Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fill in the Blank

My daughter and I had a good bit of fun today as we played a few fill in the blank games. O.K., here is the truth, I was playing the games and she walked in on me. She said, “Oh, those are easy.” Well, that was grounds for a challenge. The competition started. We played middle school geometry first. I got 9 out of 10 and she got all 10. Next we played 10 Largest U.S. Cities. I missed one and she missed two. Finally, we played 10 Largest U.S. States. We both got them all correct.

Games are a fun way to academically engage your child without it being too much like work. Friendly competition makes it even more fun. Since back-to-school is just around the corner, the games are a great way to find out areas you might need to fine tune a little. I think we need to work on U.S. cities!

Here is a list of Which Word? or Fill in the Blank games you might find fun to play.

Circus Words

10 Largest US Cities

Treasure Island

3rd-4th Gr. Sound Alikes

Capitonyms

Middle School Geometry

5th-6th Gr. Sound Alikes

The Black Stallion

Charlotte's Web

Upper Grade Sound Alikes

Dinosaurs

10 Largest US States

Science

Harry Potter Words

Leave a comment telling me which games you and/or your child played. Which was your favorite?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Online Writing Tutor

The thought of teaching writing scares many a homeschool parent. It doesn't have to. Teaching writing can be broken down into manageable bites. These small bites remove the dread and fear from what is otherwise an overwhelming task.

Sometimes it is not that teaching writing is overwhelming, to many it is simply too time consuming and frustrating. Writing is a process that includes much time spent re-doing over and over...editing. Beginning with simple sentence writing is key. Once the student understands how to write a solid sentence, he can move on to more complex sentences and then the paragraph. 

There are lots of ways to incorporate writing into your everyday life. Here are some ideas to get your student started in a nonthreatening way:

  • Write the grocery list
  • Write a thank you letter
  • Write reasons for getting a larger allowance
  • Write a pen pal
  • Answer an editorial in the newspaper
  • Write a fan letter
  • Write a poem
  • Write the dinner menu
  • Write captions for comics you draw
  • Keep a journal
Another wonderful idea for teaching writing is to use an online writing tutor. Many times the student will listen to someone else much better than they will listen to their parent. The use of a tutor takes pressure off the parent. It is not always easy to critique your child's writing. You might be too hard or too easy. 

Don't be afraid to seek outside help for your student. It doesn't mean you are a failure, on the contrary, it shows that you care about your student. After all, not every subject is fun to teach. 





Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Educational Songs and Videos

Isn't is funny the way we can remember the words to songs, yet remembering something we studied yesterday seems to fade into the abyss? Educational songs and videos are a great way to not only learn new material, but it is also a super fun way to reniforce what your child is currently learning, or learned in the past. Lyrics just seem to stick with you. Watching a video tends to make the material more relevant than just reading text in a book. School can be fun you know!

If you are working on keyboarding skills, spelling, health, geography, phonics, science, math, literature, vocabulary, logic skills, art, music...online games are definitely worth checking out. Most reputable sites such as Learning Games for Kids, offer quality educational games, videos, and songs that are far from being fluff, and they are free!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Educational Songs and Videos

Isn't is funny the way we can remember the words to songs, yet remembering something we studied yesterday seems to fade into the abyss? Educational songs and videos are a great way to not only learn new material, but it is also a super fun way to reniforce what your child is currently learning, or learned in the past. Lyrics just seem to stick with you. Watching a video tends to make the material more relevant than just reading text in a book. School can be fun you know!

If you are working on keyboarding skills, spelling, health, geography, phonics, science, math, literature, vocabulary, logic skills, art, music...online games are definitely worth checking out. Most reputable sites such as Learning Games for Kids, offer quality educational games, videos, and songs that are far from being fluff, and they are free!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Learning to Read and Central Auditory Processing Disorder

Do you remember the first book you read? I do. I loved reading the Dick and Jane series even if it was a sight word reader. I loved the characters and the pictures. While I'm not a total fan of sight words, they do have their place for many kids who are learning to read. My daughter has hyperacusis, dyslexia and CAPD, so sight word reading is what worked for her. I personally believe in a healthy blend of sight words and phonics for most kids.

Extensive work with phonics does work for many children who have dyslexia, but if your child is like mine, dyslexia was not her only challenge. Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD), also known as APD, is a complex problem and it certainly made my daughter's task of learning to read simply excruciating. Trying was not her problem, hearing and processing sounds was her problem. Her ears worked fine and her brain worked fine, they just didn't seem to want to work together.

CAPD affects about 5% of school age kids. Kids with CAPD don't necessarily have a hearing problem per say, they just can't seem to process speech sounds very well. It is difficult to distinguish between the sounds in words. 



Here are some signals your child might have CAPD:

  • Is your child easily distracted or unusually bothered by loud or sudden noises?
  • Are noisy environments upsetting to your child?
  • Does your child's behavior and performance improve in quieter settings?
  • Does your child have difficulty following directions, whether simple or complicated?
  • Does your child have reading, spelling, writing, or other speech-language difficulties?
  • Is abstract information difficult for your child to comprehend?
  • Are verbal (word) math problems difficult for your child?
  • Is your child disorganized and forgetful?
  • Are conversations hard for your child to follow?
A diagnosis can be difficult because many of the signals seem to overlap with other difficulties such as ADD/ADHD or dyslexia.

There are five main areas of concern for kids with CAPD.
  1. Auditory Figure-Ground Problems: It can be very difficult for the child to pay attention if there is noise in the background. 
  2. Auditory Memory Problems: Remembering information like directions, lists, or study materials can be quite hard. It can be immediate ("I can't remember it now") and/or delayed ("I can't remember it when I need it for later").
  3. Auditory Discrimination Problems: The student has problems hearing the difference between words or sounds that are similar (COAT/BOAT or CH/SH). This can affect following directions, and reading, spelling, and writing skills, among others.
  4. Auditory Attention Problems: The child finds is very hard to focus or listen for any specific length of time. This makes completing work a real chore. This is one area that overlaps with ADD/ADHD.
  5. Auditory Cohesion Problems: Higher-level listening tasks are very difficult. Auditory cohesion skills — drawing inferences from conversations, understanding riddles, or comprehending verbal math problems — require heightened auditory processing and language levels. They develop best when all the other skills (levels 1 through 4 above) are intact.
While these challenges make learning difficult, it is not a death sentence. Here is what I found works best for us:
  • Reducing noise levels while my daughter works helps tremendously...no television, no music, no phone ringers, no barking dogs, and so forth. When I was still in the classroom, several of my students chose to wear ear muffs I purchased cheaply at Harbor Freight. 
  • Make sure your child looks at you when you give directions, and always have them repeat the directions back to you. Many times you will need to begin with no more than two step commands in the beginning and work up to more detailed directions with time. 
  • Always talk slowly, clearly, and a little louder than normal. 
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat!
  • Try not to use fluorescent lighting. 
  • Teach your child to take notes.
  • Implement a regular schedule. Organization and scheduling go a long way for these kids.
  • Encourage your child to wear a watch.
  • Praise them honestly. They know when you give false praise.
  • Work on healthy eating and a good sleep schedule. 
  • Be REALISTIC!
You and your child will get through this and come out on top. By the way, my daughter also LOVED the Dick and Jane series. I bought the anniversary edition for her when she was little.