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Thread: Emotional support for a struggling learner with a precocious younger sibling

  1. #1
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    Default Emotional support for a struggling learner with a precocious younger sibling

    I'm not sure if this has been addressed in this forum before, but i couldnt find any threads. Sorry if I'm being repetitive.

    I have five kids using memoria press (JrK-7). My older two are doing well at grade level. My 9 year old struggles. She is currently in week 4 of second grade. She is doing well, but she has to go much slower than the regular pace. So far this has been fine, however her little siblings are precocious learners. They are 3 and 4. Over the last few months it has become increasingly frustrating for my 9 year old that her siblings are so close to her academicly.

    Officially the little ones are doing Jr K, but they are exposed to everything their big sisters learn. If they are in the room during recitation they are able to answer everyone's questions by Wednesday. This is really hard on my 9 year old. She struggles remembering her own recitation and poems, so when her little siblings know it better than her its very disheartening.

    Right now we've simply been doing the 9 year olds work where the younger kids can't participate. It's not a good long term solution though. Next year the 4 year old will start kindergarten and she'll need to be included during school time. Im pretty sure my 9 year old will still be working through 2nd grade this fall making them 4.5 years apart, but only 2 grades.

    Has anyone else dealt with this? How do you handle It? My husband suggested putting them in different curriculums, so it would be less obvious how close they are, but I love MP too much to switch anyone unless I really have no other choice.
    DD12- 7M SFL
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    DS3- Vacillating between tagging along and wreaking havoc

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Emotional support for a struggling learner with a precocious younger sibling

    Have you looked into Simply Classical for your struggling learner? The pace is already slowed down and there are more multi-modal learning / teaching techniques incorporated right into the guide. SC3 or 4 might be a great fit.

    As far as an eager beaver learner nipping at her heels...we face this in my house. A large part of this could be that they are little sponges with no academics of their own to focus on yet. They are exposed to all of these things with no expectation of mastery...the proverbial one room school house.

    Suggestions
    Start the 4 year old in JrK right now. It's a two day a week curriculum, so she could finish it in a semester if she's really precocious. Mine did. Most importantly, it's gives her something to focus on instead of others schoolwork. She'll have her own recitation to master.

    Do not allow her to override others schoolwork. She should not be allowed to answer others recitation questions or flashcards. Shes not allowed to hop around with her hand in the air saying, "pick me pick me" either. I say this because a normal school teacher wouldn't allow only the best reader to read aloud or the quickest math fact memorizer to answer every flashcard.

    The older child needs a firm understanding that God makes us all different for a reason. We have different strengths and weaknesses. Make sure she knows her strengths and gets time to use them. This goes hand in hand with the younger children knowing not to be elitist about their academic strengths.

    My oldest took three years to complete kindergarten. We then found MP and Simply Classical. My middle child started kindergarten after a semester of jrK. That puts these two kids less than a year apart academically, though they should be three grades apart. We have struggled with your dilemma of a younger child passing an older.

    My older switched to SC. It's the same, but just different enough to escape some of the comparisons. His Storytime Treasures book was different last year, his writing book is very different this year. Spelling books look different. You could use book covers if a child is sensitive to grade levels.

    Overall, this is a struggle your older child will face as they age. They know they're different. They know they learn slower. It's a life teaching lesson to appreciate our differences, our strengths and weaknesses.

    I have decided to pace my younger child. Starting with K, she has completed a guide a year. She completed her first semester reading early this year. We filled the gap with Pathway Readers. She just started More Storytime Treasures, right on time with second semester. I hold her to a math lesson a day.

    Why? Some other moms might say to let that child run as fast as they can. Twofold answer. One, I don't want my child to be too young for mature reading content in the older guides. Two, I think kids need to learn to pace themselves sometimes. Percocious learners can burnout too quick, too young. Life isn't all academic, learning leisure time activities helps reduce stress later on

    Now when my middle gets to the point of the advanced track, she'll probably go that route while my son sticks with Simply Classical. That will be another challenging transition for everyone.
    Last edited by Colomama; 01-05-2018 at 10:54 PM.
    Married to DH for 13 years. Living the rural life in the Colorado mountains

    DS10- Simply Classical 4 / Grade 3 Classic Core,
    DD8- Grade 2 Classic Core,
    DD 6- Classic Core Kindergarten

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Emotional support for a struggling learner with a precocious younger sibling

    Thanks for the reply. I should add that I do not let any of the kids interrupt their siblings during recitation. The younger ones would listen in and repeat everything later in the day while playing school with each other. Aside from keeping them out of the room I'm not sure how to stop that without discouraging them from learning.

