5 Pitfalls to Avoid in Teaching Your Own

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By Maggie Dail, M.A. Learning Specialist

Homeschoolers that I work with and encounter conscientiously teach their own with the greatest of goals. While not all, but many of these families also face learning challenges in their children. When we work together to determine the missing pieces in the learning process or set up an academic plan, parents begin hopeful, but often times become overwhelmed and fall into a number of pitfalls. Sometimes parents set themselves up to fail when they adopt another person or school’s expectations. Here are some that I have observed:

  1. Forgetting that character matters. I have a little poster on the wall above my desk that lists about 31 “Important Things That Tests Can’t Measure” (All About Learning poster.) I administer many assessments, but they do not give the full picture of a child. We must keep things like determination, helpfulness and self-control as priorities.
  2. Binding yourself to someone else’s schedule. When possible, come up with a schedule that fits your family. If you homeschool all of your children, you do not have to think about a school schedule. Studies show that a schedule that is not too strict or too loose provides the best academic results. Your “perfect schedule” will not mimic that of another, but will be yours.
  3. Sticking to a nine-month a year academic schedule. While this must be a family decision, I highly recommend considering a year around program with shorter breaks. Yes, we need breaks, but THREE MONTHS? School textbooks typically spend the first 4- 6 weeks of school reviewing from last year. Why? Because people do not retain new information for three months. Taking this much time off at a time proves even more challenging for those with learning difficulties. For those working with us for Brain Training, we recommend shorter breaks throughout the year. Ask yourself, “What are the things I continue doing consistently throughout the year even if I am ‘on vacation’?” My list includes: personal hygiene, eating, sleeping, daily time of prayer and Bible reading, activities that I use to keep my mind alert as I age (word games, world language lessons, puzzles). One thing that should be on the list, but it is a struggle when away from home or if I am not feeling especially great: physical therapy exercises that help maintain my joints. For your struggling learner, some Brain Training should be on that list. If you choose or must follow a nine-month schedule, be sure to find time during the summer to review the basics in math, have them read much and go on field trips.
  4. Trying to implement too many new things at one time. When you add something new to your schedule, you want to be consistent, so that means you need to add slowly. We must remind those working on Brain Training to add some activities each day or so until all of the recommended activities have been added. Even then, it may seem like too much, so we recommend that they work through the whole plan evenly. For instance, if they do not complete the whole plan in a day, pick up where they left off the next day so that within the week the whole plan will have been completed 2 or 3 times rather than 5 times.
  5. Expecting to fulfill difficult academic goals without providing the proper foundation. I do not believe homeschoolers keep their children home from school because of laziness. They want the best for their children so they set high expectations. Often, at the expense of building that foundation, they keep demanding their children succeed in the academics. Believe it or not, children who follow through consistently on their Brain Training activities and spend less time on their academics, actually test higher than those who spend more time on the academics and barely get to the foundational activities.

As you approach the holidays, the summer or any break think about how you can maintain progress rather than find your child struggling to get back on track or losing ground.

Preparing for the New Homeschool School Year: Missing Pieces in Elementary Math Curriculum

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As your new homeschool year approaches (or has arrived) you may still need some help for a math curriculum that works for your elementary aged child. You need to remember that there are three areas of math to cover: facts, computation and concepts. If math has already become a struggle for your child, then you will especially want to break math down into these three areas. Spread math over the course of the day with short sessions covering these areas in separate sessions.

 

  1. Math Facts – Math facts are primarily a function of auditory memory so be sure you present this new information to your child auditorily as well visually. Whether you have a full math curriculum or find materials that cover the different parts, you must include this in your child’s day.

 

My Best Recommendation for Learning Math FactsRapid Recall System 

 

  1. Math Computation – At a different time of the day work on computation skills. Computation is primarily a function of visual memory so I recommend 75% visual instruction. That is you do three problems for your child as he watches. You say only a few words to identify steps as you go along. Then your child does the fourth one. Repeat for the duration of the session of say, 10 minutes. You start with simple addition and work up to long division, fractions etc. If the child doesn’t remember a math fact, tell them so that the process of computation is learned without interruption. You work on the math facts during a separate time. You can get the computation problems from any math book, but if you just want to pay for the computation problems, get a book that has only those problems in it.

 

My Best Recommenation for Learning Math Computation: Remedia Press – Straight Forward Math and Key to….. (Decimals, Percents, Measurement etc.)

