Tag Archives: ESE

7 Reasons Homeschooling Works and One Reason It’s Tough

 

  1. Flexibility

When a family decides to homeschool, they get to set their schedule. Does mom work the night shift? No problem, homeschool in the morning or afternoon. Does dad have a business trip during the week and you are invited? Awesome! No absentee notes to write and have rejected by the principal because they aren’t sick notes.

Head on out to Boston, New York, or nearly anywhere you’re your wallet can afford. You may even learn something about history, cultures, transportation, architecture, or art while out and about.

  1. Family Time

Because your schedule is not set by the local school, you can decide when you have classes, trips, chores, movie night, and other events. It can be easier to schedule family time when it is convenient rather than in the time left over after dealing with schedules other entities give you.

  1. Developmentally Appropriate Lessons

I hear complaints every day. Either schools are asking students to do things they are not yet ready to understand or schools are giving kids busy work they have already mastered. We can’t blame schools and teachers too much for this. They are stuck. They have many kids and a curriculum which says it is for all, but really has expectations that all students will master the same benchmarks. Sure, teachers scaffold, remediate, and try their hardest, but some kids are ahead or behind the given benchmarks due to their developmental stage.

This means that many come away from public school frustrated because this learning model does not meet everyone’s needs. Homeschool families can choose to work at a student’s developmental stage and build from there. With one on one or small group lessons, such as in a co-op, this is an easier task than in a classroom with 18 or more students.

  1. Time for ESE

There are some fantastic ESE programs at brick and mortar schools for those living with special needs. However, there are also advantages to one on one and small group instruction provided in a home education setting. Students who are easily distracted, are too shy to speak up when they do not understand, or who get lost in the shuffle when there is a large group will benefit from having more attention and help. There is no comparison between an 18 to 1 ratio and a 1 to 1 ratio. There just isn’t. Keep in mind that with less time spent waiting for his turn, your child will have more time to attend therapist and doctor appointments, if needed.

  1. Extracurriculars

Is your child a budding actress? Does your child have an aptitude for baseball? Less time in class waiting on others to complete work or have questions answered equals more time for extracurriculars. Sometimes your local school also allows homeschooled students to join their teams so keep this in mind, too.

  1. Friends

In brick and mortar schools you meet the people who are in class with you. Hopefully, you make friends with them and see each other outside of class, too. After school time is limited, though. During school, your job is to work on academics. You don’t get to practice social skills, navigating friendships with ample time to put towards solving problems.

Homeschool students often have friends of different ages and socioeconomic statutes. They also tend to have more time to devote to getting together, volunteering, and working on social skills such as problem solving

  1. Pursue childhood

Seems like we see articles about recapturing childhood and getting rid of screen-time. One great way to do this is to give your child the gift of time to play and exercise without imposing rules about how they should do this, though safety rules may be needed in some cases. Sure, those who attend brick and mortar schools can do this on weekends and after school. That can definitely work. Homeschoolers can do this, too. They can suspend lessons to enjoy a beautiful day attend a field trip outdoors, or explore a local town.

When It Gets Tough

Homeschooling isn’t without it’s challenges. Personality conflicts may occur between siblings or parent and child. Plus, the time and commitment needed to plan and stick with this schooling model can be overwhelming in some cases. Thankfully, there are online and local support groups which often help for free. There are also bloggers, consultants, and local classes in most areas. The idea is to take a team approach rather than going it alone. Plus, adjusting lessons and activities when you see a need to do so can be beneficial and lower stress.

 

If you would like to discuss homeschool or unschool options, feel free to reach out to me. I receive questions every day and am happy to help. Should you need a more in-depth meeting, reading coaching or lesson writing services, please let me know. I am happy to help. Allow me to put my experience to work for you!

 

Melissa Packwood, M.S. Ed.
Photograph by Alexandra Islas

 

 

Misbehavior During Tutoring Sessions? Perfectly Normal.

What To Expect During Tutoring Sessions

I work with many families as a tutor. Most of my clients sought out a tutor due to a special need or because they want assistance in home educating their child. I know that each child is different and each child will have their own strengths and things they are still working to achieve. I want to stress that parents may feel anxiety, but their child’s behaviors and current achievements may be similar to what everyone else is doing, too.

When Your Child Says “NO!”

Your child will probably say no or refuse to participate at one point or another. They may do this often, or rarely. This may be due to illness, a bad mood, or fear of getting it wrong. Also, some children like to control the activities because they feel less anxiety when in control. Don’t worry. We will work on this. We will establish a routine and your child will feel more comfortable with me helping guide activities which are new.

