Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Experiences Homeschooling a Speech Delayed Child, Part II

I am not a speech therapist or doctor, just a mom sharing her experience. It is always a good idea to consult your pediatrician if you suspect a speech delay. Part I is here.

Homeschool Speech Enrichment Ideas

The big leap in speech occurred at age six for our son. It was not a leap he would have made on his own, it was the curriculum and one-on-one teaching which got him there. He's nine years old now and doing great, with very little if any speech delay.

Here are a few things we did during the tough years, years when I worried about if he'd ever learn to talk or read, roughly between ages three and six. The time and energy worrying would have been spent more wisely in prayer, but I'm wiser now for having gone through this.

Helpful Stuff For Speech Enrichment:

We developed vocabulary with anything I could think of. I used preschool and kindergarten workbooks, like the big fat ones from K-Mart and wallyworld, and free online printables with picture identification. We went over the same concepts everyday until he got it. It took time and patience. I kept a notebook recording the concepts and words he still needed to cover, and found more sheets online which addressed these areas. I also went back and pulled worksheets which he had trouble answering, and we re-did them. We were able to do this by making reusable worksheets.

One example of a game I made up was a letter game with cut out pictures. I'd have about fifteen small cut out pictures I had collected off the net from free worksheet sites. I'd arrange them randomly on paper, and slide them into a clear plastic three ringed binder sleeve. He'd then place a penny on each thing that started with the letter I selected. I gave him the exact number of pennies that he needed to find the objects. He knew when he was done when the pennies where used up. These could be mixed up and interchanged for variety, and used again with other letters.

We used DLTK letter people which required cutting and coloring. I remember doing letter of the week. It was fun to collect free alphabet resources online each week.

We also used quite a few read along books on tape, and read along books on cd-rom. One particular read along series was very good for car learning: Let's Discover Words. A Troll Picture Dictionary. I purchased this series on ebay...I think it is out of print, but some libraries might still have them. It's worth the search. Each letter has it's own read along book and tape covering words which begin with that particular letter.

Computer learning software was helpful. There are many children's learning programs on cd-rom. Some of our favorites were Sesame Street learning, Reader Rabbit and Dr. Seuss Kindergarten. He did well with this type of visual learning.

He loved puzzles, so we got him puzzle after puzzle. I think he finally stopped at the 1000 piece puzzles. It was great for fine motor coordination, thinking and concentration, and pre-reading skills. When he began to read well around age seven, he stopped doing as many puzzles. The puzzles seemed to help him to transition to reading, so we ran with it. Solid well written literature was important for developing his vocabulary and improved language skills. Written language and spoken language are linked.

He enjoyed puppets, so we did quite a bit of learning with puppets. Sometimes the puppets taught. ;) He also seemed to be receptive to learning with flannel pieces. We used the book list from Before Five In A Row, and bought the matching hand made felt(flannel) story pieces from a few ladies on ebay who sell and auction these at reasonable prices. The visual clues of telling the story with the felt pieces helps engage a speech delayed child. He/she can also get prompts from the story pieces when narrating the story back to you.

We used felt pieces for teaching concepts like up and down, in and out, next to and below, top and bottom, etc. Just by moving felt pieces around the felt board we extended their use. I'd give directions like, put the duck next to the barn, or put the duck next to the cow, and he'd learn in an interactive visual way. This helped with speech enormously.

Here are some ideas I got from Dr. Camerata's web site. He works with late talking children at the Vanderbilt Brain Institute.

- Follows the child's lead
- Recasts the child's immediate verbal utterance or referent of
the child's attention.
- Does not require a verbal response from the child.

- Concentrated Play: Child led play using recasting.

- Modeling Language: Using short language to talk about what is happening now.

Other similar ideas:

- Self talk : Describe what you are doing as you do it.

- Parallel Talk : Describe what your child is doing as he does it.

- Expanding : Add sentence structure to what your child says.

- Extending : Add meaning to what your child says.

More ideas and explanations of these techniques here. There is also a beginning vocabulary list you and your child can work on, and links to verb and nouns phrases, and other developing elements of speech.

These ideas are not just good for speech delayed children, it's wonderful for any young children because you are expanding their language and communication skills in a one-on-one child led situation. You are spending special time with your child, bonding in love. What better way to learn!

Update: Some of the speech enrichment links above are not working as the site has moved, or is in the process of moving. Here is the main link. 

