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Simply Classical

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    Simply Classical

    First let me say thank you. I just finished reading Simply Classical. I just felt like a dear friend sat down to tea with me and gave me hope for my children's education. you must speak at homeschool conventions. I have five children that I am homeschooling, two of which have intellectual disabilities. I always thought a classical education was out of their reach. My one daughter has an IQ of 46. She is at the reading level of the Childhood of Famous Americans. At what age group list should I start following your curriculum suggestions? You mentioned that Memoria Press was going to come out with a special needs package is this soon coming? if not what grade level set of lesson plans would you suggest? My daughters are 16 and 12. Thanks for any help you can give. Susan

    Dear Susan,

    Your words express precisely my hope for the book! Thank you so much. Addressing some of the items in your post, one at a time ...

    Homeschool conventions
    -- Thank you for this. I will be speaking in various venues next year, see in upcoming weeks for details. However, I will already encourage you to consider attending the Memoria Press conference in June, 2014.

    This summer the Memoria Press conference offered hands-on, curriculum-based sessions for classical education with special needs. We enjoyed four separate workshops, such as Latin/History with Special Needs, Writing/Reading/Literature with Special Needs, and more. Whether 2 or 20 attended, we addressed specific questions and sought individualized strategies for very different situations. These were surprisingly intimate and helpful for all of us, because families and schools shared very personal stories, and we all brainstormed until we reached (or at least approximated) solutions.

    Like mini-support groups at times, we often continued discussions into mealtimes and over breaks. (At times, such as in the hallway, they did feel like quiet talks over tea!) I do not know of any other classical education conference where such experiences are offered so warmly and generously to those who attend.

    Curriculum suggestions – I'm curious whether a version of the WISC or some other measure helped determine your daughter's IQ of 46. If you do not mind sharing, please also indicate any relative strengths that emerged in the testing.

    You described her reading level as sufficient for reading Childhood of Famous Americans. I'm assuming this is her own oral or private reading, and not a read-aloud comprehension level? If so, see page 213 of your book. This would appear to be the level at which she could receive instruction in each content area. For read-alouds, you might also want to consider the literature list on p. 164 (not 158-159 as indicated) in Chapter 7, or even the comprehensive “living book” list on pp. 221-226.

    If you have any questions about this, or if this does not seem compatible with her abilities, just say so. Always somewhat difficult to determine over a forum. [For anyone else reading who does not have the book, my apologies. My own daughter is having some medical issues today, so time does not permit better descriptions. But I know Susan has a copy of the book, so she will know what I am suggesting!]

    Another recommendation for you would be Harp and Laurel Wreath, by Laura Berquist. I love this book. For your daughter, see the “Early Years” section. The poetry selections are simple but lovely and engaging.

    Curriculum package – We do not have a definite date for completion, as we are hard at work right now on another printing of Simply Classical. Rest assured, the special-needs curriculum pacakges are next! For now, use the guidelines and curriculum recommendations in the book. If you are new to Memoria Press resources, you may wish to place your daughter at either her appropriate skill level, or perhaps one level lower than she might do independently (perhaps 2nd grade, for your daughter?), and adapt from there. Some suggestions for this, modified somewhat from :

    First, select “clean,” visually uncluttered, beautiful books with a clear, step-by-step progression. Then make the following modifications:

    Slow the pace

    Increase the student’s understanding through simple Socratic questioning

    Reduce the amount of material presented in each lesson

    Provide more review of the content

    Eliminate some of the required writing; allow oral answers

    When a student needs additional help in any given area of study, utilize the curriculum’s available supplements, such as flash cards, charts, worksheets, and DVD’s.

    Aesop: “Slow & steady….”

    Thanks again--

    Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child
    Cheryl Swope, M.Ed., with Foreword by Dr. Gene Edward Veith


      Simply Classical

      Thanks so much for your quick reply. I have two girls with cognitive issues. Julie age 12 with a full scale IQ of 48. Verbal comprehension 63, perceptual reasoning 49, working memory 50, and processing speed 70. She has just learned to read and is doing Christian Light 2nd grade math. Grace, age 16 has a total achievement score of 50 from the Wechsler Individual Achievement test. On the Stanford Binet she received a full scale IQ of 42. She received a diagnosis of moderate mental retardation. Grace's testing is from a local hospital and Julie's is from the school district. Both girls attend a tutoring center for reading and math help. I was told by the psychologist that Grace does very well with Spelling. Grace is very visual. I am trying to do more auditory things with her and cut back screen time. Both girls have visual strengths, but do not enjoy being read to. Another thing Grace really enjoys writing. She is learning to write a paragraph and desires to learn to write an essay. Any suggestions for that? I so appreciate your help. I feel as if I have been walking in the dark with these girls. BTW, Grace loves school and works very hard at it. Julie is not a lover of school and is very hands on. I would love to attend the conference and meet you, perhaps next summer. Thanks, Susan


        (I think I have figured out how to work the new forum. Created by someone with young eyes as evidenced by the tiny font, the new forum helps the rest of us by retaining similar features!)