 

  1. Math Concepts – The first two items are the nuts and bolts of math. Concepts are how the basics are applied to real life. If you want a regular curriculum, look into Math U See, Singapore Math and Right Start Mathematics. They cover the whole spectrum of math in a fresh way, but it makes it harder to separate out the three parts and concentrate on one at a time. There are a host of math games available that apply these math concepts in an interesting way. You can spend big bucks. Perhaps a better way is a book of games that you can play as a family. My best recommendation is actually a series of books, but the original is the best overall for K-8 math games. Family Math arranges the games in sections according to the different math concepts. Each game has an objective, instructions and sometimes a page that serves as a game board. You may need to add some household items for game pieces. Each game is labeled for one or more of the three age groups within K-8.

 

My Best Recommendation for Learning Math Concepts:  Family Math

Bonus Recommendation for Mental Math / Auditory Skills:  Verbal Math Lessons Series

 

Since math skills build on each other, home educators find it helpful to use a “Scope and Sequence” for navigating through math. Downloadable lists of skills can be found on the Internet. By including math facts, computation and concepts you can prepare your children for Algebra, Geometry and beyond.

Preparing for the New Homeschool Year: Record-keeping

FA-Online-logo-w-tag-1Whether you  homeschool in Washington state or in another state…think about record-keeping. 

By Maggie Dail, M.A.

I have often asked graduates of Able to Teach, a state-approved parent-qualifying course for those wanting to teach their own children in Washington, “Based on your understanding of the homeschool law, what records do you plan on keeping?”

Generally, I get parts or all of the following:

  1. Copy of Declaration of Intent
  2. Copy of the Able to Teach certificate
  3. Planner / portfolio that reflect the time spent on the 11 subjects (K-8) or graduation requirements (9-12).
  4. Annual Assessments

Since the only document that the law requires you to submit is the Declaration of Intent (or maybe in your state nothing is required), one might ask, “Why keep records at all?” Here are my answers:

First, and most importantly for yourself:

  • To help you plan and assess how you are doing.
  • To help you on one of those “bad days”- when you or someone else is “beating you up”- (you know the kind of day that every parent has whether you are homeschooling or not).

 

Second, it is always better to have records if any one of the following occasions mentioned below occurs. Do not let this scare you, because if you are ready you will have the records to show the appropriate authorities (not just anyone who comes to your door).

  • CPS – Even if a well-meaning neighbor makes a call with erroneous information, CPS is required to investigate. If you have records it will more than likely be a brief investigation.
  • Custody battles – Sadly, in my experience, this is the most frequent request for records.
  • Homeschool child is in trouble with the law.

 

Finally, transferring to a school. It is always the receiving school that decides the requirements for enrollment and what they will accept.

  • Elementary /Middle School – usually children are placed according to age, but they may want records.
  • High School – Credits and graduation requirements now matter. (State Approved Private Extension programs like Academy Northwest, which is also accredited, help with transcripts, diplomas and so much more.)
  • College Entrance – varies with college – survey your desired colleges as soon as possible. See pages 53,54 in Homeschooling the High Schooler Available through Homeschool Resources Also see: www.academynorthwest.org

I also encourage parents to consider having a conversation with their children about their “grade level and school.” While Washington State’s truancy laws (Becca Laws) do not target homeschoolers, occasionally they might be mistaken as truants. Older children may be out of their home during school hours if they are part of homeschool activities or even work. More than likely any one questioning them will be satisfied with “I homeschool” at the least or “here is a copy of my declaration of intent” at the most.

Parents may want to talk with their children to be sure they understand that homeschooling is legal and a good choice for their family. Also, if the child is working at a different grade level for different subjects they may not know their grade. For the most part it doesn’t really matter, but if someone asks a child, “Where do you go to school?” or “What grade are you in?” they will be more confident if they know how to answer.

There is no one right way to keep records! You can keep what is most helpful to you and that reflects that you follow the homeschool law in your state. Happy Homeschooling!

 

Maggie Dail has taught for over 40 years and worked with homeschoolers full time since 1994. She has been teaching Family Academy’s Able to Teach, parent qualifying course since 2003. www.familyacademy.org

New Story Coming Soon – Jumping the Hurdles – Jessi Learns Math

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We are working on the final editing and artwork for our new release coming this summer!  Along with the story (Rounding the Bases – Chris Learns to Read) that is already in print, we are adding two new stories in this new e-book: Stories from Unlocking Learning Potential.  In Jumping the Hurdles – Jessi Learns Math, Jessica Marie Torres, a high school sophomore, recounts her life which centers on her love for horses and struggles with math through a homeschool assignment to write her story.

