Below is a quick list of strategies for parent of special needs children based on the most common issues brought up by parents during special needs consultations.
THSC does not endorse a specific group or organization, but has referenced a few resources below which have proven to have the greatest success rate in specific areas where students tend to struggle. Ultimately it is up to parents to determine what is best for their child and his/her specific learning situation, but these hints are meant to give some good launching points for further curriculum and supplementary investigation.
Helpful Hint #1 – Easily Distracted/Trouble Focusing
- Build in frequent breaks or alternate active learning between books, videos, or computer time.
- Use curriculum with less pictures, noise, or colors.
- Have your child sit on a large ball instead of a chair.
Helpful Hint #2 – Autism Curriculum
- Recent studies have confirmed what parents of children on the Autism spectrum have known for a long time, that these children learn best when their studies are built around things they love.One of the ways school becomes a more engaging experience for your child, if he/she falls on the Autism spectrum, is if you teach with unit studies.
- To find some of the best unit studies are available to home schoolers, visit Cathy Duffy’s website for a very comprehensive list that includes many free resource links.
Helpful Hint #3 – Handwriting & Pencil Gripping Issues
- By far the best curriculum for teaching handwriting to children who have difficulty in this area is Hand Writing without Tears or HWT, which was specifically developed by an occupational therapist for children who struggle with manuscript and cursive writing.
- Another great resource for ways to encouraging good pencil grip is this online article Fun Motor Activities to Encourage Good Pencil Grip.
Helpful Hint #4 – Math Struggle
Many children who struggle with math do so because of its abstract nature. By adding manipulatives to your child’s math experience you will find that your child will grasp the concepts much more readily. Here is a just a small sampling of math programs that include manipulatives: Math-U-See; Discovery Geometry; Mathtacular Math Manipulatives; and Right Start Math.
Another strategy which works well with children who struggle with math in their later (usually high school) years, is video instruction. Programs parents have said have been helpful for their struggling students are: CTC Math; Teaching Textbooks; Video Text; and Khan Academy.
Helpful Hint #5 – Reading Struggles
- If you think (or know) your child has Dyslexia, then the best resource online is the Homeschool with Dyslexia website.
- Try right-brain reading strategies like the ones Diane Craft uses in her materials, Right Brain Strategies.
- Use books on CD or the text-to-speech option on most reading devices.Even the older Kindles have this option and they highlight the words as your child listens which helps to teach your child to recognize words through memorization.
- Most importantly, don’t push a child to read before he/she is ready. Instead, make it a goal to instill the love of reading as your primary goal by doing family reading and getting books on CD for your child at the library. Children who are just slower in this area and do not have a specific learning issue related to reading tend to catch up to their appropriate reading level when the time is right, as long as they still have the desire to read.