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Homeschool differentiation

If you have read anything, you know I homeschool. I started when my oldest was very young and just kept adding kids. Now, I homeschool my four and tutor three more. They all have different needs based on their particular neurodivergences, strengths, and weaknesses. We use strengths to improve weaknesses here and make full use of every possible learning environment.

Starting with these three. Little miss with glasses is 7 (almost 8) and cruising right along with math concepts well into third grade. She loves math and science and her face lights up when we talk about space and time travel. We just started geometry and she flew through the introduction! She is also quite adept in reading and writing, though slightly behind third grade. She is stretching to meet the goal of writing 7 sentences each school day. Her penmanship is wonderful, but thinking of what to write, working out the sounds in the words, and adequately separating words is still a challenge. We work hard every day to improve those concepts. When she turns 8, she gets 8 sentences. Then we will start editing and making them more complex. She will start typing them too. Mr T in the middle is 6. He too thrives in math concepts. Also engaging in this geometry unit we just started and doing just wonderfully. He struggles more in reading and writing. But, in the last few weeks, he has really jumped up and solidified some concepts. He now isolates many more sounds when thinking of what to write, and remembers almost all the letter shapes that match the sounds. Sometimes, he has to go through the alphabet sheet pointing at the letters to listen to their sounds to match them up. But, his improvement has been amazing. His goal is not 6 sentences, but simple hearing the sounds and matching the shapes with them. As that skill grows, we will start with complete sentences and work our way up. Last little lady here, Kae, is 5 (almost 6). She too is crushing third grade math and loving geometry. Like Miss S, Kae is reading and writing well too. Not quite third grade but close. Her goal is 6 sentences. She is working on penmanship and spacing but her spelling is very solid.

Each of these littles has their strengths and weaknesses and each needs a different approach. The girls need a little less hand holding in most circumstances, but like to be near me for support. T needs the most support still but it is so fun to watch him grow out of that need.

Next up is this guy. Mack. My ADHD, SPD, maybe OCD, highly gifted 10-year-old. He is, as you can see, in need of a flexible environment for school. He learned to multiply at 4 while jumping on a trampoline but struggled to learn to read because that required sitting still. Words up our staircase helped that! Now, he's reading massive books at a high school level and having exuberant conversations with his siblings about them. He is writing at least 10 sentences after mind mapping, an exercise that helps them organize their thoughts before attempting to put them into sentences. Then he edits and adds to. Topic depending, we end up with full pages of typed stories. He is also working at high school math, coding, engineering, and physics. He loves those topics and gets so much excitement from them. But, too much sedentary work and his body vibrates, screaming to move. We keep it short, flexible, and often multiple tasks at once. He can learn to harness his ADHD and SPD and move mountains with his quick brain.

Much like Mack, Sawyer needs to move. He is recently 11, and has ADHD and dyslexia. When we started working together 15 months ago, he was struggling to read on a 3rd grade level. Writing wasn't any better. He soared at math but we had to fight to get the reading and writing up. With the help of audio books in conjunction with stories that engaged him, Sawyer is now reading at a 6th grade level! He still has dyslexia and struggles. However, he is doing the things. Now that we have reading just above grade level, we are working on writing and informational reading. Other reading is still there, but not as heavy a focus. He is typing 11 sentences then we are editing together and adding information. He too starts with mind mapping so when he types, he is able to focus more on spelling and structure than content. To improve penmanship and informational reading, he chooses a science book and takes notes, then I ask questions to ensure his understanding. That too is on a 6th grade level. Math is no issue for this dude either. He is flying through early high school level. So we support that strength but focus more heavily on the reading and writing sides.

Next is Will. He is 12 now. We struggled a lot early on with writing. He is where I learned to separate concepts for writing. With dysgraphia and autism, Will struggled with the ability to get his ideas on paper and the need for them to be perfect. He was anxious about getting things wrong. He fought against the mental and physical blocks associated with dysgraphia. We started small. Writing just a few words about a topic. Lots of help and support. Then moved to full sentences. Then more sentences, but simple ones. Then, adding descriptions to existing sentences. Now we are to a point that he still doesn't love writing, but he accomplishes it beautifully. His near eidetic memory means his spelling is perfect. If he's seen a word written, he can spell it. He taught himself to read around age 4, and now does so at an upper high school to college level. We have to add college texts to challenge him. He's doing well in math too, well above grade level. He explores physics and mythology and is always learning more languages. By assuring him that rightness wasn't the goal of school and learning, he gained the confidence to try new things. That was a hard won battle, though. He resisted for years. Hard too. He refused to engage in learning activities at all. A lot of study surrounding those who had to try many times before their thoughts worked helped him realize his own ability to try, fail, try again until he succeeded.

Finally, this cherub. Rory. Art is their language. If I could relate it to art, Rory could do it. They read at 3. Math came easily. Art flew. Writing is a bit more of a struggle, like with the rest, but that is going swimmingly now too. Rory was finished with high school at age 12. Now at 14, we are looking into college options but there are so many resources that can extend learning in preparation for college before a child is actually ready for that leap. While Rory is academically ready for college, their maturity and desire are not yet. We will continue to do at home learning until they decide they are ready for college however that looks for them. Like with the others, I required a certain amount of writing and extending that writing. We worked up at their level for math. We pursued their interests in science, which is currently a deep dive into anatomy and medicine.

Each of these children has their own strengths and weaknesses but can succeed in their own way. When we reach out where our students are right now, and gradually help them along toward more challenging concepts, we, and more importantly, they, succeed.

I am here to help you figure out where your kids are and what they need to succeed. Reach out with whatever help you need!

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