Summer school brainstorming: special needs

All-righty then, it’s been a crashing busy week and I have so many posts and thoughts tumbling through my brain, but truly no time to sit and type them out.  But, fair warning, they are stewing….

So…in the meantime, I want to cast out a line and see what can be reeled in.I need some brainstorming help, because summer is upon us. Summer means swimming, sleeping in, boating, naps, wet beach towels, sunlight past seven, popsicles, books, movies, tomatoes, caprese salad, sleeping on the lake, cicadas, chores, afternoon booming downpours for ten minutes then done, t shirts, shorts, flip flops every day.

But summer also means I need to create multiple schedule and routine templates so my kids don’t drift into that mean-spirited snappy boredom of “not enough to do.”  Now, I’m already working on a few camps (only half day though) and we’ve plans for swimming daily if possible and I’m working up heftier chore/responsibilities etc.  But what has got me stumped a bit is the summer school work.  For most of my kids, they will have specific summer assignments sent home to prep for next fall’s classes; reading, maybe a paper.  And this isn’t the place where I want to debate all that practice, I could do a whole ‘nother post on it (but if  you must know, I used to hate all that summer work and now I think it’s great and good for them). 

But here is where I need help:  Marta.  She needs, must have, some summer school work.  Or she will lose ground. She has special needs and still her english level and vocabulary comprehension is very low.  Her reading is improving, which is great, maybe around first grade almost…though the comprehension of the english vocabulary she is reading isn’t there.  This all makes it a bit jumbly to figure out what will be a good, gentle, encouraging way to have her be able to some independent work this summer and also be challenged enough to make progress, overall and/or in her english.   Almost all of her homework from school had to be done with me sitting next to her, helping her through the phonics worksheets and such, she did better with the math.  I would hope to be able to have a combo of helping and also independent.  She is not a big reader, despite having a nook color to excite her and many many books, of all types, around the house.  The problem is finding books that are at her level that are not too “babyish.”  But the upshot is she must have schoolwork, daily, or she will lose ground.

I know, I was a homeschooler forever.  But I wasn’t a homeschooler of kids with cognitive disability and thus am a newbie in the resources area for that.  So, any of you teachers or mom’s with kids who learn differently or have different abilities /cognition….any ideas? Resources? What’s worked for you? I will be heading to Parent Teacher Store probably today, but I need a plan.  Marta {no, all of them, it’s true} function(s) happiest with a routine in place and so I need to get that summer work routine happening and figured out, now, so we can have some structure to the days.  It helps make the whole house happier, for all the kids and mom. So….

  • Resources for summer school work?
  • What’s worked great for you during summer?
  • What did you love for your kids who are working behind their age level?
  • What did you NOT love?
  • What do you think she might love or I might?
  • Where did you get it, make it, find it?
  • Any other tips?

It’s summer! I want to focus on relaxing some, reading, swimming, eating fresh berries and tomatoes from the farm stand or garden, some personal projects (painting, quilt?), hanging with my kids without the bored squabbling.  Is that too much to hope for? I think it should not be…, this is my fast friday beating of the bushes, virtually.  Little help?

13 thoughts on “Summer school brainstorming: special needs

  1. Way to go, Momma!! Always looking for a way to help your kiddos do well and function. 🙂 I don’t have any spectacular answers. We are in the same boat with one of ours. However the English language isn’t new to her. And she’s brilliant in all other ways, except being able to learn to read easily. It’s been a CRAZY year here. Wish we were closer! Anyway, one thought. How would she respond to “reading” to your littles. Thinking maybe you only have one under her reading level at this point? (Gabey baby?) Then she can read books at her level (ability) and so many children’s books are set up wonderfully for that repetition and word families. She’d be reading with a dual purpose, but only needs you to focus on the one purpose of “helping out by reading to ‘little'”! 🙂 Just a thought. Might be a great thing to add to the chore chart. 🙂

    We do the reverse of this because our 6 yr old needs TONS of practice and I get SICK OF HEARING SAME STUPID STORY over and over and over and over and OVER! So she now reads also to the teen brothers. 🙂 They are great and go along like it’s a whole new story to them. 🙂

  2. We use Time4Learning here with our two that need extra help. One, like your Marta, has difficulty with the language. I first heard it suggested from another mom of an adopted older child. I hesitated, and now wish I hadn’t waited. Time4Learning is a great fit because it’s independent for the most part, and you can go up and down a grade in any subject. My kids both love it!!