You may see that I change topics or activities if a child is shutting down. This is one way to change the child’s mood and help encourage participation. If we can learn the same information another way, I may try that. I may also come back to the lesson or activity later in the session or later in the year. I won’t skip a topic forever, but I will work with your child to find fun ways to learn the information. We are a team.

When Your Child Is Distracted

Everybody gets distracted. Whether I tutor at your home or a public place, like a library, there will be distractions. Your child may also lose interest. It is rare for anyone, even adults, to have an attention span for long tasks. I will try to keep tasks short and full of academic information. If your child has difficulty with the length of an activity, I may break it up into parts. We may take a break to sing a song, color, or stretch.

I usually set a timer so we use our time to the fullest. This may mean I set a 2-5 minute timer for the break, too. Don’t worry, though, your child is learning about study skills and how to break large or frustrating tasks down into smaller portions. This helps lessen the chance of refusal to participate and enables the child to make similar choices on their own, in the future.

When Your Child Throws Or Hits

There is very little I haven’t seen. I worked as a classroom teacher, have children of my own, and worked in childcare prior to earning my teaching certificate and master’s degree. I have had kids hit, throw things at, bite, yell, and curse at me from time to time. When your child throws or isn’t gentle when handing me a paper or bottle of glue, don’t worry. I will gently, yet firmly, correct the behavior and you are welcome to do the same.

Sometimes kids push, hit, or throw because they feel anxiety over a new situation or difficult subject.

There is a lot of practice in early childhood education. I constantly must remind children to be kind, gentle, and to use words or show me the item they do not have words to explain, yet. I am not offended by your child’s behavior and, depending on your child’s developmental stage, it may be that throwing is part of learning about emotions, self-control, choices, and motor skills.

When Your Child Has Difficulty With Motor Skills

Fine motor skills refer to movements used to cut with scissors, write with a pencil, and other small muscle motions. Gross motor skills refer to large movements and control of the muscles that allow these movements. Sometimes children have low muscle tone or have a special need which makes them less likely to have control of muscles. When this happens, they may feel pain or frustration when participating in activities such as jumping, climbing, cutting, or writing. Your child may be resistant to these activities to avoid a feeling of failure or potential pain of an activity.

I often break tasks children find challenging into multiple steps with breaks in between. Also, sometimes is becomes necessary to use tablets or computers with keyboards to help students who struggle with writing. If they get stuck on the letter formation part of the task, they will have difficulty with expressing themselves through written word. Another important point is that you can strengthen muscle tone by doing activities that are not writing. I may use tasks which include tweezers and sorting, clay, or similar activities to help with fine motor skills. Sometimes doing something that doesn’t seem academic helps a child feel less anxiety and more interested, though there are still positive outcomes when using the activity.

When Your Child Has Limited Expressive Language Or Is Nonverbal

When I taught in public schools, the common ideal was that even if a child had a special need, the teacher had to find a way to teach and assess understanding. This often meant non-traditional activities, extra lesson planning time, and alternative assessments. One issue that often required a slight deviation from typical lessons and assessments was when a student had limited expressive language, or a limited ability to verbally explain their thoughts.

I encourage parents to work with me so I understand what milestones a child has reached as well as what skills are still being honed. This way, I have a better understanding of what can be done during lessons and assessments to accurately gauge student learning. I am not a big fan of paper and pencil testing, but for those who have limited language, a written test may work best. For younger students, tutor/teacher and parent observation may be best. While these are not the only two options, they give an idea of what can be done to adjust for a student’s needs.

When Your Child Has Limited Receptive Language

Receptive language refers to the ability to understand oral information given in your first language. (English language learners who have a different first language would not be considered low on receptive language for the purposes of diagnosing a special need and may be given different assessments than those for whom English is a first language.) When a student has a low receptive language score, I consider other potential issues such as shyness or refusal to cooperate with the assessor. Sometimes the scores in tests such as these are accurate, sometimes they are not. I often use very basic, one-step instructions for all tasks, whether complicated or not. In addition, repetition is great for all kids, but is imperative for those with low receptive language scores. Predictability and easy to follow processes help.

What Does All This Mean?

There are many other potential issues which may come up during tutoring. Every student is different and deserves attention, patience, and positivity. This may mean that we use activity cards, a specific procedure or order to lessons, or take breaks to get up and move. Don’t worry. The behaviors and choices of your child are most likely something I have seen multiple times.

My job is to work with you and your child.

All I ask is that you work with me, express any concerns or tips you have, and advocate for your child as you already so perfectly do every day. Don’t worry about your child behaving in a way I will dislike. I won’t be offended. I promise. We are a team and it’s all normal.