        Congratulations on Julie's blossoming reading and on Grace's love of writing! This is so encouraging to hear. Both girls' visual strengths will assist them quite a bit.

        Good idea to reduce screen time. Given their visual strengths, perhaps you might consider copybooks, drawing, or reading independently (with incentives?) as helpful substitutes for their leisure time. Small opportunities for service, given their ages, will be something else to consider for their leisure hours.

        As for writing an essay, we do hope to begin an Essay Writing thread on this forum soon. It seems we may currently have a gap of gradually sequenced resources between writing sentences, writing paragraphs, and writing essays. This will be something we will want to address within the special-needs curriculum package. In the meantime, others on this forum may have suggestions for you. We have several families here with years of experience.

        Does Grace enjoy fiction? If she does, she might enjoy embarking on the Memoria Press “Introduction to Composition” workbook. Paired with selections from children's literature, such as Charlotte's Web, “Introduction to Composition” combines a love of reading and writing. The program provides opportunity for narration and dictation, three sentences at a time per lesson. If Grace is above this level, given Julie's relative strengths in both Verbal Comprehension and Processing Speed, Julie might very much enjoy this literature-based writing program when she is ready for it. Before this, the very early MP Literature Guides would seem to be a wonderful fit for Julie as she begins reading and writing a little more competently. Your more “bookish” Grace might also enjoy MP's Copybook exercises or the NAC Cursive books, which offer writing practice through imitation of beautiful writing and content.

        Regardless of the curricula you choose, I do think you would enjoy the conference next year, because there are so many of us doing just what you are doing. This year we met a mom whose teenage son has both Down Syndrome and autism. Often it seems that just hearing others' stories and challenges offers encouragement and ideas for our own children.

        If any questions remain, or if this sparked new thoughts, feel free to post. We do have quite a few moms here for help and support.

        Blessings to you--


          Simply Classical

          Thanks for the suggestions. Do you think I should not order a complete package of say 2nd grade from MP and just pick and choose some of your suggested resources? Thanks again for all your help, Susan


            Hi, Susan.

            I did not realize you were considering a complete package at one level. (This is one limitation of online discussion compared with that nice cup of tea!) Yes, of course, if your daughters' abilities seem relatively consistent across subject areas, a package might be ideal for you. The lesson plans are so intentionally integrated, your girls' learning will be greatly assisted by using all of the materials provided together in one place.

            If you order and implement an entire curriculum package, I would be very interested to hear how it goes for you. As you teach your daughters from any Memoria Press materials, if you find areas that need to be tweaked for special-needs children, please post them on the New Curriculum Package thread. We are receiving very helpful tips there.



              Simply Classical

              I am very new to Memoria Press Materials. My children have been involved with Classical Conversations for many years, mostly for my oldest son and younger girls. The MP materials seem very uncluttered, which is what my girls need. I am rereading your book and looking over your suggestions for this coming year. In your book you suggest Shurley Grammar. Is this difficult to use for children with low IQ like mine? Is there a better suggestion for grammar, learning parts of speech, etc? I am going to order Prima Latina. I am so excited to start this journey with my girls. Classical Conversations materials are so advanced that I did think I would be able to classically educate Julie and Grace. Also, could you give more details about the summer conference. Is that just for adults? How long does it last? How expensive. You have been a blessing to me. Thanks for your time and your story. Thank your children for sharing their story, Susan



                Yes, we appreciate Memoria Press materials for the very same reasons: simplicity, order, beauty, and an uncluttered presentation!

                I believe that in Simply Classical I noted we used Shurley Grammar, but this was partly because so little was available at the time. If I could do it over, I would design a curriculum from one publisher, as much as possible. In the end, it costs less than trial-and-error, lesson plans coordinate better, and fewer gaps in learning occur.

                It might be good to call the MP office. The customer service is well-known for their knowledge and responsiveness. They can tell you which early grammar resources coordinate well with Prima Latina. Others on this forum might know too. I'm still learning what is available, as MP is quite a hub of creative productivity!

                As for the conference, it costs about $150 and lasts Wed eve through late Friday afternoon. In addition to the numerous special-needs workshops, you'll enjoy some free MP resources at the levels you teach, inspiring plenary sessions on classical education theory, break-out sessions with practical teaching strategies, conversations with like-minded homeschoolers, and good food! Yes, only for adults, but it becomes a refreshing get-away.

                Thank you for your kind words. I will tell my children. My daughter will likely ask when she can meet Grace and Julie. And if they like dolls.



                  Simply Classical

                  How sweet! They love dolls. We will do what we can to attend. Blessings!!