  3. We use Time4Learning here. It was first suggested to me by a mom who also adopted older children. I hesitated to use it, and now wish I would’ve started earlier. My one struggles with language, much like your Marta. The great thing about Time4Learning is that you can choose what grade to place your child in and can do both grades around the grade you choose. You can also switch grades completely at any time. It is an almost completely independent program that is so fun! My kids both love it and are learning so quickly! 🙂

  4. Let’s see. I like doing projects that take all disciplines and roll it into just one topic that is exciting for her. I will use Manny as an example. Manny loves bridges. We have watched documentaries about bridges. We do a craft, making a bridge. We learn about all different types of bridges by reading books. He has his own simple books about them and we have very technical, adult books which you think he would hate, but he loves to listen to all the jargon about bridges. He does a writing project about bridges. We walk over many bridges. Math and science are introduced through the discussion of cantelevers and suspension…..etc. We have talked endlessly about the history of bridges in our area (we live a few miles from the Hudson). That’s my example.

  5. No expert here, but ideas that I’ll through at you and I’m sure some are “duh” ideas.
    -I like the suggestion of Marta reading to the younger ones below her level.
    – As one form of punishment, my older children have to read to the younger ones when they are mean to them. (And don’t worry, it hasn’t made them hate reading. They are voracious readers and have long ago passed me on all accounts.)
    *This has helped a number of my friends and family members in teaching their children who have disabilities, but maybe not for Marta???
    -What about Montessori type, hands-on, full-body learning so she takes in information with multiple senses at one time??? (sand paper letters/movable alphabet, etc.)
    -Writing Road to Reading (based on Romalda Spaldings research in teaching children/adults, ESL, delayed learners, to read, write, spell, comprehend. Very thorough, but not terribly user friendly, and Marta would certainly need adult supervision with it.
    -Books on tape
    *I have relatives who have attended his seminars and rave about him and his philosophies. They have learning disabled children as well as advanced. Maybe something on his site will catch your eye??? I think he is very big on ‘hearing’ the language so he very much likes children to be read to and to listen to great literature on CD/tape.

    God bless and hopefully you can find something to help Marta and be enjoyable for all of you this summer.

    And I’ll be emailing you in just a moment!


  6. The Adult Literacy Programs hit the “age appropriate” content for older beginning readers all the time. I know they have developed lots of “texts”, but other than asking a the library or the Union Resource center, I don’t know how to access what the books are. I gave up on German here, because the 4th and 5th year texts were not age appropriate for a 7 year old, so i am very sympathetic to the quandary.

  7. Adult Literacy Programs are run through all sorts of agencies, but in Tennessee, there is almost always a connection with a local library. I know in Portland the librarians access the services for folks who need reading help as adults. I suspect it is the same in Gallatin.

  8. Sorry I am so late to this thread…
    We like the Programmed Readers available from Phoenix Learning Resources. They are quite old and well tested. I don’t know if she would find them all that exciting content-wise, but they will take her up to 6th grade reading level (supposedly) in an easy pain-free way that is mostly self-taught. Three of my adopted children have some level of brain damage…they have all learned to read well with this system. We just use the work books, but they have some other books that you can buy to go with them.

  9. Neither of my kiddos can read at all yet. I know I am going to have similar challenges as you have with Marta when they do start. I want to start teaching them this summer, but with summer ESL during the month of June, we haven’t had time to really do any work at home on reading, without it feeling like they’re doing schoolwork all day. Hopefully we can get going in July. I have some Explode the Code, as that was recommended to me from another adoptive mom, but I don’t know how effective it is yet. I might look into some of the suggestions offered here. What did you end up with and how are you liking it?

  10. My children have generally spent time in the summer volunteering at a nursing home, (with an aide to accompany them.) They play cards, help with the Bingo, and join in the musical activities, (therefore encouraging the elderly to get up and participate themselves.)The elderly love the interaction, and the children really feel like they are doing something wonderful. When my children stopped at the end of last summer, i received a call from the nursing home asking them to come back from time to time because they were missed so much…


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