Thursday, August 9, 2007

Homeschooling with special needs!

Is their certain things that make kids fall into the category of special needs? Most people would never think of Beca as a special needs child but she has had a rough road and definitely has needs that other kids don't. After a long start which lasted about 2 yrs. Beca is finally stable on her seizure meds and can do the things most kids her age and grade do. It hasn't always been that way. When she was in Kindegarten when she began having seizures and I didn't know anyone that had an epileptic child so I was all alone in a very unfamiliar world. Beca was having hundreds of seizures a day and they progressively got worse. I remember the bad ones very clearly...the time she dropped her brother when he was a month old, the time she dumped a hot bowl of soup on herself etc.. I think the hardest part was accepting she wasn't like the other kids and needed special things to make it throughout the day. Beca has no idea when she has a seizure so she would often feel very uncomfortable and dumb. For example when she was holding a cup of koolaid at school and the next thing she knows its down the front of her shirt and the kids are laughing at her. She then knows she had a seizure and is humiliated. We took her out of school as she began to fall more and more behind. This last year about half way through she started using and it has been wonderful!
If she is sick one day then she can skip that day without falling way behind. She was probably behind a whole grade level in math and was able to learn and move at a slower pace in math but move faster in Language Arts. She has loved to log on and do her work and see her accomplishments by getting a star or a check mark as she moves along. I think it has really helped her realize that although her life is different than most kids her age she can still make it in life it just takes a little extra work.

How we got to Time4learning.....

We had decided to home school our kids the year before and we still hadn't gotten ourselves situated in a routine. I would buy workbooks, text books, flashcards and software all relating to education. We even went to the library about two days a week but nothing seemed to be what I was looking for in an education for my kids. Our hunt for curriculum was a little different than what some kids need because of our kids' situation.
My daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 6 and in Kindergarden. She was in the process of learning to read when she would stop reading and blink her eyes and lick her lips. We had no clue what was wrong with her so we took her to the pediatrician and he thought it was odd behavior so he sent her to have an EEG. Little did I know the day we had the EEG her life and ours would change forever! The lady administering the EEG looked at me immediately and said she is having seizures and has had 30 in the last 10 minutes. I was shocked. I wanted to cry, hug her, search for help and just hope I was dreaming all at once. She was having hundreds of seizures a day. We were referred to a neurologist and things only got worse for our little girl. They decided to put her on medicine to take away the seizures but the medicine made her very sick. She was losing weight from throwing up and the doctor said to keep her on the medicine.
. She couldn't go to school because she was so tired from throwing up so much and being so sick. She began to fall behind in school and wasn't learning much of anything so we made the decision to bring her home to learn. We bought book after book through the first 2 yrs and she just could not memorize or retain anything like her multiplication facts. One of the side effects of her seizures is when she is learning or reading something and she has a seizure her mind kind of clears so we have to start over what we were doing at the time of the seizure because she has no memory of what we were doing. It makes it very difficult and definitely takes a lot of patience on both of our parts. We started to notice that when something was put to music and made into a song she would learn the song and was starting to memorize things easier! Well most curriculums don't come with music to all their books. It's mainly just books and workbooks which was clearly not what she was going to be able to do at this time so the search continued on and I told my husband we are going to have to just put the kids back in public school. I kept thinking I just can't do this! My husband told me we agreed to try homeschooling and that he really wanted to help me get through our daughter's illness. I was doing a search online and came across
I fell in love with it the first day. Where was this program when I was at all these home school fairs trying to put different pieces together for each child and spending hundreds of dollars only to feel like I still was missing something? I enrolled my daughter and she is doing great. It gave her EXACTLY what she needed! The sound and animation was enough to get her mind going. She could do just a little at a time if that was what she needed to get through the day. If she is sick one day then she can skip that day without falling way behind. She was probably behind a whole grade level in math and was able to learn and move at a slower pace in math but move faster in Language Arts. She has loved to log on and do her work and see her accomplishments by getting a star or a check mark as she moves along. I think it has really helped her realize that although her life is different than most kids her age she can still make it in life it just takes a little extra work.
While dealing with all that I had my 12 yr old daughter complaining on how she hated to be home for school and her work was boring. She hates reading and so she pretty much hated any curriculum we tried. We decided to let her try time4learning also. She has made a big change in the way she looks at her work and her attitude has greatly improved. She does not complain at all when I tell her to do her school work. She absolutely loves to be on the computer so this program has been a great thing for her. She knows that if she just does it then it will be done and then she can play on the playground part of time4learning. There are pages that you can print that go along with the work they are doing as resources or a little extra work and she loves to do them. This way she can keep up on school work but also still get practice writing and doing paper work still. I think it gives her a sense of independence that kids her age need. She is in control of how long it takes and she likes that. She knows everyday what's expected of her! We traded in our old computer and got one more up to date for the kids to do their work on and I hadn't had the time to get the printer connected and everything yet and she was just so concerned that she had papers to be printed for school that needed to be done so while we were at the library that night she went to the computer and logged on to T4L and printed her papers so she could do them all the next day.
You can't ask for a better curriculum than one that all your kids like. Our 4 yr. old loves the cute little animation on T4L. The activities she does each day change all the time so she continuously stays very interested. She climbs in the computer chair which is much bigger than her and puts on her headphones which fall off because she is so tiny and does her work. It is so easy to navigate that she tells me “ Mom it's ok if you go do laundry. I can do it all by myself.” When she finishes she knows their will be a little arrow pointing to exactly where she needs to go next. She is learning the sounds of her letters and is on the road to learning to read.