New Release: Stories from Unlocking Learning Potential —Coming this Summer!

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Back in 2006, this book was released as our first published book!

This story represents many of our clients who struggle with learning to read.

Chris, a middle schooler, shines on the baseball field and with his teammates but struggles with reading. His parents try to work with the teachers in his school but in the end realize they need to take a more personal approach. With the help of other homeschooling families and with a neurodevelopmentalist from ICAN, we read of  Rounding the Bases: Chris Learns to Read. This story presents the model used by most ICAN neurodevelopmentalists in working with their clients.  http://www.icando.org/

This and two new stories will be released this summer as an e-book available through Smashwords, Amazon and our website: www.unlockinglearningpotential.net 

 

Annual Assessments for Homeschoolers

CFND Pencils LogoBy Maggie Dail, Learning Specialist

 

Many homeschooling parents begin to think about the annual assessments for their children at this time of the year. In around 20 states these tests are required by their homeschool laws. Washington State is one of those and allows for two types – standardized and non-test assessments.

 

  • Standardized tests – While some are administered in online formats, they have traditionally been administered by having the student fill in the bubbles on an answer sheet. They are then normed and standardized meaning that they tell you how your child compares to a representative 99 others. Further, they are to be administered according to set rules and times.
  • Non-test Assessments – In the Washington State homeschool law these are not defined per se, but they are to be administered by a certified teacher currently working in the field of education.  Since the assessments are not defined, qualified test administrators use a variety of measures – some more subjective and others more objective.

 

Whether your state requires annual assessments or not, you can gain valuable information from these experiences. Other than “the homeschool law requires assessments” these may prompt you to have your children tested:

  • Assess a starting point in your homeschooling (given before you begin or early on).   Using the same instrument of assessment before and after provides comparable scores.
  • Assess whether the curriculum, learning styles or methods you are using are helping your child learn.
  • Provide preparation for your child to take college entrance tests in the future.
  • Provide objectives or ideas for study for the next year, semester or month.
  • Provides a “third party” assessment of the academic process
  • Identifies areas that the child may need some additional help.

 

Unlocking Learning Potential provides non-test assessments for homeschoolers in any state via video conferencing:

 

Non-Test Assessment – NTA (qualifies for WA State homeschoolers)

 

  • PIAT-R (Peabody Individual Achievement Test-Revised) Given orally – General Information, Reading Recognition, Reading Comprehension, Math, and Spelling.
  • Optional – evaluation of a one-page writing sample – corrected with criteria that you receive along with an instructional lesson for one area of concern.
  • Neurodevelopmental Screening (auditory and visual processing; dominance).
  • A brief consultation with parents.
  • NTA Report.
  • Fulfills requirement for annual homeschool assessment in Washington State.
  • Standard Price – $60.00
  • Optional: Writing Sample Assessment – $25.00
  • Optional: Learning Style Analysis – $25.00
  • Especially good for younger students and those who have a difficulty in taking tests.
  • Time: About 1 ½ hour for the student and time with the parent to discuss results and answer questions.

 

In addition, diagnostic assessments are available using KeyMath.

 

KeyMath-R serves as a supplement to the Brain Training Assessment or Non-Test Assessment or as a stand-alone diagnostic math test for pre-high school skills. Success for high school math depends on a good foundation.  Cost: $60.00 Time: About 1 ½ to 2 hours.

 

If especially interested in assessing math, but want this to be the annual assessment, spelling and reading can be added.

 

Should you suspect a learning challenge, the annual assessment could be turned into a:

 

Brain Training Assessment – BTA

 

Includes all of the Non-Test Assessment, plus with parent completed forms, the Learning Specialist designs an Individualized Neurodevelopmental Plan (list of activities to stimulate the brain to encourage development) to complete at home with our support.  Cost: $150

 

Depending on the results of the NTA or the BTA and the goals of the parents, families may be offered access to one or more of our professional accounts with Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord or Reading Assistant, HearBuilder and Sensory Enrichment Therapy.  Also, parents may choose to add Brain Training as ongoing support provided via video conferencing.

 

Another option for determining abilities that need to be developed Unlocking Learning Potential provides Structure of Intellect online assessment, training modules, and support.

 

Structure of Intellect Assessment (SOI)

 

Dr. J.P. Guilford designed an assessment that decreased the attrition rate of dropouts out of pilots during WWII. Drs.  Mary and Robert Meeker further developed this model of assessing and training different learning abilities.

 

Assessment Cost: $150.00

Training Materials and Support: $100.00

 

For more information regarding our services:

 

https://www.unlockinglearningpotential.net/services-1

 

We are currently scheduling through the end of June.

