Curriculum question for special needs child, asked by Rose 

(Shared with her permission)   We have 2 adopted children -10yo boy is currently in a private school where the class sizes are very small. We are doing some testing and finding he is very bright but has SI issues and anxiety issues BIG TIME! It seems he has a sign on him that reads “easy target” as he attracts children who tend to bully him. The 6yo girl was pulled out of PS and I am now homeschooling. She tended to overload and shut down. What is the best curriculum for this child? Should we wait to start formal school? She has anger outbursts and also has some attachment issues. She was cocaine and marijuana positive at birth which may contribute to the behaviors and some cognitive and comprehension problems.I would like to HS at least for several years to see if it will help with the attachment and bonding issues.

Thanks
Rose

A Gentle Approach to Special Needs

My answer:  

Dear Rose
Thank you for visiting my website and I trust you will find some answers for your family as you browse these pages.

Though I have no experience with the emotional challenges that you are experiencing with your family, I have had, to a small degree, to look at how to educate a child who hasn’t fitted in with the normal development that is expected in society.

A relaxed relational approach will lay the foundation for any future formal studies though I would delay any formal studies until some relational and character issues have been developed. There is good evidence for delaying formal education till around the age of 10 though at no time are you delaying learning.

Reading books can be as snuggly or impersonal as you like (or need). As you sit and read a book together you are investing in your child’s life and though they may not snuggle up you are building relationship. Reading stories give you the opportunity to talk about issues, that is, other people’s issues and you can teach from there. This is a lot less confronting for some children. I highly recommend Five in a Row or even Before FIAR for good stories.

Spending time training a child to be able to sit and listen to a story, though maybe a long process, will be important for future education. The skills of listening and retelling (Narration) are the skills necessary for reading and writing.

Living life together will give you the opportunity to build life skills which will build confidence in the child but also cover many math concepts. My nearly 9year old is just starting his formal Math Curriculum but is grasping concepts quicker than I expected because he has built things, fixed things, talked about these concepts for many years.

Arts and crafts are important to a young child. Make a creative corner (or box) where your daughter has access to material all the time. I personally struggle with mess (a whole separate story!) so I found art materials that encouraged their creativity without the mess. We kept the messy ones for the times I was supervising. Daniel’s favourite was junk box and masking tape. The girls favourite was rubber stamps and water-paint disks.

Giving your child plenty of time for play is also important. Read Benefits of Play to confirm the importance of this aspect of a child’s life.

There are many things that you can do with your daughter in the next few years that will prepare her for formal studies in years to come. The important thing for her now is the relationship and moral training areas. Though it is tempting to look for answers in a curriculum, we need to remember that learning is most effective when it is connected to real life daily experiences. Discipleship (living and learning next to another person’s life) will bring many rewards.

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