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Where to start with older children?

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  • Momof5
    update so far...

    Just wanted to say I did go ahead and finish reading the book Simply Classical, which was very inspiring and helpful. I also ordered some of the suggestions you offered, Cheryl, and started this week, slowly, with my daughter first. We are reading one of the literature suggestions and also using the study guide. So far it is going well. I think it is just what she needs at this point and I especially love that we are working together, which is something that has not come easily lately. I will slowly add the other pieces and also start more with my son. He went back to his coop class this week (IEW writing) and I am impressed with how much he remembered from last year. He already has completed his first assignments.
    It is a real blessing to have these materials to get us started on a classical curriculum. I tend to overthink everything and get lost in the choices so I truly appreciate the suggestions.
    Thanks again!

    Leave a comment:

  • Momof5
    Thank you so very much, Cheryl! I will be reading the book more carefully and going over the suggestions.

    I had actually looked at Prima Latina a while ago and thought it might be a good starting point for them but the grade level concerned me. It is good to know it would be appropriate for them. I look forward to it as well as I have no Latin background and on the occasions when I have encountered it in church, my pronounciation is always off (I took 4 years of French in high school many years ago!). To be honest, part of my reason for going this route is that I feel my own education is truly lacking and I wish to grow in my own knowledge. I hope to learn along with them and make up for what I missed out on during my school years.

    I also think I have a series of DVDs from Great Courses where the professor dresses in costume while he lectures about American History. I had it for an older daughter who didn't like it at all and maybe my son will find it enjoyable if I can find it.
    Thanks again and if I have more questions I will check back.

    Leave a comment:

  • cherylswope

    Thank you for the helpful descriptions. You have accomplished much with these children!

    Before you look through the suggestions in Simply Classical, be sure to read Chapters 1-4. The first three chapters flow in story form, so they read easily. I think you will see many similarities between your two children and mine! After Chapters 1-3, Chapter 4 is essential before embarking on the recommendations. Many people can read Chapters 1-4 in just a few hours.

    The good news - a key principle in classical education is multum, non multa, or "much, not many." If you want to do this, you will not add countless burdensome subjects. Instead, you will streamline by delving deeply into the highest quality books. You have many options, but this is where I would start, given the good information you provided.

    Begin both children in Latin. Not only will they receive great confidence in learning a new language, but they will also learn basic building blocks of English vocabulary, English grammar, such as nouns, verbs; and sentence construction. You can teach both children together. Everything is included for you within the program. Latin boosts working memory and concentration through simple translation exercises, as children must "hold in their minds" basic Latin rules and vocabulary while manipulating the information to produce correct answers.

    For an understanding of the way Latin centralizes the curriculum, consider reading the description of The Latin-Centered Curriculum. Rather than "adding a subject," you will be streamlining Language Arts instruction!

    Latin is the original all-in-one classical language arts course. Your children can even learn beautiful prayers and songs in Latin! Select the easiest level, Prima Latina, often taught to 7 and 8 year olds, so this will not be too difficult for them or for you. You will want the Prima Latina CD for audio review at home or on your way to co-op this semester.

    You can customize other elements individually, based on their own strengths and weaknesses. You can do this without adding undue burdens of time or effort. Let's begin with your son.

    Age 15
    I.Q. 71
    Dysgraphia, dyscalculia, probable dyslexia
    Poor processing, working memory, fine-motor skills

    Reads at a 6th-grade level, but prefers audio books to actual reading
    Enjoys Tolkien & C.S. Lewis
    Loves drama, Jim Weiss recordings
    Has had limited classical studies
    Performs math at 6th grade level with some gaps & difficulties
    Enjoys American history
    Writing – IEW in a co-op with much help from home
    Enjoys acting, has experience in small roles

    KEY - use his interests to explore more fully and learn more deeply, all within a classical education.

    Add Classical Elements for Beauty, Interest and Enrichment - consider any of these:

    Greek Myths – Simply assign the myths this semester. He will love the illustrations and stories in this collection. Consider working through the study guide orally, perhaps next semester, after he reads all of the myths.

