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Pace and Content?

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    Pace and Content?

    For those teaching lower-level MP curriculum packages with their special-needs children, how is this working for you?

    --Do you need to adapt either the pace or the content?

    If so, do you need to adapt every subject every day?

    --Have any of the lesson plans matched perfectly with your child's abilities so far?

    If so, which subject areas and lesson plans suit your child well?

    Any other observations so far?

    (Your input will be very helpful in designing the new special-needs curriculum packages!)


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


    I typed a long reply which did not auto save and did not post.
    Will try again tomorrow.
    Must remember cutting pages in strips.
    DD 23 College grad, married, employed.
    DS 20 Autistic, beautiful, unemployable.
    DS 17 HS grad. Twelve years of MP. Hopes to be a chess-playing priest.
    DS 15 Teaching me to give up the reins. Does MP work when not in ballet classes, at rehearsals, stretching or playing chess.
    DD 13 Nine years of MP. Chess player, marksman, WSJ fan.
    DS 10 Six years of MP. Chess player, ballet dancer, archer.
    DD 8 Four years of MP. Chess player, occasional dancer. Actually gets to write in the Student Guides.


      Originally posted by SaintJude7 View Post
      I typed a long reply which did not auto save and did not post.
      Will try again tomorrow.
      Must remember cutting pages in strips.


      I can empathize, because this has happened to me several times too. As you know, my posts can be long, so I needed to do something different!

      My husband taught me to "Control C" (copy) the content before previewing or posting. I can either "hold" it in Control C or place it in an untitled file. Even if I delete the file after posting, I have the content in case the forum times out.

      Then I "Control V" (paste) the file onto the writing space after logging in again. You may have other tricks that work better in your own program, but this has saved many "arrgh" moments here!

      I am very much looking forward to your thoughts and observations so far, when time permits another attempt.

      We're hard at work on the new curriculum packages, and I know your feedback will be helpful.


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


        This year we're doing Kindergarten

        At age 5 we're not ready for FSR and the writing/copywork passages. We're using HWT to build up her writing skills. I don't use the whole program and her skills have progressed with age but she does best with the grey square paper that is part of the program (each letter is practiced within a light grey square which gives them a better idea of where to keep the letter contained). We are doing some copy work by tracing but working through the Kindergarten level HWT workbook.

        In general, the memory passages aren't even on the radar yet (with the exception of a morning prayer and the pledge of allegiance). However with recitation she's doing pretty well since I now show her the flashcard with the answer until she can answer without looking at the card (she can't actually read the ones with words but she seems to be able to answer anyway, maybe she's recognizing the general layout of the card or the first letter). We started this method last year and it's still working well.

        She's flying through the math. We're already in week three of lessons at the start of our second week of school. This is either aptitude or shows how well the JK curriculum prepared her. The reading comprehension questions are still a struggle but she's doing better. She (or maybe it's just me) doesn't get the art cards but loves the music. The science and social studies are sometimes beyond us but sometimes right on. For those I seem to need more background or direction than she does. Honestly a supply list would be great!

        During JK last year:

        We had great trouble with the reading comprehension questions: a guide for how to help them get the answer might be helpful (for us, I would reread the sentence with the answer. we're still working on processing this sort of info). Maybe this skill could be practiced on simpler concepts/sentences first before expecting it of whole stories. The recitation was very difficult until I found songs for some of the longer answers (like months or days of the week) and started using flashcards for her to see. The writing was very difficult as well. I ended up adding HWT toward the end of the year. She loved the math but towards the end of Inside and Outside she wasn't able to do the fine motor work or the fine detail processing type of pages. The book eventually was not really anything to do with math so we just stopped that one and worked with objects for counting and basic addition and subtraction concepts.

        Adding scissor skills (below the level need for the crafts in the craft book) would be good too. Continuing this skill work in Kindergarten would be helpful. Even if it's just including the Kumon cutting book in the package.

        I hope that wasn't too rambly thanks for working to make this accessible to other kids!


          What I see for later is I will need to break the work of one day up to more than one day aka slow down the pace. For example, there is no way G can do all the work required in the regular 3rd grade for one day. He would meltdown. This makes the plans more of a guide than a daily plan as written. Doing a little everyday in 10-15 minute spurts per subject works better to keep frustration low. Perhaps stretching the plans out to 36 weeks might help? I may also have to drop a lit book study guide or some other subject's chapters with the study guide to accommodate the slower pace. So read chapter 1 and do workbook, read chap 2, discuss only. I have not decided yet. I am really needing some help with that. I don't want the boys to miss anything but I also do not crying.