Annual Assessments for Homeschoolers -Maggie Dail, Learning Specialist

 

Important Things Tests Can't Measure

Many homeschooling parents begin to think about the annual assessments for their children at this time of the year. In around 20 states these tests are required by their homeschool laws. Washington State is one of those and allows for two types – standardized and non-test assessments.

  • Standardized tests – While some are administered in online formats, they have traditionally been administered by having the student fill in the bubbles on an answer sheet. They are then normed and standardized meaning that they tell you how your child compares to a representative 99 others. Further, they are to be administered according to set rules and times.
  • Non-test Assessments – In the Washington State homeschool law these are not defined per se, but they are to be administered by a certified teacher currently working in the field of education.  Since the assessments are not defined, qualified test administrators use a variety of measures – some more subjective and others more objective.

Whether your state requires annual assessments or not, you can gain valuable information from these experiences. Other than “the homeschool law requires assessments” these may prompt you to have your children tested:

  • Assess a starting point in your homeschooling (given before you begin or early on).  Using the same instrument of assessment before and after provides comparable scores.
  • Assess whether the curriculum, learning styles or methods you are using are helping your child learn.
  • Provide preparation for your child to take college entrance tests in the future.
  • Provide objectives or ideas for study for the next year, semester or month.
  • Provides a “third party” assessment of academic process
  • Identifies areas that the child may need some additional help.

Unlocking Learning Potential provides non-test assessments for homeschoolers in any state via video conferencing:

Non-Test Assessment – NTA (qualifies for WA State homeschoolers)

  • PIAT-R (Peabody Individual Achievement Test-Revised) Given orally – General Information, Reading Recognition, Reading Comprehension, Math, and Spelling.
  • Optional – evaluation of a one-page writing sample – corrected with criteria that you receive along with an instructional lesson for one area of concern.
  • Neurodevelopmental Screening (auditory and visual processing; dominance).
  • Brief consultation with parents.
  • NTA Report
  • Especially good for younger students and those who have a difficulty in taking tests.
  • Fulfills requirement for annual homeschool assessment in Washington State.
  • Standard Price – $60.00
  • Optional: Writing Sample Assessment – $25.00
  • Optional: Learning Style Analysis – $25.00
  • Time: About 1 ½ hour for the student plus time with the parent to discuss results and answer questions.

In addition, diagnostic assessments are available using KeyMath.

KeyMath-R serves as a supplement to the Brain Training Assessment or Non-Test Assessment or as a stand-alone diagnostic math test for pre-high school skills. Success for high school math depends on a good foundation.  Cost: $60.00  Time: About 1 ½ to 2 hours.

Should you suspect a learning challenge, the annual assessment could be turned into a:

Brain Training Assessment – BTA

Includes all of the Non-Test Assessment, plus with parent completed forms, the Learning Specialist designs an Individualized Neurodevelopmental Plan (list of activities to stimulate the brain to encourage development) to complete at home with our support. Cost: $150

Depending on the results of the NTA or the BTA and the goals of the parents, families may be offered access to one or more of our professional accounts with SpellingCity, HearBuilder, and Sensory Enrichment Therapy.  Also, parents may choose to add Brain Training as ongoing support provided via video conferencing.

Another option for determining abilities that need to be developed Unlocking Learning Potential provides Structure of Intellect online assessment, training modules, and support.

Structure of Intellect Assessment (SOI)

Dr. J.P. Guilford designed an assessment that decreased the attrition rate of dropouts out of pilots during WWII. Drs.  Mary and Robert Meeker further developed this model of assessing and training different learning abilities.

Assessment Cost: $150.00

Training Materials and Support: $100.00

For more information regarding our services:

https://www.unlockinglearningpotential.net/services-1

 

 

Overcoming Learning Challenges – Online Course for Homeschooling Parents

Vera Bill Connie Maggie 1949

As a young student, I struggled with my learning. During elementary school, I failed Arithmetic and Writing. Teachers thought I wasn’t trying!  I thought I was trying!  Yet, my grades and teacher comments told a different story. In those days, teachers pretty much wrote their evaluation on the report cards without worrying about hurting a student’s feelings.

My father had high expectations for me and encouraged me to keep working at it.  Both of my parents motivated me to keep trying. I didn’t have any labels or diagnosis; I was just expected to learn. I did.  By the time I finished high school I had achieved all A’s and Honor Roll. In college, I got a D in a first-semester class, but by the time I graduated I was on Dean’s List. Being on the Honor Roll and Dean’s List or even earning a Master’s degree in Special Education did not mean that learning came easily for me.

