in the mornings with integration in other areas in the afternoons? Or vice versa? No matter the answers to these questions, you and the school will need to make some decisions not only for this year but also for next. Solutions within Classical Christian schools are as varied as the schools themselves. Some hire a specialist or a full special education team to include therapists (OT, PT, speech & language). Others create an entirely different special program in which the student may enroll and have all academic needs met. Still others expect full integration with tutorial services only for the areas needed. You are in a unique position at this school to pave the way for others who may come along! Do whatever seems best for your son and for your family.

        Perhaps others here will have some suggestions --
        Simply Classical Arithmetic & Fine-Motor Skills Individual Lesson Plans for Simply Classical programs are also available. Level B Level C Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Levels 5 & 6
        Last edited by cherylswope; 01-17-2020, 11:20 AM.