More Resources:

Helpful resource for home-based speech therapy. This is a homeschool deaf education link, but the therapies could be useful for hearing children with communication issues.

Support for homeschooling children with special needs: NATHAN, National Challenged Homeschoolers Associated Network.

Straight Talk - Speech and Language Program to use at home by Marisa Lapish, M.A. Home based speech therapy guides.

Plain & Simple Phonics: Created for children with delays that need to move very slowly. According to the website, there is a lot of repetition and no hand printing.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Experiences Homeschooling a Speech Delayed Child, Part I

I'm not a doctor or a specialist, just a mom who is sharing her experience with the home education of a formally speech delayed child. Parents should always consult their pediatrician if they suspect a speech delay. That being said, here is my story.

My son had a two year expressive/receptive speech delay when he was tested at age four. He went through all the recommended tests via our pediatrician's referrals to various specialists, and it was determined that he had a speech delay without any other issues. We had him in speech therapy for a while, but it wasn't anything that I could not provide for him at home. We also pursued the free therapy via the public school system, but they classified my son as retarded. The school makes their classification independently of a diagnosis. So if the pediatrician finds no mental retardation, children can still be classified for these services if they test poorly, or the evaluation team feels that the child is a very slow learner. We didn't agree with this classification, but rather than fight this label, we decided to go it on our own.

The first thing we tried was floor play(concentrated play) which was what the therapists had been doing with him once a week for an hour. I spent every day down on the floor with him goofing around while making a pointed attempt at inserting words into our play, basically helping him develop his vocabulary. After he got a little older, we graduated to computer learning and used children's cd-roms like Kindergarten Rabbit, Reader Rabbit, and free online learning games like those offered at Pbskids.com. This was good because he was listening and following instructions - learning interactively with visual clues.

He was losing interest in the computer learning, and we needed to focus on seat work to develop his writing skills. He really disliked this at first, but we started working on writing, workbooks and scissor work for five minutes at a time, increasing seat work by increments of five minutes over a long period of time.

As he got older, he was able to sit for longer periods of time. We tried several kindergarten curricula until I found one that lit a fire under him. We tried Seton kindergarten, secular resources like the Big Book of Kindergarten Learning from wallyworld, and some other secular resources. I did a lot of research for a curriculum that might have more thorough coverage, old fashioned incremental learning.

I noticed that the other resources we used went too fast, and there was a big jump between kindergarten and first grade which would have left him behind, floundering and frustrated. So I took a chance and ordered some kindergarten workbooks from Rod & Staff. They don't have an official kindergarten, so they are called preschool materials. He loved them, and finally he was looking forward to school.

I suddenly felt a great weight lift off my shoulders! Finally, some interest on his part and progress. It was no longer a herculean effort to teach and to learn. I started to believe we could really do this homeschooling thing, and that my son would learn and catch up with his speech. We had a way now. Thank you Lord.

I found the Mennonite curriculum such as Rod & Staff, Christian Light Education and Pathway Readers to progress incrementally at an even pace, and to have thorough coverage with no leaps or gaps. It's extremely integrated, and the development of vocabulary is emphasized. The flow is brilliant, a lot of thought was put into these curricula. Without these Mennonite curricula, my son would not have progressed as well in overcoming his severe speech delays. He's developed a real love of reading now, and is an advanced reader.

We used the Rod & Staff Learning to Read curriculum and the Christian Light Learning to Read Curriculum at the same time, alternating days with them. The pairing was perfect, and the coverage doubled. We also used the Climbing to Good English later on, and Pathway Readers. We used Christian Light Education readers for first grade, and their second grade science and third grade social studies. We haven't used Christian Light Education since then because my son prefers the Rod & Staff, and so do I because there is little if any doctrine which contradict our Catholic faith.

We are currently using fourth and fifth grade Rod & Staff curriculum, Climbing to Good English 4(a good summer bridge or extra practice workbook) and Pathway Readers 4. We also use Catholic resources for reading, history and religion, but Rod & Staff is our core curriculum.

Links to these homeschool curriculum providers are on my sidebar.

Part II will cover what we did in the early years, ages three through six. I'll discuss the details of concentrated play and other ideas for speech help at home.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Homemade Dye and Ink

Today the family went to a local museum and ds went through an interactive Jamestown exhibit. This was our second time through, and it's loosely themed on the television show Survivor. You get a bead board and make life choices about 17th century living(first landing). It was fun, and the children learn quite a bit about what was needed to survive in the New World. At the end you add up your beds, and based on your score, you find out if you survived or not. Some of the questions were based on what was needed for making everyday objects.