    I looked into SC, but the placement was confusing, and we already had the 2nd grade core. I'm not sure we can afford the expense of another core.

    I'm glad to hear that you have kept your younger child doing 1 core a year. That is our plan too. My husband and I both started college early, him at 16 and me at 14, wee both struggled and don't want the kids to follow the same path. We're forcing the younger kid's to slow down and take a full year to complete Jr K. In the fall I hope to have my 3 year old repeat Jr K while the 4 year old moves up to kindergarten
    .

    I do know my 9 year old will most likely struggle with this her h
    Whole life, so I'd like to give her the tools now to help. Being the middle child of 5 she hasnt found her niche yet. Everything right now seems to be struggle for her. Seeing how 'easy' her siblings have it is making it hard to keep her motivated in areas where she is stronger. Because even in her strengths she feels she is weaker than her siblings.
    DD12- 7M SFL
    DD11- 5A
    DD9- 2nd
    DD4- JrK
    DS3- Vacillating between tagging along and wreaking havoc

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    Default Re: Emotional support for a struggling learner with a precocious younger sibling

    My heart goes out to your daughter, and to you as you watch her struggle. My son has dealt with this repeatedly in his life, not because of a sibling, but because of younger cousins, friends, and neighborhood kids who surpassed him time and again. There has been no "one and done" way to help him with this.

    It seems to come in waves. First came the awards, such as in Pinewood Derby, where he was inevitably last despite being two years older than the other scouts in his den. Then milestones, such as driving or going away to college. Now it is watching friends become engaged and marry, when he cannot.

    Whether social, as in our case, or academic as in yours, the heartache sometimes seems unending. But it isn't.

    In fact, I think our son has more insight and compassion than most, because he has endured so many hard moments requiring long conversations and honest appraisals of his role in our family, in our church, and in our neigbborhood. He is now the one who takes my daughter to check on shut-in elderly neighbors in the cold, shovel their driveways, or walk their dogs. He is now the one to greet older people at our church, some of whom say, "Do you know, Michael, that's the only hug I get all week? Thank you." As those of us who are more capable by other standards witness this, we all learn about "service in the small things" from him.


    All this is to say that at 9, she is probably just beginning to sense the differences that, as you note, she may grapple with for years to come. A few questions:

    1. Has she been evaluated for specific learning disabilities? Sometimes having a "name" for the challenges can be comforting. The information can also help you know if teaching methods should be different.

    2. Does she struggle only with memory work, as in the recitations or poetry memorization that you mention, or is she also struggling with reading, spelling, arithmetic, writing?

    3. Have you looked at SC 2?
    This can be a nice bridge between MP 1 and MP 2 for some students. We work on spelling, reading, and arithmetic while boosting with enrichment. As Colomama said (and your husband suggested), the actual books are different. Look at SC Writing Book One, SC Spelling Book One, SC More Story time Treasures. These are all different than MP K, 1, or 2. You could do as Colomama did and purchase only the items you need, rather than a full core, and then order the pdf lesson plans to go with them.


    And no need to apologize for any redundancy! These "matters of the heart" never really go away for any of us. We walk alongside our children as they learn to think about themselves in healthy, contented, other-centered ways. I have found that I learn much about education -- and life -- by needing to find a response to my children's voiced or sometimes unspoken sadness.

    Does it matter if we are not "on grade level" right now? Does it matter if your sibling learns more quickly or slowly than you do? What is healthy/unhealthy competition? What makes a human being worthwhile: being created in the image of God? How might we look to love our neighbor, rejoice with the success of others, serve with the meager abilities we have? How might we rest in being loved and in loving?


    All of these discussions can make her stronger in the end.
    Last edited by cherylswope; 01-06-2018 at 05:26 PM.

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    Default Re: Emotional support for a struggling learner with a precocious younger sibling

    Thank you for sharing about Micheal, Cheryl. It really does help to know that kids can go through these struggles and come out happy on the other side.