    Expand his literature studies, comprehension, and writing skills within the genre he enjoys. Literature can become the window through which he enjoys a classical education!

    Chronicles of Narnia with study guide
    (this semester)
    A Wrinkle in Time (next semester)

    Astronomy book (this year) with …
    C.S. Lewis Space Trilogy (library, used bookstore, or find copies online - I bought this as a set for my son several years ago. He highly recommends it!)

    American History – Great Courses - consider a high school history course taught by the drama teacher – or an American history course on audio CD

    Math & Writing
    For this semester, continue with your current plans. The added Latin and literature, along with the IEW co-op class (with much behind-the-scenes help from you) will be an ample writing program this semester.

    Encourage this! At 15, he will benefit in many ways from healthy outside-the-home involvement. If he has dramatic literary options, such as Shakespeare, all the better. Small roles are perfect for him, given his slow working memory and slow processing. A few lines are plenty to remember! Through rehearsals and performances, he gains confidence even as he learns to practice, cooperate, and serve the community.

    Meet Jim Weiss
    If he has not yet met Jim Weiss, a very approachable person, strongly consider a trip to one of the many conventions Jim Weiss appears. For my children, meeting their own heroes (historians, poets) has provided great impact, as they transition from childhood to adulthood.

    Developmentally delayed
    Slow working memory, sensory issues
    Does not like to read, but reads ~4th grade level
    Reading – difficulties with fluency and comprehensions, prefers younger content
    Math – 4th grade Teaching Textbooks with Dreambox
    Math - difficulties with time but likes structure, lists
    Writing – difficulties, especially with punctuation
    Loves art & drawing

    Teach Prima Latina with your son and daughter together.

    Reading, Writing, Liteture
    Boost her reading and writing skills through literature she will enjoy (2nd grade level) – with guides. The guides explain how to model sentence construction, punctuation, and copywork within the context of literature.

    Do not worry that they indicate "2nd grade." She does not need to know this. Everything in Memoria Press is advanced, because many children thrive with the challenge. Our children cannot progress at such a pace, but they benefit from the beautiful books within Memoria Press because the books are never childish or cartoon-ish, even at lower levels. This allows us to dip into the lower levels to find materials!

    Your daughter struggles with fluency and comprehension. Her preference for younger children's books is not surprising. You can use this to your advantage, because her writing skills will match the level in those literature guides. The literature guides will also become your writing program.

    If you would like, you can strengthen her grammar and writing skills through copywork. You can even do this with the Prima Latina Copybook, so she reviews Latin, handwriting, spelling, and vocabulary all at once.
    Teach her cursive, if she does not yet know cursive. Tell her that good penmanship assists her artwork!

    Note - if you still wanted to add a formal writing program, you could consider using WWE 1 or 2, if you have one of these levels. WWE 1 works on simple sentences. WWE 2 presents two sentences at a time, commas in a series, and other punctuation challenges. (WWE 3-4 might be too high.) However, if you follow the instructions with Latin & the literature guides, you would not need this.

    Math – continue, if you like the program
    Give her supports for learning time. Introduce a brief daily “calendar time” for her. Practice saying the days of the week and months of the year in recitation form every day. Give her a large wall calendar, preferably with beautiful artwork or drawings to encourage her art. Have her cross off each day as it occurs. Over time, she may internalize time and order, even as she enjoys the beauty of the artwork.

    She likes checklists and schedules, so consider writing the date and schedule on a white board every morning. We do this every day to orient the children, even though mine are 19. I do this vertically with a daily schedule and horizontally with a schedule for the week.

    Your daughter enjoys drawing and appreciates art. This will be an excellent avenue for leading her toward truth, goodness, and beauty.
    Consider the Art Cards. These can be taught similar to flashcards, or you can simply provide them for the contemplation and enjoyment of art. Modeling and imitation are keys of a classical education, so with a sketchbook, she might enjoy creating her own copies from the models.

