Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A bit about our homeschooling...

I wanted to share a bit about our homeschooling, ways I organize tasks, and typical activities for our homeschool sessions.

I got myself a nifty weekly calendar in the Target Dollar Spot at the beginning of the year, and every Saturday I fill each weekday with 5-6 tasks that I hope to get done each day. On Sundays, I collect the materials (in case I need to make or build anything for a sensory activity) and print out any worksheets necessary.

I usually google the topic of the week (currently, one letter and one number a week) and print developmental-age appropriate worksheets that come up. I try to find one dot-a-dot sheet for each concept (Bu LOVES dot-a-dots) and a tracing sheet. If I can't find one I like or want more worksheets than I can find online for free, then I make my own with highlighters or markers. 

I mostly aim to reinforce the concepts he's learning in Occupational Therapy, while using a lot of labeling and trying to engage Bu verbally so we can work on his Speech and Vocabulary at the same time. I know he may not be cognitively ready to recite his ABCs or learn to count, but he has surprised me before with how quickly he picks up certain concepts, particularly relating to patterns, and he can usually point out a letter, shape, or color when asked to identify one out of a group. My main goal is working on his engagement and attention while cementing what he's taught at therapy, and everything else he may pick up is a wonderful bonus. 

The most important part of any therapy or teaching is coming up with a reward system. I find this holds true for most children, but it's particularly important in order to maintain Bu's attention. As it is, I can get him to sit at his table for 15-25 minutes consistently working, without ANY screens on. This is an EXTRAORDINARY change from just a few months ago. My secret is to give Bu several mini-tasks (for example, I may break a sorting activity into 4 segments rather than asking him to sort the whole pile at once) and I stop to reward him at the end of each mini-task. Right now, I keep a bottle of bubbles next to me while we work, so he can see his reward. He knows he doesn't get bubbles until he's done, so he completes a task even when he doesn't really want to. The key is to be consistent. I don't give him his bubbles until he's finished with what I've asked (even if it's with a lot of help, he MUST finish what he starts) but I also don't withhold rewards. Once I say he can have something, he knows he will have it…it's in this way that he can trust that even though he doesn't want to stack that last block, he can be sure that once he does, he will definitely get his bubbles!

Eventually bubbles will no longer hold his interest, so I'm trying to find other ways to reward him. Bu actually tasted his first organic lollipop today after his homeschooling session and he HATED IT! He's not much for sweets…which is just as well, because I'm not much for using food as a reward. I'm just going to have to keep looking for more things that he's willing to work for! 

I hope this has helped, and please feel free to ask any questions you'd like regarding our homeschooling in the comments or by email! 

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