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9/24/2009 10:00:10 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
HSLDA's Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner Newsletter--September 2009

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HSLDA's Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner Newsletter
September 2009--How to Choose Curriculum
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By Faith Berens and Betty Statnick
HSLDA Special Needs Coordinators

Have you been agonizing over selecting your homeschool curriculum, or
is the curricula you have been using not working? We understand. In
fact, one of the most frequently asked questions we receive in the
Struggling Learner/Special Needs Department is, "What is the best
curriculum to use with my child?"

There is no simple answer to this question. In fact, there is no
one-size-fits-all curriculum that will be the magic bullet for a child
with special needs. Rather, what makes the biggest difference is a
loving and diligent parent-teacher coming alongside the child and
teaching him at his level of functioning. It is not just the
materials that make the difference, but the methods of instruction and
how the materials are adapted to best suit your child's specific
needs. It is important that you use methods and materials which
accommodate your child's learning style and specific learning needs.

There is an abundance of homeschool curricula, supplementary
materials, and programs available. Therefore, choosing the right
curriculum can be difficult. There are many things to take into
consideration. We encourage you to be flexible as you research the
many options, and allow this journey to be enjoyable for you and your
child! Some things to consider include:

> Your child's learning style.
> Your child's specific special needs and challenges.
> Your teaching style.
> Your budget.
> Ages, stages, and number of children being taught.
> Your home environment.
> Your opinion on the use of technology in your home school.
> Your family's core values, worldview, and beliefs.

Sometimes families begin homeschooling using a complete curriculum
package. However, if your child has a special need, such as a
diagnosed learning disability, special measures must be taken. One
should not assume that simply because his child is at home
experiencing parental love and one-on-one instruction that those two
things alone will boost the child's educational performance. (Of
course parental love and one-on-one instruction are two of the many
benefits of homeschooling children--those with special needs in
particular.) However, most children with special needs will also
require special teaching techniques and tailor-made and adapted
curriculum.

Parents who are homeschooling struggling learners /children with
special needs may find the structure or workload overwhelming and the
pace to be too fast in traditional curricula. Your aim is that your
child achieve his potential, and you, the parent-teacher, may find
that using only standard school textbooks will not allow for your
remediating your child's deficiencies. It may become necessary for
you to use one publisher's math text or program, a different
publisher's reading, and yet another publisher's program for
spelling.

Specialized techniques and incorporation of multi-sensory methods may
also be warranted. A wise teacher once imparted to me (Faith) at a
teacher training workshop, "If a child isn't learning through the way
I am teaching, then I must change the way I am teaching." This can be
difficult for us as parent-teachers because we tend to teach the way
we learn best and that may not be the way our child learns best!

Choosing curricula and designing your homeschool to meet your child's
special needs is challenging, but we know you can do it! Don't be
afraid to ask around. Remember to be a keen observer of your child,
and try different materials and approaches. We, the special needs
coordinators are available to talk with you over the phone or via
webmail at www.hslda.org/contactstaff . The special needs coordinators
can help parents with specific teaching strategies, selecting
materials, and provide helpful resources. Also, we encourage you to
contact a local support group or an online message board. And
remember, you can always try something different next year if you
don't like what you did this year.

Finally, and most importantly pray! God will give you the wisdom,
guidance, and resources when you ask Him.

Members Only Resources:

"Choosing Curricula and Learning Materials"
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6975

"Publishers of Curricula and Learning Materials Specific to Special
Needs"
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6976

HSLDA @Home E-vent:
Dr. Stephen Duvall, "PART program, Parents As Reading Tutors"
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6977

Related Articles:

"Choosing A Home Schooling Method: Which One Is Right For You?"
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6978

"How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum"
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6979

"Homeschooling Special-Needs Children"
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6980
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