From the HSLDA E-lert Service:


12/13/2012 2:24:50 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Struggling Learner--Top Ten Lessons from an Occupational Therapist Part I

HSLDA's Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner Newsletter
December 2012 -- Top Ten Homeschooling Lessons from an
Occupational Therapist Part I

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by Jean A. Wetherilt, OTR/L

Occupational therapy addresses areas that may be impeding a child's
full participation and developmental progress in school, play and
social situations with the goal of making the child as independent as
possible. In my adventure as a homeschool mom, I discovered a lifetime
of lessons. Here are ten that hopefully will encourage homeschooling
parents to stay the course as well as inspire new paths.

(Look for the other five in January's newsletter.)

1. Build the foundations for academic learning.

"Child development is sequential, one skill builds upon another.
Physical components such as postural control, equilibrium responses
and bilateral integration form the developmental foundation. As one
moves around, across, under, through and over surfaces and objects,
the body receives sensations that are then processed to build these
developmental components." ("Walks on The Wildside, Book One in a
Series on Theraparent: A Guide for Creatively Promoting Motor skills
in Children," Jean A Wetherilt, OTR/L)

Homeschooling students are not limited by a classroom or by someone
else's schedule, and therefore can be provided with more opportunities
to build a foundation. The only thing dictating the parent's choices
to spend more time on specific skill areas is the student's progress
and performance. It is possible that a parent can fit in time for
home programs that have been designed by the child's therapists and
therefore assist in establishing a foundation. Homeschooling parents
can be fully capable of being their child's teacher and "theraparent".

2. Use hands-on learning.

Although many formal schools recognize the importance of projects and
using manipulatives for subjects such as math, these time-consuming
activities are frequently the first to go when the schedule is tight.
Workbooks are easier, neater and faster. Homeschoolers now have access
to many well-written curriculums that are built on methods of learning
that go beyond the printed page, utilizing real world activities to
supplement academic learning. Homeschooling students can also take
advantage of opportunities to use their hands while serving the
community in places such as soup kitchens and community gardens.

3. Teach life skills that lead to independence.

Some schools spend time, money and effort to re-create places where
students can develop skills in cooking, laundry, wood shop and even
auto maintenance. In our homeschools, learning centers for these
subjects already exist! The only challenge here is for homeschooling
teachers to put these skills into the school schedule and calendar
without feeling guilty regarding the relative value of these

4. Allow room and flexibility for the kinesthetic learner.

Yes, it is okay to break up math lessons into five-minute increments
or to let your child stand at his desk! Go ahead and practice those
spelling words while jumping on a trampoline or learn prepositional
terms while doing an animal walk through an obstacle course.

5. For those who need a sensory diet (actually most of us!), be
intentional about adding individualized activities to the daily

Sensory Diet defined - An individualized activity plan that provides
the sensory input to assist a person's ability to attend, stay focused
and self-regulate his/her state of alertness throughout the day
(Patricia Wilbarger, OT).

If a person's nervous system is in a state of high arousal, then an
activity that is calming may be a good idea; and if in a low state of
arousal, then a stimulating activity may be appropriate. The effects
of sensory diet activities on the nervous system can be cumulative, so
that if you spend 20 minutes doing something active you may gain an
additional 60 minutes of productive time.

Next month, Jean will continue to discuss the remaining "Top 10"
lessons she's learned as a homeschooling mom.


The Big What Now Book of Learning Styles: A Fresh and Demystifying
Approach by Carol Barnier

Life Skills for Kids: Equipping Your Child for the Real World by
Christine M. Field

Luke's Life List (Individual Education Planner); and Luke's Academics
List by Joyce Herzog

Talkers, Watchers and Doers by Cheri Fuller
The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias

* Walks on The Wildside, Book One in a Series on Theraparent: A Guide
for Creatively Promoting Motor skills in Children by Jean A Wetherilt,

Jean Wetherilt, OTR/L
Jean is a pediatric occupational therapist specializing in the
treatment of developmental delays, learning disabilities, autism
spectrum disorders and sensory processing disorders. She is founder
and owner of PossAbilities, a therapy clinic in Merriam, KS. In
addition to her private practice, she is the special needs coordinator
for Midwest Parent Educators). Jean and her husband of 29 years have
two children (homeschool and college graduates).

Contact Jean at:
-> Is customer service an art or a science?

For us, good customer service is both an art and a science
-it should appeal to our members and be effective. Consider what
our members say about us:

The freedom HSLDA allows me to have as I homeschool is wonderful!
They handle the law and I get to dedicate the time to my daughter.
- National City, CA

HSLDA members since 1993, our membership is just as important to
us as our children's curriculum. Thank you HSLDA for all you do on
our behalf! - West Valley, NY

More reasons to join HSLDA...

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