          As far as K-2 went/goes, I really felt we needed more phonics reinforcement/teaching before jumping into STS/MST in 1st. Maybe add some additional Expode the Code work and/or Primary Phonics or something like that? I think I said before that for us, SRA did not have enough practice. I feel there also needs to be more review or some guidence/booklist given to transition from the end of K reading to the beginning of 1st. Perhaps the Highland Latin School Summer Reading List already fills this gap and could be printed into the appendix for each grade?

          For reading comprehension, how about just asking fewer questions alongside a short narration or copywork?

          Math was spot on as far as age appropriate for my guys. I did add the speed drills UNTIMED because they needed the extra reinforcement. The 1st grade flashcards were also a huge help for memorizing the facts and other concepts.

          I love the idea of having the recitation on flashcards. Even if the child does not read, it is a visual reminder.

          We loved all the read alouds.

          I agree cutting and pasting would be welcomed.

          For us, the more integrated the subjects, the better. When things are too separate, the kids forget and cannot apply cross subjects. I hope that makes sense. I am very tired.
          Last edited by Enigma; 09-07-2013, 12:08 AM.
          The Homeschool Grads:
          J- 6/96
          S- 11/98

          Still Homeschooling:
          G- 4/04
          D- 5/05
          F- 7/08 (my only girl)

          Future Homeschooler:
          M- 9/16


            My special needs son (ASD) has just turned six. We are working through kindergarten. The pace for reading has been perfect so far except that I have switched around the lessons a bit to break up the writing. For example, if FSR and SRA both have letter practice I'll have him color his animal book instead and save SRA for a day with less writing scheduled. We are a bit ahead in math. We are way behind in handwriting. We're still just practicing the alphabet strokes at the beginning of the book and haven't done any of the memory work. He has done fine memorizing the morning prayer and poetry though. All the enrichment activities have been fine and I've just done the writing for him when it is required since he is usually DONE with writing by the time we get to it. We do reading and math, take a break for a snack and some OT work and then finish up with handwriting and enrichment.


              MP Resources

              Thanks for all of the replies so far. Still hoping to hear from Susan and Jude when they find time to write amidst their own homeschooling!

              In the meantime, I had an idea while I was planning the rest of the school week for my own children this evening. If you have created a mixed curriculum for your child from Memoria Press resources as we have done, rather than purchase an entire curriculum package at a lower level, your input will also be helpful. For children with highly scattered abilities, the option for such individualized programs may become beneficial.

              For example, my daughter Michelle currently enjoys these wonderful resources each week:

              --Mathematics: MP Rod & Staff Math 3
              --Latin: MP First Form
              --Literature: MP Treasure Island study guide with Treasure Island & Stevenson's Kidnapped
              --Poetry: MP Poetry for the Grammar Stage (she loves this!)
              --History and Civics: MP ISI U.S. History, American Political Thought
              --Music: [Piano lessons and Voice lessons with music theory], MP ISI Music History
              --Science: MP ISI Natural Science
              --Composition: Writing With Ease 3 (she finished MP Intro to Composition - we needed another transitional writing program before Classical Composition - she has completed WWE 1 and 2 and loves this series)
              --Christian Studies: MP Christian Studies I

              Is anyone else here doing something similar for their special-needs or struggling children -- selecting Memoria Press (and other) materials in a very individualized manner?

              Any input would be helpful, as we endeavor to produce a strong set of pre-arranged packages for children with special learning needs.

              Finally, as an aside - a prayer request for my daughter:

              We just learned today that at least for the next few months she will need medications 7 times a day for new medical conditions that have emerged simultaneously. All must be timed to coordinate with (or without) food. Seven times a day, with twice-weekly blood work. A little daunting, but I'm very thankful for homeschooling and the opportunity to meet both her academic and medical needs in the comfort of her home.

              Thank you-

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



                Now that we are further along in the school year, how are the curriculum packages and lesson plans working for you?

                Are math lessons still proceeding on schedule for you and your children?

                Do you have any additional observations, suggestions or requests for the special-needs packages?

                Thanks for all of the helpful input so far.