Easy Fun School had some interesting links for homemade dyes and inks made in Colonial times(and before).

Coffee Dye

Cranberry Dye

Homemade Ink from Berries

Homemade Ink from Nuts

Marigold Dye

Mustard Dye

Purple Cabbage Dye

Spinach Dye

Tea Dye

Walnut Shell Dye

Fun and frugal.

Printable Grocery Price Book

Here is a nice printable page for creating a price book to track grocery prices. My husband made something similar himself with excel, and we use it every time we shop. This has helped us keep a lid on expenses, and ensure we are finding bargains.

In addition, we shop with this list that has many of the ingredients needed for cooking with the More-With-Less Cookbook. It keeps our grocery store trips short, and inexpensive. We are less likely to impulse shop with a list. As an added benefit, it has helped with waste. We are able to take an inventory before we shop, and use things up before buying more.

I've mentioned this before, but we are still using the Allrecipes.com ingredients search when trying to find recipes to use up specific ingredients. What a budget saver this has been! It also helps with meal boredom...sometimes we get tired of the same meals. Allrecipes.com has helped us mix it up, as well as use it up.

See more tips at Frugal Fridays.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Make a Quilt From Your Old Clothes

Debbie over at Homemaking Dreams made a quilt from her son's jeans and other clothing items. Do click on the picture(on her blog) and take a closer look, it's so nicely done.

She has linked the free pattern and tutorial. The pattern is called Gentleman's Quarters. My grandmother had handmade quilts on all the guest beds at her home, and they were very similar to this pattern. It brings back pleasant memories seeing this particular pattern.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Frugal Wardrobes: Keeping Clothing Costs Down

(Me in the dark ages) ;0

When I worked outside the home, I was required to wear dresses or skirts most of the time. I had to wear a suit jacket when I appeared in court. Even so, I was on a budget. My salary was not huge, nor would it ever be as an adult community corrections counselor. I had to learn to dress professionally on a dime.

I learned to mix and match in order to stretch my wardrobe, and I went for washable fabrics to cut down on dry cleaning. Some suits, particularly winter suits needed dry cleaning. I used washable sweat shields which you pin into the underarms to stretch the time between cleanings. I hand washed and ironed my silk blouses(shells).

I think the first thing I did before buying a wardrobe was to find some basic colors which suited my hair color and skin tone. Back in the early 1980's I had my colors done with Color Me Beautiful. My colors are Autumn tones: not true colors, but any color which has a warm brownish cast. They give you a little swatch booklet which recommends favorable wardrobe anchor and accessory colors for your season type. With this information, I picked skirts and jackets in solid or mostly solid colors in my anchor colors. Then I paired these with matching plain and patterned shells/blouses and dresses which would match the jackets. I used the accessory color pallet for selecting my dresses and tops. This meant that I had more than one outfit, they were all interchangeable. Some days I wore the dress with a jacket, others a skirt with the jacket, switching up the tops from day to day. Each day I could mix and match the skirts, jackets and dresses. Accessories helped as well. Changing out jewelry or adding a scarf can really stretch your wardrobe.

Because I had a few basic signature colors for my wardrobe, I was able to keep my shoe collection to a minimum. I had basic pumps in black, taupe, creme and blue. I bought bags of discounted pantyhose from the Leggs outlet by mail. I always had a few bags of misty taupe, mushroom , sheer black ribbed tight-like hose for winter, and the ivory or off-white for summer.

My wardrobe was not trendy or high fashion, but classic and professional. It was frugal and efficient. It never took me much time to choose an outfit and get dressed, everything worked together.

After I left my job in 2001 to stay home with the children, I had to get even more thrifty. I began to shop the thrift stores and found that I could get name brand items in excellent condition for a few dollars a piece. I've been doing this ever since, and it has really helped us keep expenses down. If I never mentioned it, no one would know we purchase used clothes.

Knowing color theory, I did my family's colors, and I shop for them off their color pallets. I also use what I learned from my working wardrobe, and try to find clothing and shoes which mix and match. This really cuts down on waste with mistakes. I get it right the first time.

Two helpful links for determining your colors:

Color Me Beautiful Quiz

Colours & Scents

I was looking around the house last night thinking about this post, and noticed that without even realizing it, I had decorated my home in my color pallet. So it carries over to other areas of your life, and makes for a relaxing and pleasing environment. I pieced the home together with thrifted items over a long period of time, so it really was unconscious decorating, but perfectly pulled together for my tastes.

