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new to Memoria Press and need help choosing materials for my boys

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    new to Memoria Press and need help choosing materials for my boys

    I read Simply Classical by Cheryl Swope and was greatly encouraged. It has changed my way of thinking on how to educate my struggling boys, and in a way, given me a sense of freedom on what I teach.

    My 16 year old is in his second year of high school. He was tested at 5 and found to have sensory integration disorder with possible autism. I have also found over the years that he has great difficulty in reading comprehension, drawing conclusions, and memory retention. When he puts his mind to memorizing something, he does great, but when it comes to recalling previously learned English rules or math facts, it is like he never learned them. His reading ability is at or just below age level, but I'm guessing his comprehension level is somewhere in the middle school level? Also, writing a paragraph is his biggest difficulty (and aggravation), and after reading Simply Classical, I realized we need to re-do the ground work, but I don't know where to start. We are doing Latin for his foreign language through Visual Latin, and he is enjoying it. Are there any suggestions for what I can do to help him get the most out of the rest of high school, especially writing? He has struggled with school for so many years, and it is my hope that he might come to enjoy learning.

    My 11 year old has autism. His speech has improved over the years to where he now occasionally says a complete sentence. He does get angry easily and starts yelling, and it can be hard to get him to cooperate when he doesn't want to do something. I have tried to teach him off and on over the years and have had some success. Amazingly, much of what he knows he has taught himself through the computer and books (although he doesn't like being asked to read or being read to very much). His attention span is very short, and anything I have him do he speeds through it just to get done. I was despairing that he would have any kind of decent education and had fallen into the trap of thinking that we would only be able to teach "basic living" skills until I read Simply Classical. Thank you so much Cheryl for opening my eyes! I would guess that his reading comprehension is around the 2nd grade level, and math is most likely at 1st grade? as he can only add numbers between 1-10. He shows no interest in science or history. I looked at the special needs curriculum packages and believe that he is above all the levels offered. Any suggestions?

    Thank you so much for any help you can give.

    I read Simply Classical by Cheryl Swope and was greatly encouraged. It has changed my way of thinking on how to educate my struggling boys, and in a way, given me a sense of freedom on what I teach.

    Thank you, Cari. Welcome!

    Let's start with your younger son. At 11, he is described in this way:

    -low frustration tolerance
    -limited oral language (speaks in a complete sentence only occasionally)
    -short attention span; hurries through work, even when compliant
    -has absorbed some information through computer and books, especially when these have not been overtly assigned
    -math and reading ~1st/2nd grade levels (estimated)

    When was his most recent evaluation?

    A good, current assessment of both cognitive (i.e., intelligence or I.Q.) and academic strengths would be very helpful in helping you create a long-term plan for him. You might even ask your pediatrician about whether a neurology evaluation or behavioral assessment would be appropriate for assessing options to improve compliance and ease frustration. Fwiw, we found an evaluation of my son extremely helpful at age 11 when aggression, noncompliance, and even mood issues overpowered his ability to learn well. The subsequent treatments eventually restored our ability to educate him.

    In the meantime, you mentioned that your son does not enjoy read-alouds, nor does he seem interested in history or science right now. Perhaps he would enjoy listening to beautiful music or learning about art (visually)? If you begin with such enriching endeavors to reach the other areas, this might help.

    Given his difficulties with attending and cooperating, I would not attempt an entire classical core curriculum at this time. However, you might select some individual components for him. See what you think about the earliest Memoria Press Enrichment Guide. You could modify in these ways:

    -Establish a set, brief time for school each day. If possible, select the time of day when he usually seems most attentive and cooperative.
    -Reverse the daily lesson plans to begin with music and art.
    -Do only the music and art for a few days. Then declare the school period finished for the day. Reward his compliance with a favorite activity. Consider linking this (e.g., computer?) to cooperative school time.
    -Then introduce only a few of the oral language items, without overloading him.
    -Finally, lead into the accompanying book.

    Even if it takes all week to progress through just a handful of the suggested lesson plans, this structured sampling might provide both of you with some predictability and order, as you find a good working pace for learning. A good routine might result in better compliance. Music, art, and new teaching topics would elevate your instruction far beyond daily living skills! If presented gradually, this might even become a welcome, shared time in the day. Enrichment Guides integrate the studies for you, so he would receive many "subjects" all at once.

    You would also need to include some arithmetic. Rod & Staff 1 might suit him well. This would give him step-by-step practice for mastery. You could even teach this at another time in the day, perhaps after lunch. The more routine, the better. Daily brief, successful arithmetic exercises might also serve to provide some stability to his mind. This is just a starting place, until he receives a thorough assessment to update his diagnoses and evaluate his abilities!

    As for your older son:

    -16 years old
    -tested at age 5 as having sensory integration disorder with possible autism

    Was the assessment at age 5 his most recent?

    If yes, he might also benefit from a thorough cognitive and academic evaluation. While an overall "I.Q." can sometimes be of limited practical value, the individual subtests of an intelligence test can provide many helpful clues into a child's real strengths.

    Not only can such an evaluation become important for matching his strengths to his best future volunteer or work possibilities, but the results can also help him obtain necessary services for college or various alternative programs. A good interpretation of subtests can even assist you in finding effective ways to teach him right now.

    Another question - what are his special interests? You mentioned that he memorizes well when the topic interests him. Now that he is 16, his interests can be key to your success with him.

    You gave this description:

    -he studies and enjoys Latin
    -he reads at or near age level
    -he comprehends somewhat below age level
    -he has significant difficulties writing a paragraph
    -you want to help him transition from academic struggles to an enjoyment of learning

    Congratulations on his reading ability! At this time, writing seems to be your primary concern.

    Here are some options. You might want to tackle these resources simultaneously, given the need to boost his writing efficiently:

    1. English Grammar Recitation with English Grammar Recitation Workbook One This could solidify those grammar rules, so he recovers some basic tools of writing.

    2. Trojan War (you can purchase this individually or obtain from the library) and Trojan War Set - See what you think of this. I selected it for you, because this literature guide would give your son all of these elements in one course of study:

    -ample practice in writing sentences (the essential precursor to writing paragraphs)
    -very masculine reading, suitable for his age
    -stronger reading comprehension skills
    -an introduction to classical studies

    If you started here, along with a good math program, this could boost his education while you pursue specific guidance from an in-depth evaluation.

    Just an aside, speaking as a mom of older special-needs teens: a thorough medical, neurological, cognitive, and academic evaluation before age 17 can make everything (paperwork, placement, support, and even guardianship, if needed) much easier for you and for him after 18!

    I hope some of this helps.


    Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child


      Thank you so much for your help, Cheryl. It has given me a great place to start. I will look into testing both boys. I know I probably should have done it a long time ago, but the whole process seemed intimidating and overwhelming (not a good excuse, I know). I guess I thought we could figure it out ourselves, but I can see the value in knowing more specific things.

      Again thank you,