    We had my daughter evaluated when she was 3. She was diagnosed with speech apraxia and high functioning autism. She has worked with an OT and ST for years. Last year we added a reading tutor to her team. The tutor is an amazing woman who helps my daughter emotionally as well as with her reading. She is a gift from God.

    My daughter's main struggle is with language. Her math skills are on level with her age. Reading and reciting words is difficult for her. Even in math she struggles with flashcards and oral recitation, but does her 3rd grade math book almost independently without mistakes.

    I thought about switching to a simply classical level, but she has finished story time treasures and more story time treasures, so I wasn't sure if it would be a good fit. I don't want her to feel like I'm moving her backwards. Now that I'm spending more time looking at it I think switching for writing and spelling at least would be very beneficial for her.
    DD12- 7M SFL
    DD11- 5A
    DD9- 2nd
    DD4- JrK
    DS3- Vacillating between tagging along and wreaking havoc

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    Default Re: Emotional support for a struggling learner with a precocious younger sibling

    So, has your daughter progressed to 2nd grade reading? If so, which books has she read? You could look at the freshly posted SC4 lit book selections and spend the rest of this year focusing in the books not included there, then move her to SC4 next year but customize for her math.
    Married to DH for 13 years. Living the rural life in the Colorado mountains

    DS10- Simply Classical 4 / Grade 3 Classic Core,
    DD8- Grade 2 Classic Core,
    DD 6- Classic Core Kindergarten

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    Default Re: Emotional support for a struggling learner with a precocious younger sibling

    She has moved to 2nd grade reading. She just started the second book, Animal Tales, last week. She can do the work, but it is too much as assigned. For now we have been breaking up each lesson into 4 days. Day 1 i read the whole selection and the qiestions aloud. Day 2 she reads the first half of the selection, does the dictionary words, and read the questions aloud to her again. Day 3 she reads the second half of the selection and we discuss the questions orally. I then write out the answers. Day 4 she re reads the whole selection and copies the sentences we wrote the day before.
    DD12- 7M SFL
    DD11- 5A
    DD9- 2nd
    DD4- JrK
    DS3- Vacillating between tagging along and wreaking havoc

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    Default Re: Emotional support for a struggling learner with a precocious younger sibling

    Animal folktales was a challenge for my son too. THe stories were so outrageous that he couldn't easily follow the storyline.

    So she's read prairie school and is struggling through animal folktales. I would maybe finish animal folktales. Maybe focus on reading and comprehension, but eliminate the writing in the workbook? Then, spend the remainder of the year doing Beatrix Potter books. This would allow a pretty painless transition to SC4 lit next year. Animal folktales, Sarah Noble, and Little House in the Big Woods are scheduled. Re-reading animal folktales might be good. Or you could just skip it and start with Sarah Noble and then add another grade 2 lit book at the end of the year.
    Married to DH for 13 years. Living the rural life in the Colorado mountains

    DS10- Simply Classical 4 / Grade 3 Classic Core,
    DD8- Grade 2 Classic Core,
    DD 6- Classic Core Kindergarten

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    Default Re: Emotional support for a struggling learner with a precocious younger sibling

    That sounds like a great idea. Animal Folk Tales is rough. I do think she'll be happier when we move on to Beatrix Potter. Even though the work will be the same, I think she'll enjoy the stories more. If I eliminate the writing portion for her should we still work out the sentences together and I write it out for her? Or accept her answers to the questions, even if they aren't full sentences or her word order is off? Or would it be best to skip the questions altogether?
    DD12- 7M SFL
    DD11- 5A
    DD9- 2nd
    DD4- JrK
    DS3- Vacillating between tagging along and wreaking havoc

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    Default Re: Emotional support for a struggling learner with a precocious younger sibling

    I would lean towards working up a good answer and you write it down. Working through that skill is really important.

    If composing full sentences is still a challenge, I highly recommend looking at SC Writing. Look at both levels available and see where her skills are. If adding read aloud would be too much, go with the Bible version and put that in place of your current Bible reading. My son's composition skills have improved a lot with those books.
    Married to DH for 13 years. Living the rural life in the Colorado mountains

    DS10- Simply Classical 4 / Grade 3 Classic Core,
    DD8- Grade 2 Classic Core,
    DD 6- Classic Core Kindergarten

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    Default Re: Emotional support for a struggling learner with a precocious younger sibling

    Another thought:
    With her history of speech apraxia, ASD, ST, OT, you might consider pursuing an updated evaluation for specific learning disabilities. Now that she is 9 and evidencing difficulties with language and reading, this would seem a logical next step in addition to the good insights above.

