Homeschooling: Special Needs
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Identifying Why Your Child Is Struggling

Prepared by the HSLDA Team of Special Needs Consultants

Recommended Teacher Resource Books

Homeschooling Children with Special Needs by Sharon Hensley

Teaching with the Brain In Mind by Eric Jensen

Brain Matters: Translating Research into Classroom Practice by Patricia Wolfe

Building the Reading Brain, Pre-K-3 by Patricia Wolfe and Pamela Nevills

Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites by Marcia Tate

Professionals and educators who follow brain research understand that there are four main processing areas or “learning gates” that need to be properly functioning in order for a child to have an easy time learning.

The four learning gates are:

The provided checklists identify some of the characteristics that students may exhibit when a learning gate is “blocked,” or not functioning properly and efficiently. Also included is a list of informal evaluations that parent-educators may choose to perform at home. Additionally, there are some resources for correction that can either be delivered by a professional or in the home setting by parent-teachers.

Learning is all about energy output. Read the characteristics and see if you can identify where your struggling learner may be experiencing an “energy leak.”

Compensation or Correction?

Before you begin evaluating your child, you should know that once the process is complete you might face a fundamental choice: compensation or correction. Many educational experts debate whether it is more beneficial to help a struggling learner compensate for the learning processes that are difficult, or if time and effort should be spent in the pursuit of a correction of the processing problem.

An example of compensation would be for a child to use a keyboard at a very young age to write papers when he or she struggles with handwriting. A correction would be to do a handwriting exercise that eliminates reversed letters, for instance, and helps the child write more neatly. Another common compensation is to reduce the spelling list required at a grade level for a child who is struggling with spelling. A correction would be to train the child's photographic memory so that the task of spelling is easier.

Many times this does not need to be a debate. One can easily pursue both compensation and correction simultaneously. Compensation makes the learning task easier while the correction reduces the stress in the child's learning system so that learning can flow. We call this “opening up the child’s learning gate.”

A Right Brain Learner Stuck in a Left Brain Curriculum

Click here to learn more about the differences in right brain and left brain learners and strategies to help your child (members only resource).


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