Frugal Upstate's post from last week inspired me to write about my frugal clothing experiences after reading: Compiling a Frugal Work Wardrobe-A Guest Post. She has some excellent advice for keeping down clothing expenses, and lists the Tightwad Gazette's nine piece clothing formula.

And Sometimes Tea asks her readers some questions about wardrobe systems. She is searching for versatility in an area that has a mild climate most of the year.

She writes, "I'd love to have a System when it comes to clothes, and many of the moms I know feel the same way. I'd love to have three-quarters of my wardrobe be as appropriate for teaching in my living room as for going shopping, going out to dinner at a casual restaurant, and even, with moderate accessorization, for going to Mass on Sunday. I would also love to have three-quarters of my wardrobe reflect the fact that I live in a state where three-quarters of the year has approximately the same climate. Then, the remaining fourth of my clothing would also be divided: a couple of extreme climate options like a corduroy dress or fleece sweater for the small amount of winter we have would make up one half, and those dressier options for special Masses (like Christmas or Easter) or family occasions would make up the other."

She asks:

1. Do you have a wardrobe "System"? If you could, what would it be?

Continuing my train of thought with color theory(beginning of post), now that I work at home, instead of buying solid colored skirts and jackets in my anchor colors, I tend toward using my tops and jackets as anchors, and buy skirts and dresses in colorful patterns. I buy patterned dresses for Mass with interchangeable solid colored suit jackets or sweaters for chilly weather. This way I stretch a short sleeved dress into the fall, or even into winter. Suit jackets also dress up a skirt and top combo. If you buy a semi-casual longer jacket, it looks well with a dress. Short jackets with dresses look a bit awkward.

I try to choose clothing that is not overly dressy, casual or trendy. This makes a wardrobe more versatile. A simple black medium weight machine washable Old Navy polyester dress is one of my favorite pieces. I wear it to church and during the week. It is short sleeved, but I have a longish dressy sweater which lets me wear it in colder weather. I have some black ribbed tight-like Leggs pantyhose and some cute slightly trendy black leather shoes that I wear with it during the colder months. I've avoided the goth look(giggle) with my sweater which has a beaded edge. You can't go wrong with a little black dress.

2. What is the biggest problem area in your wardrobe: shirts, shoes, skirts/dresses, slacks, etc.? Do you have too many, not enough, a really hard time finding some that you like, or...?

I was having some trouble with tops, and I finally had to break down and buy retail. I look best in a V-neck, and I found some really nice semi-dressy cotton tops on sale at Wallyworld for a few dollars a piece. I bought three in different colors, and now I'm set.

3. If you woke up one morning to discover that all of your clothing items except the pajamas you were wearing and your "necessary unmentionables" had mysteriously vanished, what one item would you miss most?

Clean socks. I wear them around the house.

4. If your insurance covered mysteriously vanishing wardrobes, and you were handed a blank check to replace everything, where would you shop first, and what item would you buy?

J.C. Penny's...I like their semi-casual skirts. I like a modified A-line which has a little tailored flippiness to it.

5. What is your favorite type of accessory?

Fragrance and for dressy occasions, a string of pearls. I don't have time for a lot of accessories, but if make-up counts, I always put a little on if I leave the house.

In a nutshell - pick your main color pallet, and use this to mix and match by pairing solids with patterns. Purchase solids first, and then search for patterned pieces which match. Dresses are easiest because they are one piece. Buy short sleeved dresses to wear year round with a longish suit jacket, or dressy long sweater in colder weather.

See more tips at Works for Me Wednesday.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Fourth Grade Reading Lessons with Comprehension Questions/Free Printables

Week IV:

Click and print.

Young Benjamin Franklin

Excerpt from above story: "My son," said Mr. Franklin solemnly, "so far as it was in your
power, you have done a greater harm to the public than to the
owner of the stones. I do verily believe, Benjamin, that almost
all the public and private misery of mankind arises from a
neglect of this great truth,--that evil can produce only evil,
that good ends must be wrought out by good means."

Benjamin Franklin from The Beginner's Book of American History by D.H. Montgomery.

Waste Not Want Not

The Lion

Week IV Vocabulary List

Weeks I - III

Unless otherwise mentioned, selections are from the Revised Fourth Grade McGuffey's Reader(1920 edit.), free and in public domain.