When they finish each day I go online and check their grades and if they didn't do well enough I can have them redo just the lessons they need a little extra work in and help explain anything they might not understand. That was one of the most important qualities I was looking for in a curriculum. I love how it teaches my kids independence and boosts their self esteem.

Our Preschool years

Will you send your little one to preschool this year? People seem to ask me that question all the time. It is the decision that all parents face at some point.
Doesn't playing with all the kids at the park, in the nursery on Sunday and Wednesday, going to the library and any other fun activity in the area count as plenty of socialization for a 2-4 yr old?? I just can't get over the looks I keep receiving from people when I tell them my child won't be going to preschool.
We have taught our kids so much by just being with them. We count the stairs when we go up them, we tell them what colors they are wearing, read lots of books, go to the park and just talk to them. I just really feel parents are missing that whole stage in a childs’ life and pushing their child out the door as soon as they can!
Preschool is such a fun age. She will just bring me book after book and let me read. She is a very quick learner but we still repeat a lot just to make sure she has a firm grasp on it all. I am so excited as we begin the journey of teaching her to read. I am a bit nervous because I haven’t ever had to do this age before but what a joy to teach your child things they will use for life. We have decided to do preschool at home this year along with our older children. Our other two girls are doing and love it so we have decided to let our preschooler do it too!
Time4learning allows her to move at her own pace in each individual subject and is teaching her to read, count and tons of other things. She loves the animation and it changes from day to day to keep her interested. One of my favorite parts is that she can do it independently and it tells her what part to do next whenever she finishes a certain section. You can also go to the website at all times and check their progress or go in and print of progress reports. Its definitely a keeper at our house!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Well the summer is over and the school year is upon us again. Time for everyone to be getting all the dates settled for when to start school and what curriculum to use. We have decided for this year we will be using and supplementing with A.C.E. My girls just LOVE time4learning. We have slacked off for a couple weeks to have a summer vacation but its time to get on the ball again. The great part is since the girls love to do their work on the computer they don't mind doing their work each day. That is such a huge help! We will be doing Time4learning for kindergarden, 5th grede and 7th grade. T4L is available for preschool all the way through middle school! Time4learning is great for allowing a child to advance in different subjects at different paces. It has been the best thing for our daughter who has epilepsy and has special needs. She is able to work at her speed in each subject. Our youngest daughter will using it to continue in Kindergarden and learning to read. We are very excited to get our year started and get going to