    As for Animal Folk Tales, we are hopeful that our graduating SC 3 students will fare better with Animal Folk Tales in SC 4, due to their greater exposure to Johnny Appleseed and others in SC 3 American history.
    Last edited by cherylswope; 01-10-2018 at 12:43 PM.

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    Default Re: Emotional support for a struggling learner with a precocious younger sibling

    I understand somewhat what you are going through. My 11 year old daughter is in week 23 of the 3rd grade core. She has unspecified learning disabilities in math computation and language, and we have had to slow down and modify things a lot. She is currently thriving in the 3rd grade core, with Right Start Math substituted in. What worries me is that her 8/almost 9 year old brother is on week 27 of the 2nd grade core. I have actually had the same thought as your husband...that maybe I should move my son to a different curriculum so he's not doing the same thing my daughter did a few months earlier, but then I don't want him to miss out on the MP 3rd grade core, because I know it's a very important year.

    I have enjoyed reading other people's replies. I wish there was SC6 so my daughter could feel like she was on grade level.
    Kristen

    DD 14
    DD 12
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    DS 7

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    Default Re: Emotional support for a struggling learner with a precocious younger sibling

    Sorry for my slow response. I try to stay off electronics during school and the past few days my kids have all needed help from me, so their school work lasted the entire day in shifts.

    I have taken out the writing portion from my daughter's literature the last few days. We still worked out sentences to answer the questions, but taking away the writing portion cut her work time in half. I'll be buying SC writing this week. She could use more direction forming sentences. Hopefully it helps.

    What are the advantages of testing for learning disabilities while homeschooling? I've always assumed a diagnoses mainly helped with classroom support. Since we are homeschooling I thought that a diagnoses wouldn't provider much help.
    DD12- 7M SFL
    DD11- 5A
    DD9- 2nd
    DD4- JrK
    DS3- Vacillating between tagging along and wreaking havoc

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    Default Re: Emotional support for a struggling learner with a precocious younger sibling

    No apologies needed for teaching instead of being online! Come & go as time permits.

    A few benefits of a good evaluation:
    1. A specific diagnosis can serve as a comforting explanation for a frustrated student.
    2. A thorough evaluation can assess and determine the way(s) the person learns best. Much more than those ubiquitous attempts to find a child's learning "style," this will include identifying key, measurable areas of strength or concern, such as working memory, processing, visual-spatial, linguistic.
    3. An evaluation at this age (9) is a more reliable assessment of intellectual ability than during the preschool years. Not only is the overall IQ sometimes helpful, but the subtests -- and discrepancies among them -- can be very revealing.
    4. A good evaluation can also be encouraging! I remember when my son was struggling mightily at about your daughter's age, and we learned that he scored exceptionally high on analytical tasks. This was a joy to reveal to him. It also helped us better understand how his mind worked.
    5. A good assessment can help with long-term plannng. For example, in the book Simply Classical, you will find in the Assessment chapters a primer on the Slow Learner vs. the Student with Learning Disabilities. Knowing the difference in your child can make an enormous difference in your expectations and teaching strategies, both short-term and long-term.

    At a giant homeschool convention one year, I co-led a talk entitled "What Good Are Labels: Understanding Your Child's Learning Problems." I can bring to Sodalitas the CDs of that talk for anyone who would like to have it.

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    Default Re: Emotional support for a struggling learner with a precocious younger sibling

    Quote Originally Posted by Winter Cast View Post

    What are the advantages of testing for learning disabilities while homeschooling? I've always assumed a diagnoses mainly helped with classroom support. Since we are homeschooling I thought that a diagnoses wouldn't provider much help.

    I can speak to this pretty currently.

    My son has always struggled. I didn't think an assessment was needed for the same reasons you mention. As a homeschooler, I don't need a diagnosis to adjust expectations or tweak curriculum.