All of these academic struggles led me to work with students who struggle. Since 1994 I have been working with homeschooling families. Finding tools to unlock learning potential in students has driven me to where I am today. Working with Family Academy Online as the Director and the Unlocking Learning Potential as the Learning Specialist I work with families who homeschool and those whose children face learning challenges.

Today we know more about how children develop and learn. This understanding guides us in helping our children overcome learning challenges.  In our work, we offer a variety of services that fit the needs of different families.  We think of these services as Keys on our keyring in our mission of Unlocking Learning Challenges. One of these keys is an online course for parents whose mission it is to help their children in Overcoming Learning Challenges.

 

For more information watch this video:

Visit our website:  http://www.unlockinglearningpotential.net

How Research Leads to Solutions for Struggling Learners

Have you or a loved one received a diagnosis of “developmental dyslexia” or “dyslexia”? Have you or a loved one struggled with learning to read – no matter what methods and curricula have been used? Research leads us to more answers to our questions and more solutions for those who struggle.

Image result for images of books and reading

How would you feel knowing your student would have more tools to succeed in life? What would it be like for him to learn fascinating information on his own? What would it be like to be carried off to a faraway time and place by reading a great story?

While many have considered dyslexia to be a combination of two deficits, the more current view, based on new research, providers believe that multiple deficits contribute to a diagnosis of “developmental dyslexia” will prove more helpful in helping those who struggle with reading.  Belief that “weaknesses in either the visual (rapid automatized naming -RAN) or the auditory (phonological awareness-PA) can cause dyslexia has led teachers to address these two areas.  Those with both deficits experienced severe difficulties in reading. (Wolf in Journal of Educational Psychology, 1999)

Now, more and more look to these areas and some additional areas: genetics, environmental, and perceptive/cognitive differences.  With the use of fMRIs we can see what is going on inside the human brain.  In a recent webinar, neuroscientist, Dr. Martha Burns, reported new research that confirms how these factors interact to present different kinds and degrees of learning challenges.

Image result for images - brain scans

Not surprisingly the research shows that reading and language share specific parts of the brain that includes both the visual and auditory areas. While searching for the cause and effect relationship within genetic factors, researchers learned that the brain of an infant show signs of genetic causes of learning challenges discovered later. In 2017, Gaab published findings that 50% of children with a sibling or parent with dyslexia were likely to also receive a diagnosis. This number rose to 68% in identical twins.

Finding the underlying cause leads us to specific strategies for the individual since all of these factors combine in different ways.  At Unlocking Learning Potential / Family Academy Online we address reading challenges using the neurodevelopmental approach ( www.unlockinglearningpotential.net) as well as with Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant. Dr. Martha Burns, of Scientific Learning, says that Scientific Learning programs paired with an effective curriculum provide the best outcome for our children.

My name is Z.C. I began working with the learning specialist at Unlocking Learning Potential in 2009. By 2011 I could see how I had grown tremendously with my education and learning.  With the neurodevelopmental evaluation, I found out that I was far below my grade level academically. At first, I thought the activities were silly, futile and would not work, but as I kept doing them I started noticing the big differences in every area of my learning. I could read faster, comprehend more, my vocabulary increased, and my memory improved.” Z.C. graduated from high school in 2011.

Watch this video to learn more about these scientifically based solutions to learning challenges. Plus, learn how you can unlock your child’s learning and reading abilities.

https://youtu.be/5BmNPJ9KdSo

Webinar: Overcoming Learning Challenges – Live- May 18 at 6:00 pm MT

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Free E-Book with purchase of an Unlocking Learning Potential Service.

Free shipping and discounted price on final print copies of
Rounding the Bases – Chris Learns to Read!

Other discounts offered in Webinar: Overcoming Learning Challenges

Learn how you can help your loved one overcome learning challenges!

Join us for this live webinar:  Thursday, May 18 at 6:00 pm Mountain Time

We will be on at 5:30 and begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

Feel free to invite others.

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/180817637

Or iPhone one-tap (US Toll): +16465588656,180817637# or +14086380968,180817637#

Or Telephone:
Dial: +1 646 558 8656 (US Toll) or +1 408 638 0968 (US Toll)
Meeting ID: 180 817 637
International numbers available: https://zoom.us/zoomconference?m=UN7xqYWmwy4hxOIxVRgf_76cwbJxYYKv

  Check out Maggie’s E-Books