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


                  Pace and Content?

                  This year is going well with MP grade 2 for my two mentally retarded girls. Their favorite is Latin, they really have taken to it. The hardest part is Spelling, especially for Grace. The SRA book is hard for them. They do not really learn the words by the end of the week. It is a very enjoyable program, but time consuming for us. It takes me nearly three hours to get through it all. I am homeschooling five children so the time management makes it tough. I would like to switch them all over, but hesitate because I am not sure how I would fit it all in. I hope this helps.

                  Cheryl, on another note: Did you ever experience problems with your children being made fun of at church, laughed at, or not included. I have never told my girls that they are mentally retarded, but that they struggle with learning and have to work harder. Now Grace refers to herself as retarded and says the kids at church call her that. Any suggestions?

                  I am really hoping to attend the conference in the summer and get to meet you. You have blessed me!!



                    Thank you, Susan. I'm so happy to hear that your girls are enjoying Latin! Three hours of daily homeschooling is quite a bit for you, but you are giving them such a lasting gift.

                    If all of your children can complete a little more work without assistance each year, maybe this will help. I thought mine might never work independently, but eventually they learned to tackle some subjects and homework on their own.

                    [A side note -- did you find the post called Special Needs & Essay Writing? I hope you can use or adapt this for Grace.]

                    Your feedback about spelling is very helpful. SRA is packed (overloaded?) with visual information and content. One option might be substituting word lists by the half-page or quarter-page from Classical Phonics, as you continue in SRA.

                    In our special-needs curriculum packages, we will not use SRA as is, but we will modify. We're working on this even now. Enigma suggested a substitute too. Thanks very much for this. All of the feedback is extremely important.

                    Regarding your question about other children's demeaning remarks and shunning, ... yes, we have experienced this too. Rare children show my daughter not only compassion but also companionship. We are very thankful for such children.

                    However, like yours, my children endure social challenges that rival their physical and mental difficulties. I do not think we can ever appreciate how challenging everything is for them. Just this morning, while cleaning up Michelle's overnight accidents and recounting her overnight difficulties in other ways, I said quietly to my husband, "As hard as this is for us, it is far more difficult to be her than it is to love her."

                    You might consider suggesting a Sunday School in-service on differences. We found this helpful in Michael's scout troop when the leader invited someone from an autism center to give a presentation.

                    If not in a formal session, sometimes an informal conversation can be educational and effective. In our summer Bible school one week, I pulled aside several girls. With tears in my eyes, I explained that Michelle needed their kindness. They softened.

                    Other times, simply offering support to your own children might be all you can do. Remind your girls of all the ways they are appreciated at home and by other people in their lives.

                    In case you did not read this story under the post New Poem - Old Man, I'm re-posting an edited portion here:

                    My daughter Michelle -- with autism, a tested I.Q. of 75, schizophrenia, and assorted medical conditions -- often finds herself isolated even in homeschool groups. This happened last week at our Thursday homeschool swim session. Usually she plays happily with two girls who have known her for years, but things changed yesterday. A new girl arrived. Michelle's friends played with the new girl and shunned Michelle. This stung.

                    I attempted to console her, distract her and even become a companion for her myself, all to no avail. After all, such efforts do not work so well as they did when she was 6. Instead, Michelle walked around slowly in the vast pool on her own. I swam laps, keeping an eye on her.

                    Still alone, she gradually grew more placid and her face more hopeful. "Begging your pardon," she said, "I have a poem brimming in my mind that I need to bring to paper." She removed herself from the pool to find a pen. With some editing for clarity and form, this is what she wrote.

                    Old Man

                    See yon man, bowed and bent.
                    See Him laid, yon crucifix.
                    Pipes are played, a hymn is sung,
                    Now that hour is sundown.

                    Wine in cup, and blood on tree,
                    Hunger for the rosary.
                    What Christ has done for you, for me,
                    Pains He shed, bread borne for thee.

                    The old man bowed under the Law,
                    Born under cross and curse.
                    But this Man who knew no sin
                    Knew the pain, strikes and marks sin would bring.

                    Justice came and paid the cost,
                    For those He came; He saved us all.
                    He did what justice demanded,
                    All paid for our release!

                    This Man's body broken by sin,
                    Broken by judgment we stand chagrined
                    (to bear upon ourselves yet groaning,
                    to beg for God's tender mercy).
                    The lash He suffered once for all
                    and to His Father obeyed His call.
                    Judgment exchanged for Peace.