    My son went through a psych-educational assessment. Some things were right what I expected; poor spelling skills, low math computation ability. Those results confirmed what I already knew from our end of year academic testing. But, they didn't explain the 'why'.

    The psych portion shed some light on the 'why' he struggled. It showed low processing speed and short term memory. These two struggles impact his IQ. I hesitate at the label ADHD, but he meets the definition. (In my mind there's a fine line between being 'boy' and ADHD). It also showed that he struggled with sensory issues, a surprise to me. The biggest surprise of all the testing was the word 'autism'. Totally not on my radar.

    I thought I could just tweak curriculum and make it work. Testing showed me that he has real struggles. I'm not coddling him, he's working at his limit.

    Testing gave me permission to breathe. It allows me to be happy where we're at instead of constantly comparing us to where we 'should' be.

    If he ever enrolls in school (college) he could receive assistance with a bona fide diagnosis.

    It was also nice to have a third party confirm some of my observations. It wasn't mom coddling or any lack of discipline. It also showed he was trying. It isn't intentional disrespect.

    A diagnosis has led to more compassion and understanding from me. It's not a get out of jail free card, but it has improved the relationship between my son and I.
    Married to DH for 13 years. Living the rural life in the Colorado mountains

    DS10- Simply Classical 4 / Grade 3 Classic Core,
    DD8- Grade 2 Classic Core,
    DD 6- Classic Core Kindergarten

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    Default Re: Emotional support for a struggling learner with a precocious younger sibling

    Quote Originally Posted by Winter Cast View Post

    What are the advantages of testing for learning disabilities while homeschooling? I've always assumed a diagnoses mainly helped with classroom support. Since we are homeschooling I thought that a diagnoses wouldn't provider much help.
    I'm two weeks away from a formal evaluation for one of my twin sons. This has been two years in the making, as I tried alternatives to testing. (screening at the local dyslexia school, hearing exams, OT, etc.)

    For me, the formal evaluation will serve a number of purposes:
    1) Getting an official diagnosis for ME -- instead of assuming what's going on. Based on symptoms, screening, and response to interventions, there's no doubt in my mind that he's dyslexic. But, I want to know the severity, and if there are any comorbidities, etc. I don't expect an ADHD diagnosis, but likely dysgraphia, and the psychologist has already mentioned twice-exceptionality. (which doesn't surprise me) Once testing, scoring, and post-discussion are complete, I'll walk away armed to be a better advocate for him at home, as well as away. I'll have a better handle on his strengths and weakness, and know what is asking too much of him, and what work he's capable of.
    2) Getting a diagnosis for HIM -- he already knows something is going on. He's a bright boy, but struggles with word retrieval, handwriting, etc. Last week, he asked me what special needs meant. I'm not sure where he heard the term, but I sat down and explained it to him. He knows he's going for testing, and quite frankly, this will be a relief for him. He tends to beat himself up a lot, and having an answer to why he reads much slower than his sister, etc.
    3) Planning for the future -- I know that he will need accomodations in certain classroom settings, and definitely in testing situations. As I understand it, for ACT/SAT accommodations, you have to have a paper trail in place.
    DD #1 : 23, college GRADUATE
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    Default Re: Emotional support for a struggling learner with a precocious younger sibling

    Quote Originally Posted by cherylswope View Post

    At a giant homeschool convention one year, I co-led a talk entitled "What Good Are Labels: Understanding Your Child's Learning Problems." I can bring to Sodalitas the CDs of that talk for anyone who would like to have it.
    Cheryl,

    Was this a talk you did with Kathy Kuhl? I remember hearing this and it was excellent!
    DD #1 : 23, college GRADUATE
    DD #2 : 12 MP 7A - HLS Cottage School Louisville, MPOA
    DS #3 : 10, MP3M+Simply Classical4; HLS Cottage School Louisville
    DS #4 : 10, MP3M+Simply Classical4; HLS Cottage School Louisville
    DD #5: 6, MP 1 at HLS
    DS #6: 4, cutest caboose on the loose
    http://www.thekennedyadventures.com

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    Default Re: Emotional support for a struggling learner with a precocious younger sibling

    Quote Originally Posted by DiannaKennedy View Post
    Cheryl,

    Was this a talk you did with Kathy Kuhl? I remember hearing this and it was excellent!
    Yes, thank you!

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