 

If you would like information about tutoring, homeschool and unschool evaluations, a consultation to discuss mapping out your homeschool year or curriculum writing services, please contact me here or at 407-712-4368. Let me put my experience to work for you!

Melissa Packwood, M.S. Ed.
Photograph by Alexandra Islas

Step Outside of “The Bubble” – Inclusion Matters

I worked for many years as a public school teacher. I always worked in Title I schools which means that they had a high free and reduced lunch rate indicating a low-income level for a majority of the students who attended the schools. With this label often came behavior issues and other concerns. The job wasn’t easy, but was important. My friends and I would often talk about the schools, especially private or charter, who had this type of socio-economic issue less often. We considered them to be in The Bubble. Some schools were more of an eclectic mixture of people, backgrounds, and income levels. Others were more closed off and likely didn’t even realize it.

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Some of my former colleagues moved to a school in a lovely neighborhood filled with high income housing and 3 to 4 figure incomes. They remarked about how easy it was to get supplies, volunteers, and other resources. They also noted how little the families knew about those with special needs or who lived within a low-income. It was like two different worlds to these colleagues.

I noticed this, too. Sometimes people in The Bubble don’t realize that special needs or not having what you need in life due to income level is a real-life situation every day for many people. I don’t mean to categorize everyone who has plenty of money or a nice home. However, when this cycle of parents in The Bubble raising children in The Bubble continues over and over, it is easy to lose touch with the many, many people not in The Bubble who deal every day with these issues. It’s one of those “you don’t know that you don’t know” situations in many cases.

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The Bubble is about more than the key to a nice home. The Bubble is a place of privilege, away from the stress of other people’s life experiences.

What is “The Bubble”?

The Bubble is a place where privileged folks hang out. It’s more about a comfort zone and state of mind than a place. In The Bubble, you won’t find many people who have a low income or special needs. The Bubble is where you are safe from the unpleasant parts of the human experience. Sounds fabulous, right? The Bubble is a calm, relaxing, lovely place to be. You don’t have to step out of your comfort zone too often and you certainly don’t have to deal with the things that make you feel uncomfortable or sad on a regular basis.

What’s so bad about that?

Here’s the problem. The Bubble isn’t the real world. The Bubble hinders our emotional development and the development of our children. When children attend schools and after school activities in The Bubble, they don’t usually have regular contact with those who have profound differences such as those who are who are living with special needs.

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How will children learn empathy if they don’t see those who struggle and learn to help?

Children need to see differences. They need to work on problem-solving and helping those on their team or in their classroom. Sometimes this may mean physically helping a child who has limited mobility, but other times it means being a cheerleader who urges a friend to try a task until she succeeds. This builds character and empathy.

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What if a child is profoundly disabled?

Though a child may need a carer with them, the child should still be seen and allowed to interact. The Bubble prevents this. By segregating those who are able and those with special needs, we cheat our children out of the chance to help others and emotionally support one another.

But she is noisy and he is messy!

Some children make loud noises or messes due to their special needs. This should not hinder them from typical classrooms or a variety of extracurricular opportunities. The children in The Bubble NEED to see, learn about, and learn to support students with special needs just the same as they would those in The Bubble. Noise, messes, and other differences are no reason to keep someone out of a classroom, school, or extracurricular program.

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Those with special needs that affect attention and distraction will have an opportunity to work on using strategies they have learned to focus and, of course, teachers can give them a quieter space if needed in most cases, too, though this may depend on the school or program facility and staffing specifics.

Real life can be distracting. Our children need to learn that they can ignore these distractions when necessary and help when necessary.

What about the students who are unsafe?

Some students make unsafe choices. This may mean they have a carer with them to help when they become agitated. If a safety plan is in place, and followed, students who are working on making safe, well-thought out, kind choices should absolutely be present in classrooms, even in The Bubble. This allows the student with special needs to learn from those who are typically developing and for those who are considered able and neurotypical to practice setting boundaries, following through on rules and routines, and practice empathy.

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Children grow up to be adults and continue previous cycles.

The Bubble is present in many of our communities. It has perks. However, the downside of The Bubble is that many are not included and children in The Bubble don’t know much about the real world or how to adjust to new and different things. These children grow up to be adults who continue The Bubble by not including others and placing a stigma on those who are different. They may even throw a tantrum when things are not perfect. This sense of entitlement is unacceptable in the real world and hinders the acceptance of those with special needs.

Do we really want to continue this cycle, or is it time to end The Bubble?

The Bubble sounds great. Who wouldn’t like a break from real life? But, we have a responsibility to raise our children outside of The Bubble so they learn empathy, that differences are okay if everyone is safe, and how to handle new or different situations which may slow their day down a bit.