                    This old man lies stiff and old,
                    Soon twill be but dead and cold.
                    One day, though, it shall rise to the skies
                    In God's Banquet Hall, everlasting life.

                    by Michelle Lynn Swope

                    After typing the poem for her later that day, I watched her beam to see the comforting thoughts in print. I said, "This might never have been written, had you not been shunned by those girls. God makes good things come from bad." She smiled and clapped her hands.

                    We can watch for small ways our children can serve other people or explore their own abilities, as this helps keep them from becoming too inwardly focused or discouraged.

                    My son has no gift for poetry, but at 6'1", he gives good hugs. He gently embraces the older ladies in our congregation every Sunday. "Just a minute, Mom. I need to give Mrs. Roth her hug." He walks around her portable oxygen tank. Yes, we can wait.

                    Blessings to your own children, especially in those trying or heartbreaking moments.


                    Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child

                    Cheryl Swope, M.Ed., with Foreword by Dr. Gene Edward Veith


                      new update

                      After running into LOTS of struggles with our Kindergarten plan, I ended up scrapping almost everything. about the only thing left from MP is the literature and story comprehension discussion questions. occasionally I remember to turn on the music selection.

                      We're still doing HWT for handwriting but have decided to fully implement it with the chalkboard and everything and she's much better now.

                      For math I think I changed at least 3 times before I found something that's working for her. I feel guilty that it's not "classical" but it's working. we started Shiller math in December and she's doing great. She had been doing well before but the leap to paper representation of what she was capable of coming up with stopped her short. She stopped being willing to answer things that I knew she could do before. Anyway, she's doing well with a concrete, hands-on, spiral approach. This is soooo different from my own thinking style but instead of slogging through mud while pushing at a brick wall, she's now happily moving along.

                      Memorization and recall is still a struggle for her. If I'm remembering one of her recent evaluations correctly, her "working memory" is poor. As an example, when asked to bring 2 numbers/tiles she can usually do that, 3 numbers/tiles-occasionally, 4 -never. She can repeat a 2-3 step pattern but higher than that and she's just guessing. It's obviously something we practice but certainly a crucial deficit in a memorization heavy curriculum. It takes a huge expenditure to just "memorize" and then not have it stick but... she can learn just not through memorization.

                      I decided to back off on phonics for awhile and get letter orientation better cemented through HWT. (current evaluation is leaning more toward dyslexia than anything and pretty much all her processing issues/methods line up with it...who knew dyslexia was more than reading???). I'll be trying phonics again in a bit, perhaps thru the local orton gillingham place.

                      We're doing MBTP for projects and hands on learning and MP literature because I like the selection. I'm hoping in the future to continue with MP for literature and history even if more of a survey than in depth. I may also be behind a year in the lit plans. I'm planning to continue with the younger kid read alouds by grade. I may turn the higher lit into read alouds for awhile. I want her exposed to the rich information but too high of frustration isn't helpful for anyone.

                      anyway, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit my curriculum choices here but my daughter is learning and progressing so I'm happy.


                        Hi, Katie.

                        Thanks for your honest update.

                        I wonder if even the constructivist (MBTP) and spiral (Shiller) approaches will become too fast-paced or otherwise unsatisfying over time. Please keep us posted.

                        I understand your dilemma with curriculum choices! In my daughter's early years, we used MCP (Modern Curriculum Press) for math. My son progressed relatively well, but my daughter's emerging dyscalculia (math learning disability), dyslexia & poor working memory caused difficulties. So I purchased the K-3 Saxon Kit. She seemed to benefit from the Saxon manipulatives; however, the odd scope & sequence (as with Shiller) and the lack of mastery inherent in the spiral approach eventually proved confusing for her.

                        Your post is helpful. For our children, we need smaller steps with more practice, better concrete and visual explanations, a lessened (but not eliminated) amount of memory work, and excellent literature ... all within the beautiful and classical understanding of learning and content. This is what we hope to accomplish with the new curriculum packages, so moms like us will not need to compromise when selecting teaching materials.

                        We know that no single curriculum will be a "perfect fit" for all of our special-needs children, but we hope to produce packages that will be a "closer fit" for children like yours and mine!

                        Thanks again. Good to hear from you --


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