    If you have time and want to explore these Art Cards with lesson plans, consider the excellent Enrichment Guides. Even the First Grade Enrichment would provide many of the elements you wish you would have included previously. It is never too late! See the samples through the link.

    You can provide regular visits to an art gallery or museum with a sketchpad. (Steer her toward the truly beautiful classical period art and sculpture or the Renaissance and sacred art.)

    You are doing a great work by desiring a purposeful shift in your older children's education. You can look through the many possibilities on the Memoria Press website. I hope these suggestions help!

    Feel free to follow up -


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

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  • Momof5

    thank you for getting back to my post so quickly. Below I will try to fill you in on my two children. Both have had neuropsychological evaluations at least twice over the years, both have always been homeschooled, both adopted as infants. I hope this is enough information and that I didn't forget anything!

    Son, age 15, ADHD, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, possibly dyslexia but due to low IQ score (around 71) they could not determine if he qualifies for that diagnosis. Also has slow processing, slow working memory, fine motor has always been an issue in spite of a few rounds of OT. He doesn't enjoy reading (probably reads at about a 6th grade level) but has liked listening to audio tapes, he especially likes Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Chronicles of Narnia, Jim Weiss cds, things of that genre. He is a huge Star Wars fan. Seems to understand what he hears on audio way better than if he reads it. He is developing a real love for American History. He has taken an IEW beginning course from a good teacher at a coop and will continue to the next level this fall. I have to provide a lot of support for that especially with organizing daily work to complete assignments, sometimes scribing for him due to the dysgraphia although he is able to keyboard. He is working on 6th grade Teaching Textbooks for math, still struggles with steps in figuring out multi-step math problems, has not memorized all of his math facts. He loves anything where he can act out something, has been in a couple of plays with minimal lines.

    Daughter, age 13, PDD-NOS, generalized anxiety disorder, developmentally delayed, slow working memory, had sensory issues majorly when younger (still does to an extent) and received a lot of OT. She also doesn't like to read, reads at about a 4th grade level but prefers much younger themed books, has some fluency and comprehension issues. Loves art, drawing especially and is quite good at it, prefers drawing animals. In math she is at about a 4th grade level, still working on memorizing math facts, also uses TT4, and an online program called Dreambox. She understands money and counts it but time is still difficult for her to comprehend. Gets confused with what day of the week it is, likes structure, checklists, that kind of thing. Writing formally has been difficult for her, especially remembering punctuation. She will write stories when the mood strikes her but it has to be her idea (she is quite stubborn, unfortunately!) I had purchased one of the WWE books last year but we never actually got to using it. Sometimes she uses words incorrectly (she had years of speech therapy, too).

    I do have your book, actually have had it for a while but doubted myself that any of this would be possible for my kids. I am going through it now.
    Thank you!

    Leave a comment:

  • cherylswope
    Yes, this is possible! Welcome.

    If you have not yet read Simply Classical, I would recommend starting there. We include an especially thorough list of good books for special-needs teens with a reading level (or read-aloud level) between 4th-8th.

    The book addresses the heart of your comment:
    "It seems over the years we have spent so much time on remediation and other therapies that we have never really gotten to explore more of what classical education offers or at least some of the beautiful aspects of that type of education."

    Exactly. In special education, we often focus so intently on "special" that we forget "education!"

    Feel free to send more detailed descriptions of each child with age, diagnoses, levels of academic performance, strengths, and weaknesses. We can attempt to match each child with suitable resources for you.


    Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child

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

    Leave a comment:

  • Momof5
    started a topic Where to start with older children?

    Where to start with older children?

    I am wondering where to start with older children with various learning disabilities (possible dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, slow working memory and slow processing) and diagnoses (one ADHD, other high functioning autism, both in early teens). It seems over the years we have spent so much time on remediation and other therapies that we have never really gotten to explore more of what classical education offers or at least some of the beautiful aspects of that type of education. Everything I have read seems to assume one is beginning with a young child but I need ideas of how to start with older ones who haven't had those building blocks, so to speak. Or is this even possible?
    Thank you.